Celebrating 38 years of marriage takes a lotta love, work, endurance, faith and humility. My husband, James, and I have had our share of hard days and good seasons while raising two children, moving nine times, experiencing two layoffs and forgiving seven-times-70 straws that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.
Advice? Secrets? Yep, but you might not like them.
1. A three-strand cord will hold you together: you, him and God in the middle. See your spouse the way God sees him or her. You know that Marvin Sapp song, “Never Would Have Made It”? It’s #truth.
2. Sit down and be quiet. Who is right is not the most important thing. Be quick to forgive; remember that you vowed “till death do us part.”
Scripture tells us this: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4–8
3. Opposites attract. During the dating and honeymoon phase, yep. Opposites inspire unending frustration after five years. God has such a sense of humor! Who knew he would send us an ever-present file to smooth us out. Thank you, Lord, for seeing our needs and shortcomings and sending an answer to help balance us.
4. Don’t call your “best friend” ugly names. You can’t take them back. Guard your mouth, and guard your heart, too. Hateful words tarnish your heart as well as your spouse’s.
5. Don’t go to sleep angry with each other. You leave room for Satan to maneuver in your marriage. Say, “I’m sorry; I’m upset. Let’s pray and then talk about it tomorrow,” even if you may not be feeling it right then. I’ve discovered that God is so much better at sending conviction that brings humility and change than I ever will be. The one time I shouted, “You can just leave,” he went upstairs, got in bed and fell asleep. I was wondering why it was taking him so long to pack!
6. Be intentional. Be supportive. Be willing to sacrifice. Prefer one another. Love is not selfish. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” – Romans 12:10
7. When you have a “heated discussion,” start this way: “When this happened, it made me feel __.” It steers clear of accusation, which usually will produce another accusation in response.
8. Remember that men want respect, and women need love. It’s difficult for him to take correction. She needs to feel secure, covered. Can she trust you? Can he count on you?
9. Choose your battles. Over time, you often can’t even find those rose-colored glasses you wore when you were looking at him or her thinking, “ohhhh wee!” The longer you’re married, the easier it is to pinpoint faults. Ask, “Is this a deal breaker, or is it something I just don’t like?”
10. Remember what made you happy with each other when you first met and dated. Take off on a spontaneous weekend trip. Throw pillows for no reason except that it’s fun. Learn new hobbies together. Surprise each other. Laugh. Laugh. Laugh.
We learned most of this the hard way. You don’t have to. June 15, 1985 — still in love and counting.