Jim and I are in a new phase in life – and if you don’t know that, then this must be your first read here because I’m still whining about my near empty nest.
We are learning to engage with each other once again (28 years and four kids later) without being interrupted during a regular conversation.
The struggle is real to talk in coherent, full sentences.
No, seriously. Tweet it.
The truth about keeping marriage alive
Anyhoo, I discovered a great quote on marriage today by Mignon McLaughlin:
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
If you don’t believe that, then you’ve not been married for a hot 30 seconds.
I’m sorry. Am I bothering you with my disquisition today? Listen. Marriage is the best job you will ever work your hardest at. Marriage is:
- fun – yet exhausting
- conventional – yet atypical
- comforting – yet frightening
- joyful – yet miserable
- palatable – yet bitter
- sublime – yet ridiculous
You get the picture.
What first attracts you to your mate can also turn into that thing that makes you want to beat him over the head with a frying pan. (Or her.)
Do I have a good marriage? Yes.
Have I always had a good marriage? Not always.
Will I have a good marriage in five years? I firmly plan on it, but the Lord knows we both have a sin nature and we must remain committed to this thing or it just won’t fly.
Yes. I just said, “It just won’t fly” as if after 28 years of marriage something bad could happen.
You bet it could.
Every marriage is vulnerable
You young whippersnappers out there think we older ones have it all figured out.
To quote a favorite (but dying) expression: “NOT”!!!
Here’s the thing. Never assume your marriage is safe. For when you assume, you will certainly fall.
Never assume that anyone’s marriage is safe. Don’t worship someone else’s marriage, ever. Because chances are, they got where they are by blood, sweat, and tears. Heck, they may even be hanging on by a thread.
I want you to know that I love my husband.
I want you to know that he loves me. We trust each other, we laugh together, we pick on each other, and we work together.
But all this didn’t happen overnight, and believe me, we are still working on stuff and will be until the day we die.
We. do. not. have. it. all. together.
No one does.
Now before you go getting all depressed, throw your hands up in the air and say, “What’s the use?” Let me insert that with God, ALL things are possible!
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
We just have to present willing hearts.
Work with whatcha got
Each marriage looks different.
You may be married to your polar opposite, or it might feel like you married your clone (by the way, I feel sorry for you if you did that).
You both may be outgoing, or one of you might be an introvert.
Maybe you both like to talk. Maybe neither of you like to talk.
Your husband may travel a lot (like mine), or, he may work out of your home (like mine when he doesn’t travel).
He may have a 9-5 job, or he may be Mr. Mom.
You may work outside the home, or possibly you make a living blogging (I wish I did – if you’re successful, give me a holler).
Anyway, I’ve listed five key elements that Jim and I implement in our marriage that I think could help you, too, no matter your situation.
And now, on to the top five!
1. We spend time together.
In recent years, this has come in the form of travel, now that we only have one young adult living at home (with her own busy schedule). I accompany Jim on some of his work trips.
It builds up our time together since he’s out of town a lot.
As I type this, I’m sitting at the breakfast table in our RV (the rolling turd) while Jim drives us home from a little beach getaway.
He knows I get nervous up front in the passenger’s seat behind a giant plate glass window covered with bugs while he barrels down the highway at 70 miles per hour.
We have come to a compromise – I blog a little, he drives a lot, and I move up to the passenger seat for about 1/4 of the time.
2. We laugh together.
We perform this religiously. I mean like it’s our job.
At each other, with each other, and at ourselves.
His sense of humor is what originally drew me to him, and it has remained a strong characteristic throughout our marriage.
Yesterday, while he performed office tasks in the camper, I laid in my beach chair with my book and got fried, as is my tradition on the last day of any beach trip. (So as to soak up any extra rays I neglected the other days and build up the “healthy” tan).
I got so hot that I decided to take a dip, but the ocean was choppy and I detest being batted around like a rag doll and looking like an old grandma who can’t keep her balance (which I am).
As I picked my way towards the waves, water swirling around my calves, I thought to myself, “I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’m going for it” and dropped down to a sitting position right there in the shallow part, water lapping around my middle and soaking me in the coolness.
I sat there looking like a dork while children and parents played farther out amidst the waves and beach bums lounged in their chairs on the shore behind me.
I was the only one.
In the middle.
Of the sea shore.
