Well I am proud to announce that today is my 38th anniversary of being married to the same woman; the girl I met in third grade. Her name is Paula.
As I get older I realize that those of us who have been married to the same person for a very long time are becoming an endangered species. It seems that divorce has become way too common of an option. And I can’t speak for Paula, but in the 38 years that we’ve been married and with all the difficulties we’ve had and all the pain I’ve caused her, I’ve never thought that divorce was ever a solution. You know why? Because we’ve dealt with hundreds and hundreds of people who have opted for it, and they fail to realize that when you get divorced you take the same dysfunction with you and relive it in the next marriage.
So what does it take to get married, be married, and stay married, happily married to the same woman or man over 38 years? Here is my take.
- It takes lots of generosity to believe in the heart of your mate when their actions can’t be explained.
- It takes patience to believe that a person can change, and that nagging can’t achieve it.
- Faith: faith in God and faith in the person that you’ve committed to love for the rest of your life.
- A great sense of humor. You have to learn how to laugh at each other and laugh at the situation because sometimes that’s all you can do.
- The power to prevail. Everyone faces quitting moments in their marriage. It’s those who push through it that last.
- Children help keep you together over time, because you have a common interest and passion even when you don’t have a common emotional attraction.
- Really great sex over time. Yeah, I had to mention that because every great marriage that sustains itself over time has some level of consistency in their sex life. Maybe it’s not every day or every week, but it’s consistent, pleasurable, and both parties are committed to being great lovers to each other.
- An understanding of just how destructive divorce is.
- An understanding that when you make a promise to another person, there has to be a point at which you draw a line in the sand and take your stand. So often today we run from our commitments and promises when they get hard. There has to be at least somewhere in your life where you stay.
- Prayer: prayer for each other and prayer for those you love.
- An understanding that comes from intelligent talking; not talking at each other, screaming, yelling at each other, but always talking to understand and then talking to be understood.
These are just a few of the things, it seems to me, it takes to stay married to the same person over a long period of time. Paula and I have made it 38 years as of today, and we’re committed the rest of our lives not just to make our marriage fun, but to help as many other great people as we can, grow great marriages. That’s our real passion. Remember, relationships aren’t built like houses. They’re grown like gardens. Guys, the word “husband” is an agricultural term. Are you helping your wife grow to her full, God-given potential? Is she blossoming under the umbrella of your covenant relationship? If she’s not, man-up.