The reason for that is largely because I hit the jackpot in the husband department. After almost twenty years together ... and over 15 years of marital bliss ... Charlie gets me and for the most part, I get him. We go together like peas and carrots. We compliment each other well because we have learned how to draw upon each others strengths and
(Not that there are very many. At least not with me.)
Like most things in life, our marriage has had it's shares of highs and lows. But by and large, we've had more highs than lows. And there is no question in my mind or heart - this is the man I intend to spend the rest of my life with. Don't think for a minute I don't realize just how lucky I am. Oh yeah, baby!!
Now there are so many good people I know who have had their marriages end in divorce. It is my most sincere hope that this post does not open any wounds for them, but instead - strengthens their next relationship. Not if, but when that next relationship happens. Because after witnessing my 76-year old mother marry a wonderful 85-year old man, I have seen firsthand that love is, indeed, as perennial as the grass.
So. Last night. We attended a church service and because it has become commonplace for me to download my notes following a particularly thought provoking sermon, I'm going to share what I considered the highlights of the service, here.
Are you ready for this profound message?
Marriage is a lot like a cell phone.
In the beginning, you loved your phone because it was so cool.
Maybe your phone was cute. Or sexy. In a technological kind of way.
But after a while, what you once thought was cool is now old and outdated. Perhaps you're noticing other people's phones and wanting what they have? There is no doubt that whatever it was that initially attracted you to your phone is now dwindling. What once sizzled now barely fizzles because it is so deadly familiar.
Come on, who wants to be stuck with an old phone when you can get an upgrade? The time is ripe to get rid of the old (bag) phone and replace your model!
The problem is, in no time flat, that awesome NEW model will be outdated, too.
Because it's impossible to keep up with technology.
There was a little boy who was taking music lessons and his class was putting on a performance. The child knew all the words to all of the songs. He knew when it was his turn to sing and when it wasn't. He knew everything that he was supposed to do. But when the light was on him, he just stood there. His parents spoke to him and asked why did he not sing when it was his turn? And he very simply said, "I didn't want to."
He didn't want to be engaged in the performance and so he wasn't.
It wasn't about his inability to perform - it was about his attitude.
Changing your attitude is like changing your vision on life. Much like a new prescription for your eyes, can help you to see better, so a renewed commitment to embracing a better attitude in your marriage (and life) can help you to see things differently in your world.
Our minister spoke of his neighbor whose fence fell down in the recent rain storms. Much like his fence fell down last winter. And the winter before. And the winter before. And every year, the neighbor does a patch job. He pulls the fence up and hammers on some two by fours to keep it stable. But sure enough, the next rainstorm will inevitably knock the fence down again.
Are you satisfied with the easy fix, while knowing full well the next storm will cause damage?
Or are you willing to make the commitment to do the hard work. To dig down, pour some concrete, and spend the time and energy required to make the structure stronger?
Do you want to maintain or thrive?
If you feel like your marriage is stuck, there are four commitments that will help to get your marriage UNSTUCK.
Those four commitments are:
1) Commit to a long-term GROWING marriage.
Growing is an action and an investment.
Every marriage, even the good marriages, need a routine tune up.
In your marriage, are you surviving - struggling - or thriving?
Your marriage shouldn't just survive, it should thrive.
But do you know how to make your marriage thrive?
Yes? Well aren't YOU fabulous. You're excused for the day.
No? You are not alone. Please, read on.
2) Commit to SERVING your spouse.
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. (Roman 12:10)
...Live together in love as though you had only one mind and spirit between you ... None of you should think only of his own affairs, but consider other people's interests also. (Philippians 2:2,4)
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. (Oh damn. I've done that.) It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)The minister told a story that several years ago, his wife said to him, "It feels like you don't need me!" His first reaction was that she was correct. Of course he didn't need her. Why should he?! His father had died when he was a young boy and his mother went off to work. For the most part, he raised himself and in doing so, he learned to become fiercely independent and created a distance between himself and everyone around him.
and very deliberately - helped to break the wall down.
To truly succeed in a marriage, you need:
A) Physical Intimacy - Hopefully, this doesn't require an explanation. If it does, read this.
B) Spiritual Intimacy - Help each other grow spiritually.
C) Mental Intimacy - Help each other problem solve.
And you also need to:
3) Commit to ENJOYING life together.
Enjoy life with your wife... (Ecclesiastes 9:9)Marriage can become so routine and BORING. You absolutely need to enjoy the MOMENTS of life, together.
Enjoy life with your husband ... (Jen 1.24.10)
So, are YOU fun to be with?
Or are you uptight and tense?
You must be deliberate in having fun. Every single week, carve out a day for you AND your spouse. Put it on the calendar. Write it in ink. Make this a top priority, each and every week.
Because if you do not make the time, the time will disappear.
In the book, "His Needs, Her Needs" Dr. Harley writes that the top five needs of a man are:
1) Sexual Fulfillment
2) Recreational Companionship (possibly redundant with #1, above?)
3) Attractive Spouse
4) Domestic Support (know how to run the house)
And the top five needs of a woman are:
2) Conversation (feeling, not thinking)
4) Financial Support
5) Family Commitment
Wow. Those sure are different lists, aren't they?
Do you know what the needs are of YOUR spouse?
Before you think, "Oh yeah. I know what their needs are, but what about my needs?!"
Just remember this:
If you want to win in a marriage - learn how to serve.
You might be surprised, shocked even - at how when you give love - you receive love.
And then some.
4) Commit to putting God (or, the light that shines within you!) FIRST.
.... If we are living in the light of God's presence... then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other.... (1 John 1:7)
"Remain in me, and I will remain in you... you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5)
... The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)Let's think about that passage above...
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control.
Do you think any of those things would help you feel better about yourself - your marriage - your life? Would any of those things help you to feel less stuck in circumstances that you believe are completely outside of your control?
The closer you grow to God the more these fruits will be produced naturally.
Are you currently locked in to any bad habits that need to be changed?
Do you frequently withdraw from your spouse to do your own thing?
Do you go to bed at two different times?
Do you bicker and fight over the same topics?
Do you nag?
Do you spend quality time with each other during the week?
Do you routinely hug your spouse and tell them that you love and appreciate them?
Did you know that if you were to have sex 2-3 times a week, you would decrease your risk of heart disease by 45% and men would decrease their risk of heart attack by 50%?
Who thinks it's important to be healthy and live a long time?
OK then. I think that's a fairly succinct way of wrapping up this post.
Because my mother does read my blog, after all.