A voice from behind caused me to jump and yell, Jim startling me from my reverie. “Do you know you are the only one out here?” He motioned to the area around me, “At first when I spotted you I felt sorry for you, but then I thought, ‘its Ruthie, she likes being alone'”.
We shared a belly laugh.
Later that evening, after a scrumptious Mexican dinner, our waiter tossed a look at Jim and then me, “Will this be on one check?”
For crying out loud, we’ve been going on dates for 28 (plus) years, do we not look like we belong together?
I giggled after the waiter left for the one check. Jim faked a glare at me, “I mean you take it for granted all the time like I’m just gonna buy your dinner. What the heck?”
The man is funny. FUN. nee.
3. We don’t say yes to everything
Be it a wedding invitation, shower, graduation, birthday party, night out with friends, or even (gasp) a church function, we measure it very carefully against our commitment to time with each other and family. With Jim traveling so much, we have to be picky in this regard.
I would venture to say, each family needs to practice conscientiousness in this area.
You can get so bogged down by commitments to everyone else that you lose yourselves in the process.
That is not healthy for a marriage, my friend. It just isn’t.
4. We support each other.
Jim has held several job positions down through the years, each one for the better, but I did not understand the concept for a long time. I‘m a person that resists change and wants to live in the same house until I die. I married a person who changes with the times; a “visionary”, and it took me years to grasp the concept.
This is partly because of how I was raised, and I’m thankful for such an upbringing.
But you have to come to grips with the fact that your marriage may not look like your parent’s.
In all reality, it probably won’t.
In all reality, your marriage probably won't look a thing like your parent's, and that's ok. Click To Tweet
With every job, my husband took a step closer to success and job fulfillment. He is a hard worker (with workaholic tendencies – he’ll tell you that himself), good provider, and highly respected by peers and business affiliates.
I learned to trust him and roll with the punches, and I support this man.
But guess what – he also supports me.
When I taught music in our kid’s Christian school and had piano students pouring in and out of our home, he supported me.
When I decided to pull all four kids out of school in order to homeschool, he supported me.
When I put them back in three years later and went to work, he supported me.
When I quit my job and brought my youngest two back home to homeschool them through high school, he supported me.
And now, as I delve deeper and wider into the blogging world, guess what.
He said, “Are you nuts?”
Just kidding. He supports me. Again.
5. We practice kindness.
Notice I said, “Practice”.
I am not naturally a kind person. I am a (sanctified) sarcastic, cynical pessimist.
But I am married to a kind person who loves big and forgives bigger. And his kindness is infectious.
He has taught me to be kind.
Is he perfect?
He would tell you himself that answer.
Forgiveness and a healthy dose of longsuffering play key roles in marriage.
I already listed my faults (would that there were only those few, but I digress).
Suffice it to say, we both know we each possess negative qualities, but we have learned to downplay those and capitalize on the positives.
It has served us well.
While on this trip, every time we got out of the car, Jim asked me to keep the keys in my purse while we shopped, ate, or went sightseeing. But he didn’t just hand them over. He held them out and asked, “Hey, would you keep these in your purse for me?”
Like it was the first time every time. He asked, kindly.
It’s the little things, people.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;” Romans 12:10 NAS
The Secret Sauce
I need to share that the MAIN key to staying committed to your spouse for life is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I don’t list this in the five strategies, because this one thing encapsulates our marriage.
Our lives revolve around serving Him.
We believe Jesus died, was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4). We believe the Bible says if you ask in faith believing, you will receive eternal life. And not only eternal life, but abundant life in Christ. This life enables us to live out a marriage committed to each other.
If you have any questions concerning this life, please contact me here and I will be happy to show you the way.
“Jesus said unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
So how do these five tips measure up to your top five? I’d love to know what you think – leave me a comment below!
SEE BELOW: THE SECRET SEQUEL TO THIS POST!!!
Five Secret Strategies to keep your Marriage Thriving! Click To Tweet
5 Secret Strategies to keep your marriage thriving
Don’t miss out on this offer – “5 Secret Strategies to keep your marriage thriving” (the sequel to Five Key Strategies to keep your marriage Alive) -and when you sign up, you will ALSO receive my “Top Ten Tips to Rearing a Confident Young Man!”
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God is ready and willing to help you grow your marriage. Through His Word and valuable resources such as this, you can do it!
Follow up to this post is part two: My parent’s top ten secrets to staying married 50 plus years!