"So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate."
Matthew 19:6 NIV
We didn't get it right all of the time. In fact, if you read my books, you'll understand there were times we almost threw our marriage away. I'm so glad we remained true to the vows we spoke through our happy tears forty-nine years ago. When the hurting tears came, our vows to God and to each other were the glue keeping our frayed marriage together.
As we celebrate forty-nine years, I jotted down fifty ways (in no particular order) we got it right. In hopes one will touch your heart and bless your marriage, I share them with you.
1. Read your wedding vows and repeat to each other often.
2. Go to bed at the same time whenever possible. The late-night pillow talk was precious and sometimes the only time we were alone during a busy day.
3. Make intimacy a priority.
4. Our marriage took priority over our children. We cherished our daughters and son and they knew they were loved. They also knew mom and dad loved each other, which brought joy and balance to our family.
5. Be polite. My husband opened the car door for me when we dated and on our wedding day. He still does today. Those little courtesies mean a lot and speak volumes to our children.
6. Date frequently. Your children will survive and thrive knowing mommy and daddy are going out just the two of them. Your child's greatest fear is that their parents will divorce. Seeing the two of you leave to enjoy each other may bring tears in the short run, but smiles for a lifetime.
7. Vacation as a family. When you vacation together, you bond as a family. When another family is included in your plans, the kids bond with the other kids and not with each other or to their parents. An occasional vacation with friends is fun, but not every year.
8. Overnight as a couple. Dan set as a priority that two weekends a year we get away together. I once said, "We can't afford this." He replied, "It's cheaper than a divorce." Dan was right.
9. Your friends should never be more important than your spouse.
10. Serve together at church or in the community. Find something you can do to work as a team.
11. Discover activities and fun you can enjoy as a couple. I learned to love golf.
12. Go on dates alone. Don't always go with another couple.
13. Read Christian books on marriage.
14. Keep going to marriage retreats. This can be one of your weekends away.
15. Your bedroom is your love sanctuary. Keep it clean and tidy and beautiful.
16. Play romantic music and light candles. Make your home and your bedroom a retreat you both want to escape to.
17. Do chores together. Raking leaves and shoveling snow is more fun as a twosome or a family.
18. Seek ways to make each other's life better. Ask yourself What can I do to make my honey happy today.
19. Celebrate big! Birthdays, Anniversaries, holidays are memory creators and make life fun.
20. Be flexible. A rigid spouse is not very huggable.
21. Practice kindness. Please and thank you never grow old. Kind people smile. So, smile. A lot.
22. Be patient. Spouses and marriages need time to grow up.
23. Consider your spouse before you consider yourself.
24. Romance never grows old! Be creative and romantic and fun!
25. Be content. Be happy with the person you married.
26. Build your spouse up. Don't push or nag.
27. Show and tell your spouse they are the most important person in your world.
28. Plan surprises!
29. Look nice at home and in bed.
30. Sit close.
31. Be present for big events whether a sick bed or a job promotion.
32. Pray for each other. Pray for your marriage.
33. Hold on during the bad times.
34. Disagree, but don't disrespect.
35. Choose your battles. Let go of the little irritations that don't matter.
36. Hold hands.
37. Fight fair. Stick to the subject of the dispute and never attack the person.
38. Forgive and forget. Remember, we all make mistakes.
39. Your spouse is not God, so don't expect perfection.
40. Encourage their dreams.
41. Avoid immorality of all kinds by watching and reading only uplifting, pro-marriage movies and television.
42. Choose your friends wisely.
43. Seek advice and counselling from Bible-believing, Godly pastors and friends.
44. Remember: This too will pass. What upsets you today may be forgotten tomorrow.
45. Leave your parents and cleave to your spouse.
46. Live, act, and speak like a married person. Leave your single life behind.
47. Don't belittle your spouse in public or private.
48. Our children knew our marriage bed was where mommy and daddy slept, not them. I know this is controversial, but it was important in our marriage.
49. Buy a lock for your bedroom door. Especially necessary when living with teens (for their sake and yours!).
50. Always seek to glorify God in your marriage! Your marriage is not about you, but about God's glory.
We're celebrating our 49th Anniversary big, by redoing our honeymoon through New England. I'm so glad we held on to each other when our marriage almost fell apart. Be blessed. Enduring love is the best!
Happy Anniversary to us! Remembering the splashes of serenity and forgetting the mud and muck, we press on!