I have to tell you I'm very proud of this accomplishment. I can not imagine my life without my wonderful wife Brenda. After this many years together, it's hard to imagine life apart. We truly have become one in so many ways and God willing I look forward to many more years together. So what is it that makes a marriage work? How can people stay together and be happy and content for so many years? Tonight I thought I'd take a look at what I believe has been vital to our success in our relationship. This list is of course, my list, it's a list of values that have governed my life through the years of our marriage and this comes from my perspective in our relationship.
I'm sure if I asked my wife for her input on this list... well, it would probably be more lengthy for one and I'd probably find that her list might be different than mine. So if you are interested in what I believe is vital to the success of the marriage from my point of view as a husband... well here it is.
I believe this word sets the stage for your marriage. You have to have respect for each other. This doesn't mean we always agree, but we do value each other and each others input. I guess the thing that irritates me more than anything is a husband that for whatever reason feels he owns the wife just because they are married. They're bossy and act like the wife is to serve the husband. Years ago when I was in the Army and was stationed overseas in Europe, Brenda and made friends with a couple and it was obvious, the husbands role was to dominate the wife. Every time we were together she waited on him hand and foot and she did only what he wanted to do and went only where he wanted to go. She had little say in anything they ever did and she really struggled with trying to live this way. They, like us had only been married maybe a year or so at that time and even this early in their marriage this lack of respect on his part for her was straining the marriage.
I've always believed that God had blessed me with a wonderful person to spend my life with and the last thing I'm going to do is treat her like trash or something of less importance than me! We add value to each other. I would like to say here that I had a great role model for me to imitate. My Dad was always very respectful to my Mom and I was brought up seeing this respect for my Mom from my Dad (this June they will have been married 49 years). So I believe this word respect is critical to longevity in your marriage. People just don't stay together if one is always mistreating the other, it's unhealthy and it's a shame when it happens. Not only do I respect my wife, I also expect my children to do the same. I think it's important to keep this perspective with the children. She may be their Mom, but first and foremost she is my wife, and I fell in love with her and married her long before the kids came along. I remember when this point became clear to both of our boys. As with all children they will push all they can and sometimes they will sass back or even get very disrespectful with their Mom. This would get all under my skin and at first I was frustrated with Brenda for allowing this to happen, but I soon realized that "Hey, this is my wife they are being disrespectful to." When I put it in this perspective, well it didn't take long for me to take action.
I can remember telling my son these words... "I don't know why you feel that you can treat your Mom that way or talk to your Mom that way. If you don't have enough respect for her and you think you can talk to her that way, then I'm extremely disappointed in you and ashamed of you for that. But listen to me. That person in there that you are being disrespectful to is my wife! I fell in love with her and I married her because I love her so much. We've been together long before you ever came along. No one talks to my wife that way. NO ONE. So if you think it's OK to talk to your Mom that way then shame on you, but don't you ever talk to my wife like that again. Do you understand!" Both boys from that day on had a different kind of respect for their Mom, they began to see her as my precious wife and they knew that they better not mess with Dad in this area. Suddenly their disrespect for their Mother had severe consequences because the last thing I was going to allow was some kid treating my wife like dirt (especially my own children). No way!
If you as the Husband do not show your wife respect and expect others too as well, then I believe your marriage will struggle. This one word... RESPECT is huge!
Again years ago when I was in the service I had a first Sargent who had been married for 20 years. We'll having only been married for three years at the time, 20 years seemed like an eternity to me. So I asked him what the secret was to being able to stay married for so many years? He said these words to me and even though he was being funny, there was a lot of truth in them. He said, "My wife and I have a wonderful relationship, She does what she wants, and I do what she wants." Of course I chuckled at the way he said this, I thought he was going to say she does what she wants and he does what he wants, thinking that they just kind of did their own thing and got along fine. Of course that doesn't work for long because you'll end up growing apart rather than together.
Sacrifice is critical to the success of your marriage. It's not about what I want, it's not about me anymore, it's about us. There is no room for selfishness in the marriage. When two people decide to get married in actuality they are giving their lives to each other. We said words like; Love and Cherish, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, on our wedding day, and then we get upset when she wants us to go somewhere with her that we really don't want to go to (shopping for example). Or she makes plans for an evening out but you were hoping to watch the big game on TV tonight when you got home from work. Sometimes I feel that my whole life has been a sacrifice in one way or the other, but I believe the reason most men struggle with this is because their ego's get in the way. If you find yourself saying things like that's not what I want to do, or I wanted to do this instead, or I hate doing that or you should have asked me first, well then you may be seeing the trend here (me, I, etc). Don't misunderstand me here. This is not easy and you may feel this isn't right... that's fine. I just seem to take tremendous joy in making those sacrifices for her. With practice it becomes easier and eventually those things don't bother you much anymore. Start making those sacrifices for your wife and you'll see it works out both ways and hopefully you'll both be sacrificing for each other because you both want to please the other person. So if you want to help your marriage, be sure to make those sacrifices for the one you love.
We each have done things that has hurt the other. We've done hurtful things, said hurtful things, and fought over things. Let me tell you now what you will argue over... Money, the children, work, and lack of making sacrifices (refer to the above note on sacrifices) I'm sure there are other things to argue over and other things that we do to hurt each other of course, but these are some of our favorites! The key here... FORGIVENESS! Just as you're going to say and do things that hurt her, she going to do the same to you. You have to learn to forgive! Yea but what she did was wrong, you don't know how bad she has hurt me! No I don't, but I do know that if you love her like you should love her, you will forgive her. If you don't forgive, you'll resent and resentment turns to hate, not love. You have to forgive and I don't care what it is or what she has done. Forgiveness is the only way to move forward and begin again. Forgiveness starts the healing process. It's not easy, but you must do it, or your marriage will not survive.
