It just seems to me we should put that kind of effort into our current marriage.
So here is a short list of 20 things.
Obviously as you read the following list you will think of many more. For instance, Carol likes to sum up the list with just two words: Be Nice.
Those two words are often found in short supply in many marriages. One of my professors used to always reference the old country song line, “You never know what goes on behind closed doors.” How true that is. Marriage can look so good on the outside, but in reality the relationship is about to crash and burn.
The following list is in no particular order, however, #1 may be the most important. At any rate, it is huge and I practice it on a regular basis.
1. Talk favorably of your spouse all the time.
2. Once you say I do, you must do.
3. Your spouse comes before your children.
4. If you are keeping a secret, you are not being truthful.
5. Love the one you are with (Success in marriage goes down with each successive marriage. In your first marriage you have a 50% chance of success, your second marriage 33%, your third 25%).
6. Don’t wait until it’s too late to ask for help.
7. You must get away with your spouse.
8. You can destroy trust in your marriage with just one stupid decision.
9. Always work to be who you want to be married to (patient, kind, etc.)
10. Trust can be rebuilt, but it will take lots of intentionality, changes, and time.
11. Do not underestimate the importance of sex.
12. The grass is greener where it is watered more.
13. Your sex life reveals a lot about your marriage.
14. Marriage counseling is cheaper than divorce.
15. Read books on marriage together.
16. Do life together.
17. Losing at love doesn’t have to be.
18. It’s easier to walk out than it is to work on your marriage.
19. Courting will keep your marriage out of court.
20. Summary: Be Nice.
After 29 years of marriage there are many things to be thankful for. Carol became my best friend just over thirty years ago, so I married her. That’s one of the best pieces of advice I can give to any couple. Marry your best friend!
As I look back there have been long walks, cross country vacations, hikes, eating out, lots of conversation, skiing, kids, five kids (which have been an absolute blast), house building projects, and more.
Of course, anytime you make a list off the top of your head you will undoubtedly leave something special out.
However, let me add one that often gets overlooked.
Not mine, but Carol’s.
We have five kids, but I always wanted just four. So after Savannah, our fourth child, I was done. Carol was not. She really wanted a fifth, but she recalls me being adamant about not having another one.
So what did she do? She could have nagged, badgered, and pestered me, but she didn’t. She prayed.
Gabe has quite a heritage. I am not saying we did not pray for our kids prior to their coming into this world. But Gabe was different. In fact, it brings to mind the story of Samuel in the Old Testament.
Hannah was a Jewish woman who desperately wanted to have a child but was unable. She was barren for years, but during that time she continued to pray and ask God for a child. She prevailed in prayer, God heard, and she had a boy named Samuel. (It’s a great story in 1 Samuel chapter 1).
I’m thankful that I have a wife who prevailed in prayer. I often wonder how many times Hannah thanked God for her boy Samuel. I even wonder how often Hannah’s husband thanked God for a praying wife.
Yes, there have been many incredible memories and great times over the years. Yet Gabe is a constant reminder that I have a praying wife.
That’s a lot to be thankful for. 29 years of marriage and counting. In fact, we have already planned our 30th wedding anniversary. Can’t wait!!
I can still recall playing outside with one of my best friend in third grade. His brother was also playing with us, and for a reason I can no longer remember he picked up a rock and hit me upside the head. I do recall he that he got in a lot of trouble.
Rocks hurt. They hurt worse when coming from a friend.
Reminds me of Joseph. He seemed to love his brothers, but their feelings for him were just the opposite. In fact, they hated him. So much so that one day as the opportunity presented itself the brothers sold Joseph into slavery.
Joseph’s story includes three things that often occur in our own lives, and all three seem to intensify the pain. You can read the whole story in Genesis 37 and 39-50.
1. Indifference. Later in the narrative the brothers are discussing how they heard his cries, but they ignored them and continued to eat their lunch. Let’s be honest most are thinking only of themselves. There were many Saturdays when I was the only one to show for work. They weren’t too worried as to how their absence affected me. People quit their jobs without any notice at all, being totally oblivious to any hurt they may cause. Friends hurt friends, spouses hurt spouses, and employees hurt employers and never stop to consider the hurt they cause. Indifference hurts.
2. Injustice. Joseph was later thrown into prison by his master after he was falsely accused of attempted rape. There he sits in the cell thinking, “What good does it do to be good?” I can imagine a wife feels the same way after her husband leaves her for another woman. How many times does life appear to go well for the guilty husband. It just doesn’t seem fair, or just. And injustice intensifies the hurt.
3. Ingratitude. After some time in prison, Joseph gained hope. He gave the interpretation to Pharaoh’s former cupbearer’s dream. Three days later the cupbearer was released from prison and forgot all about Joseph. So after Joseph requested that the cupbearer remember him, he forgets him. It’s as if he is not thankful at all for the interpretation of his dream. That had to hurt. Ingratitude.
If you are Joseph how do you maintain hope? If your dream has been dashed by family and friends how do you keep hope alive? How do you keep smiling? Is it possible to persevere with a positive attitude?
It is, and in my next post I will give you three keys to surviving the cruel encounters of life, because life can be cruel.