The choice to marry is supposed to be life-changing. Rather than live a solitary life dedicated to personal goals and ambitions I willingly and happily join another person in walking a path that benefits both of us.
I found the old tape of our wedding ceremony, located the last cassette player in our home, and devised a way to pipe that sound track into the digital world. With an MP4 recording I can snip out segments and post audio reminders of our agreement as needed, but I’m smart enough not to deploy that tactic.
My memories are fuzzy about much of our wedding but Shawn’s radiance as she entered the church sanctuary is forever etched in my brain. Though the recorder did not catch my comment it was a single word, “Wow!”
The service included a series of questions followed by my solemn response, “I do.” The pastor pronounced us man and wife and instructed, “You may.” And we did. We drove away giddy with excitement and oblivious to the quirks we both would manifest to annoy one another.
Men, how do we preserve that euphoria, or can we? Does marriage grow stale by its very nature or can we find new reasons to be in love as the years pass? What about the inevitable friction that happens when two people share space–can we reduce it? Here are some starting points and I would love to read yours. Why not consider adding a comment to the post to share what you’ve learned about making marriage last?
We started in a one bedroom apartment chosen for its cheap rent and moved to a two bedroom apartment for even cheaper rent. Our evenings included long walks along tree-lined streets with ancient houses sporting curved driveways. Deeper into the city we passed houses in various stages of disrepair. Some were boarded up. For sale signs dotted several of the shabby lawns. And we talked and dreamed of one day owning and restoring one of those mansions.
Making a marriage work includes sessions of dreaming, and reaching toward the future. Sure, many of the options will not happen, but the fun and the bonding comes from the together part.
I excel at some tasks like counting our pennies, and projecting the fiscal future for our home. But ask me to prepare Thanksgiving dinner and you better hope the pizza place delivers on a holiday. The record of creation includes God’s evaluation of one aspect not yet completed, the icing to be added to the cake. Here’s the scoop.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18 NASB
Helper does not imply subservient or of lesser value. She is not a piece of property. Shawn is my equal and in many ways my better. Our relationship is a partnership with equal votes and vetoes. We team up to deliver our strengths to enhance our partner’s weaknesses. In our unity our efforts are multiplied.
Nonstop work is not healthy. Career focus to the exclusion of all else in life may lead one up the ladder but I’ve read it’s lonely at the top. And what happens when the last rung is crossed? My ladder has a warning posted there, “Do not stand here!”
When is the last time you and your spouse shared a belly laugh, that moment where laughter has so overwhelmed your senses that conversation and further action are disabled? And belly laughs usually come with aftershocks. The first round dies down, breath is desperately inhaled, tears are wiped away, and another round of joviality begins. Laugh often.
- Switch off the depressing media sources and play a game.
- Share puns.
- Select a good book and take turns reading chapters aloud.
- Peak out the window and invent wild stories about what the neighbors are up to.
- Don’t be afraid to exhibit silliness.
- Sneak off one afternoon and catch a movie.
- Play in the rain and splash all the puddles.
Life’s demands combine with the erosive force of a dam-break to force us apart. Only when we join together to seek the Lord’s guidance do we find the strength to move forward. Prayer is an unlimited opportunity with unimaginable results.
At the core of my husband thoughts is this one, “Shawn is a gift on loan to me from God.” That perspective changes how I respond to her, how I treat her, and certainly how I value her. The Creator put us together. Was His concern that I not do life on a diet of fast food, or did He have a higher plan?
He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22 NASB
As a couple we have opportunities to reach out to others, to give and help, and to share and minister. Looking outward to serve others does not diminish our union. It only makes the bond stronger and increases our sense of combined purpose.
The word for today is together. That’s the secret, men.
(Follow this link for Part 1 of this series.)