Why did Jesus forgive those that crucified Him? Because they didn't know what they were doing and He also loved them so much that He was willing to die for them. Can you forgive your wife when she's hurt you? Find it within yourself to forgive and try and get to the root problem of why she's hurt you. I've often found out I had something to do with it.
The thing to remember with trust is this... TRUST is earned! You mess this up, and you start from the beginning. You have to be able to trust your spouse and she has to be able to trust you. There is no room for jealousy. Do not give her reason to be jealous. We should be above reproach and always avoid the appearance of unfaithfulness. Early in the marriage, it's easy to get jealous with each other, we haven't lived together long and we think or fell insecure in our marriage and we basically are not mature enough to handle our feelings and we haven't yet learned that we can trust each other. But eventually we learn to trust each other, we begin to see that we can trust each other with our money, with our secrets and our hurts, with our intimacy, and also with our faithfulness to each other. We begin to feel safe with each other and this is because we trust each other on all levels. Trust is a vital part of any relationship. Violate trust and you compromise the relationship. A huge part of trust is HONESTY. We have to be honest with each other. If we lie to our spouses about anything she will learn that you can't be trusted and if we lie about this thing then she knows we'll lie about other things. Trust eliminates worry or fear in our spouses. Our wives feel safe and secure when we can be trusted. So men... don't blow this trust thing. If you do... the worlds not over (it may seem like it, but it's not) but you must understand that to rebuild trust takes time and effort. By being trustworthy, over time, this helps soften the pain and eventually trust can be restored in the relationship. Trust is key to the success of your marriage.
LOVE and FRIENDSHIP
My wife has been my best friend. She is someone that I enjoy being around and with. I guess that's why I don't mind going shopping etc with her, I do hate holding her purse in the department stores while she is trying on clothes in the dressing room, but other than that I don't mind going because I enjoy our time together. It should'nt matter much what you are doing if you truly enjoy being together. We laugh together all the time, we have fun being together, we enjoy being at home together or watching a movie together. I guess this is because I love her so much. There are two kinds of love in my book.
1..There's the kind of love when we fall for someone, we become attracted to each other and fall head over heals in love for each other, we want to be together and do things together, we enjoy each other and can't hardly stay away from each other. Always on the phone and never apart if we can help it.
2. And then there's a committed love for each other, this love is developed over time. It means that no matter what happens, I'm committed to the relationship and making this work because I love her. We all know there are times when we're not happy with each other. Like I said before, we can say things that hurt each other or do things that hurt our spouses and if we're not committed to each other and committed to love and cherish each other then we would eventually fall apart. We wouldn't reconcile and fix the broken relationship. Restoration happens only when we love each other. Ask yourself this question... Do I still love my wife? You think... of course I do! Then show her you do. We men are the worst at taking advantage of the marriage. We court, and date and do anything we can before we're married to show our love and we love being together and we enjoy each others company. So much so that we can't imagine life apart, so we get married. But then over time we begin to forget what it means to love someone, we forget it's about respect for each other and each others feelings, we forget it about sacrifice and doing things for our wives because it makes her happy and our reward is in her joy, we forget that love means we forgive each other when we've hurt one another. We don't hold grudges because we know this will only hurt the relationship, we throw our pride out the window for the sake of our marriage. And finally we forget that love is about trust and that trust comes from being honest and true to each other. I guess this brings me to my last but not least word.
Our marriage would not be where it is today without commitment to it. It takes work and it takes effort, it takes the ability to look past our selfish desires and put our spouses above our own. It means we value the relationship and our marriage more than we do our individual needs or wants. We are partners in this journey in this part of our lives. We're doing this together and we finally realize we're incomplete without the other person in our life. If you are committed to it, you'll find a way to make it work.
These are some of my experiences and a short list of some things that I feel have been instrumental in our success with our marriage. But honestly, we could have done all of these things that I mentioned above and it may still not work out between us. I know that. I not naive enough to think that my marriage works only because of this list that I try to live by. YES, they are helpful and I believe if you can live by these values, you'll have more success than not, of course! But it's by God's grace, mercy and love that we've been so successful in our marriage. I'll be honest with you, in my own weaknesses I fail terribly as a father and a husband. I know that my marriage could end someday and someone could read this list of things I've written and call me a hypocrite. But God helps both my wife and I to overlook our weaknesses. He helps us to forgive each other when we mess up. He helps remind both of us that it's because of His blessings that we are together and we have each other in our journey in life to share life's joys and hurts or sadness's with. He made the ultimate sacrifice for us and He's committed to me even when I mess up over and over again. This is a perfect example of how I should be with my wife. If we'll just let the light of Jesus shine through us to our spouses then we'll be loving our wives as God intended for us to love our wives. I can't see a marriage failing if we love our wives with the love of Christ in us.
May you all have many happy and joyous years together in your own marriage. My hope is that God will give us another 28 years together. Thank you God for blessing me with my wonderful wife Brenda. Help me to always remember how blessed I am to have such a blessed marriage, wife, and family. Thank you Lord.