Editor’s note: This is a post in the series, Simple Marriage in Action.
We’ve been married for 36 years, and still feel like we are growing.
Here are the six things we have found most helpful.
- Be intentional. Never put things on autopilot. A colleague of mine from Minnesota said, “Being married is a lot like putting a canoe in the Mississippi River in St. Paul. Unless your paddle hard, you’re going to drift south. We’ve tried to be aware of the tendency to drift and address that.
- Have fun. It helps if at least one of you is light-hearted. That happens to be my wife. I’ve always said I’d rather have a bad time with her than a good time with anybody else. We have found it doesn’t take a lot of money to have fun. Cherish these times, and realize they aren’t just fun…they are essential.
- Get away. We go on at least one retreat a year (we go to WinShape in Mt. Berry, GA). But we take several other mini retreats throughout the year. These times of retreat help us put things in perspective, keep our “eye on the prize” and rise above the fray.
- Make your marriage a priority. Kids take their toll on a marriage, as does life in general, but hopefully your marriage will be there after other things are gone. We’ve had our share of rough patches, but we always tried to work on things as a team. I tell younger couples, I hope you never have to go through this, but if you do, keep your marriage strong because you are going to need each other.
- Faith has been an important part of our life together. Not sure how we could have survived some of the storms had it not been for our faith in God. All the virtues taught in scripture are important for a healthy marriage, but I think grace and forgiveness (and perhaps patience) are the most important. Gratitude goes a long way, too. Praying for your spouse is important, too, as long as you aren’t praying for them to change. We also realize there is an enemy out there that doesn’t want our marriage to survive, but that enemy is not each other.
- We realized we can’t control or change each other. We can only change and control ourselves. But most of the time, when you change, the other person changes in response.