HELP! All around me I see couples my age and younger breaking-up marriages. Some of these relationship are longer ones lasting a couple of decades and some are shorter not even making it to the first decade. My son’s peers have split families, I see their posts on Facebook, “going to Mom’s this weekend, I will miss Dad.”
Amy and I come from a “long line of love.” My parents will celebrate 52 years in June and hers will celebrate 50 this year. All of our grandparents remained married to their first spouse until death separated them. Adding up our total of years and that of our siblings (none of which has a divorce record) we have approximately 87 years of marriage between us (I have two brothers and she has one sister). Here are some observations of our grandparents’, parents’, our siblings’, and our own marriage that I think will help prevent break-ups. This is time-tested.
1. Put Your Spouse FIRST! I cringe when I hear people say their children come first. I love my son, but Amy is first. She comes before him, and from her perspective, I come first. The security of the strong love between your parents is better than any other gift.
2. Learn to EXPRESS Love! Hold hands, give hugs, buy small tokens for them, write them love notes. Tell them you LOVE them in no uncertain terms.
3. Live WITHIN Your Budget! Many marriages seem to break down over the stress of financial difficulties. Live by this simple motto: If I cannot afford it, I do not need it. By “afford it” I do not mean “buy on long-term high interest credit.”
4. Have COMMON Goals! Too many couples have different agendas and plans. Put your relationship on the same track. Look for projects and goals to pursue as a couple.
5. Learn to COMPROMISE! Be flexible. Know that your way is not the only way to do something. Learn that your taste in furniture (a ratty old recliner) is not the only standard. Break out of your comforts zone, not your marriage. Try new things together and learn to enjoy similar events, foods, and experiences.
6. Learn to APOLOGIZE! Some of the sweetest words in marriage or any relationship are the sincerely spoken, “I am sorry, please forgive me.”
7. COMMUNICATE! Learn to lovingly say what is on your heart. Ladies, do not think us menfolk understand the hidden language of women. Please tell us what you really want us to know. Men, learn to read between (under, over, and beside) the lines for the hints in what your wife says. For example: You are walking from the car to the restaurant and your wife says, “Wow, look at the moon.” She is not asking you to notice that there is a moon or that it is waxing or waning Gibbous, new or full. She is not asking for a comment on how a moon like that would make for good fishing or coon-hunting. She is not looking for a lecture on the moon’s impact on ocean tides. She is saying, “put your arm on my shoulder or at least hold my hand in the romantic light of this moon.” Ladies, if you do want us to hold your hand, please tells us just in case.
8. Please GOD and You Will Please Your Spouse! If both of you focus your life on being the type of person God wants you to be and to be the husband or wife that God desires – sacrificial and submissive toward each other, you will have a successful marriage.