Ever thought about the ingredients of a happy, long lasting marriage?
Today is our thirtieth wedding anniversary.
You can’t say that every day, even every year. It’s a milestone!
To have married the person who has become my best friend, the one whom I trust above all others on this earth, the man who knows more about me than perhaps Jesus….yep. That’s a milestone!
We’ve achieved what appears to impress today’s world, by the number of social media ‘likes’ and ‘comments’…even got flowers from friends!
In today’s world of ‘instant everything’, I don’t wonder that we are esteemed for reaching thirty years… Reaching such significant milestones in relationships is not so common.
JUST ADD WATER!
But a ‘just add water’ solution to what ails a lot of marriages is not possible. There’s no such thing as ‘Marriage Made Easy’!
Here’s the distilled version of some of my ‘instant’ thoughts from our marriage of thirty years, which may stimulate your thinking on this great institution; and perhaps you’d like to comment with some of your own suggestions?
‘Instant’ thoughts that have taken over thirty years to grow!
1. Marriage is not easy!
“Life wasn’t meant to be easy”! – Malcolm Fraser
One if our famous Australian Prime Ministers once quipped this famous line. I think that may be said about marriage… It can be summed up really in a four letter word – Work. And also commitment. Oh and faithfulness. And not to forget some sacrifice, and then… our preferring of one other…so a lack of selfishness…not to forget the compromise and the compromise and sometimes perceived injustice of ‘taking a back seat’…and then, did I say the compromise?
Sorry. I got carried away.
Just read what LOVE is in I Corinthians:
“And though I have the gift of ‘prophecy’ and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing”. (NKJV)
– Pretty much all I need to say. Who cares? If you just love…
2. Marriage is hungry!
“Feed the man meat”! – Many an Aussie male
And yes, I jest! It’s not about the food a wife puts in her man’s stomach, or even the way she looks when he arrives home from work each day (honey, I’m home!”) which I’ve read about from those old and oft quoted “1950’s magazines”….You know, the polka dotted frilly apron, the quick fry up of an onion to make his senses reel as you call on your inventiveness in the kitchen…the freshly applied makeup (just in case he’s left a lovely secretary at the office!) Ah me!
“…love cares more for others than for self.” I Cor 13:4 (MSG)
LOVE is an expression of my heart for my spouse. Not a demonstration. Not a worked up emotional response. But a deep caring…
It’s about feeding the emotional part of both of you. Involving yourselves together in a commitment to each other, not just during the good times, but the not so good times. (did someone say “vows”?) Learning the language of conflict (there’s a language??) and conciliation, rather than notching up scores and indulging in the ‘one-up-manship’ that can overload and make even the most heavenly marriages sink….
“..doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first”, doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others” I Cor 13:5
3. Marriage loves memories!
“Memories need to be shared” Lois Lowry
Yes it’s good to do fun things, challenging things, have world-changing adventures together…even if it’s in your own back yard. But have them, and do it…together. “Memories are ambrosia” ( a quote from ‘Dancing With My Daddy”- (learn more) that is, sweet to the taste both now and after…they are what sets apart a great marriage in my eyes – the thoughts and the recollections that both partners share and wistfully talk about for many years to come….They build us a bank of love stories with us as the main stars!
I have seen our, at first, feisty and lacklustre relationship (due to two very strong personalities vying for attention…) become smooth and relatively eruption free when we pay attention to those ‘breathing spaces’ that all couples need…the creation of memories.
The odd weekend away. Without the kids. The day trip to ‘who knows where’..just because.. The short trip to the mountains to refresh our care for one another and ourselves, all important and in fact necessary to relieve the daily humdrum and create memories. They are ‘in the bank’ for the days when we need them.
“…”So no matter what I say what I believe and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” I Cor 13:3 (MSG)
4. Marriage takes care of us.
“Take care of you!”– A line from ‘Pretty Woman’
“Self care” – such a buzz word today. But your ‘other self’, your spouse, also loves you to care. But it does require real love. After all, you gave yourselves to one another when you wed…so it is now your responsibility to ‘take care of you’ for your spouse…right? Taking care of YOU is how to reinvent a marriage – because we are all growing, changing, becoming…and there’s nothing less mysterious than something that is always the same…
Care of me for you…Personally, that often means that I allocate time to baking, creating and just plain being me… Because that simply ‘recharges the batteries’ – but perhaps for you it means paying more time to the external you, or the internal you…or whatever part of you needs some ‘me time’… important, none the less!
5. Marriage is about your future.
“You gotta know when it’s time to turn the page…‘ – Torie Amos
We plan for the wedding…But the future can shape our marriage. (which should last much longer!) And if it’s to be life long, let’s remember that we also can have a hand in shaping our future…together.
But to let the future just blindly ‘happen’ is a mistake. Because it can carry with it all the past regrets, failures and resentments that we as humans tend to harbour… unless we “turn the page’. And that involves exercising our ‘forgivery’ and taking our ‘forgettory’ out for a major spin!
I think that’s called GRACE….
“…Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, but keeps going to the end.” I Cor 13:6 (MSG)
And in a nutshell? The answer has to be PURSUE LOVE…
‘“Love never gives up” I Cor 13:4 (MSG)
Till next time.
Photos courtesy Lovers and Light Photography www.loversandlight.com.au
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