Things that I have learned about making marriages last

May marked the 11th year that I have been married, and the 15th year that my wife and I have been together.

Our anniversary was amazing. We have not always had money (this year was no different), but the Lord has always given us the ability to enjoy time with one another.

I love my wife. I love her with all my heart. She has been by my side through all the challenges and the victories. She has been the shining light in many of my darkest moments. Jesus has been ever so kind when he put us together.

When we first met I did not have her best interest at heart. Let’s just says that I was not the person you’d bring home to momma. I had been through a lot of things in life, and I was very damaged when I met my wife. Emotionally, I was long gone. I didn’t want a wife. I didn’t want a family. I didn’t even want a long term girlfriend. All I wanted was an excuse to party with no attachment. Definitely not the person you’d bring home to momma.

She was (and is) stunning. The way she carried herself. The way God connected us. The way we interacted. The chemistry we had. Her beauty (inside and out) captivated me. I had been given a gift with her love.

After 15 years I have reflected on many things. Things that I have come to believe is what held two broken people together for so long.

#1 The commitment has to be stronger then the feelings.

Feelings wear off. Feelings lie. Feelings mislead. Commitment is correct. Commitment is straightforward. Commitment is always stronger then your feelings. Long after the feelings are gone the commitment is what remains.

Love is a commitment. It gets you through the toughest of times. It pushes you beyond pain. It makes you do the right thing even though you don’t “feel” like it. It allows you to forgive when you really don’t want to forgive. It helps you wake up in the morning with a confidence that the person besides you is the one that is building a life with you as well.

Don’t get me wrong! You have to feel things as well. I would hate sex if it was only a product of reproduction. There needs to be romance and giddiness in the relationship. There needs to be sensuous touch and loving embraces. Gary Chapman’s “The 5 love languages” have been instrumental in cultivating and keeping romantic love alive.

When I married her I told her I would never leave her. No matter what happened. I would never leave. I have stuck by those words. Even when I was ready to throw in the towel I stood by my vow. I would never leave her. Those words were tested numerous times, but I have always stayed. My commitment was always stronger then what I felt.

#2 You have to remove the quit option

If you can threaten each other with divorce then save yourself time and hurt and go through with it. I know that sounds shocking coming from a pastor. You have to hear me out though. I have seen countless couples threaten each other with divorce. As if that was the ultimate bargaining chip. I will divorce you if you don’t….

Couples, who are hurting, use this as a way to bully and threaten each other into getting what they want. If you can quit then do it. As long as the option is on the table then at some point one of you will take it.

Having the option to quit reminds me of stories that I have heard about Navy Seal training. Most everyone knows what a navy seal is. The elite navy forces unit. Each navy seal recruit has to go through a rigorous test to join, go through weeks of some of the hardest training on the planet, and then go through “Hell Week.” During hell week they go through the most tortuous experiences in order to transform them into soldiers. Throughout Hell Week instructors continually remind candidates that they can “Drop-On-Request” (DOR) any time they feel they can’t go on by simply ringing a shiny brass bell that hangs prominently within the camp for all to see. No one will ridicule them, question them, or comment. When they ring the bell they are given a meal and a trip home.

This bell stares them in the face at all times. The option to quit continually hangs in front of them. Tempting them to give up. 1000s of people enter training at one time. Only 200 people complete it. The issue is the quit options. When they ring the bell something mental happens. It creates a mental block that tells them they can and will never accomplish this task.

When you and I have an option to quit it becomes incredibly more difficult to
accomplish what you walked away from. This ruins any chance of fixing what could
have been fixed in your relationship.

You can quit your marriage, your job, your life, and your faith. We have it deep down
inside of us. If I don’t like it then I can do something different. Doesn’t matter what
God is saying, because we believe if it gets tough it must not be God. Have you read
the Bible?

Word of warning though: If there is abuse present in the relationship then get out of it.
No one should ever be abused for any reason.

#3 Determine what is right and not who is right.

My pride says I am always right. My dislike for conflict says she is always right. The truth is that the relationship is not about who is right it is about what it what. Over the years I have had to remember this principal.

It is so easy to fight about being right. Being right doesn’t matter. It fuels my ego and pride. So what if she gives in or conceded the fight. That doesn’t automatically make me feel good.
We must always stick to what is right. This is defined in the Bible. Love and being loving is always right. Where my previous actions towards my spouse loving? It doesn’t matter if my actions were justified. I can justify just about anything I want. Where my actions loving? Were they edifying and encouraging? This doesn’t mean we ignore issues or the problem. This simple means I do not have to fight about them.

#4 Learn to forgive… Often

There is not a lot I can say about this one that isn’t already explained in the heading. We have all been guilty of holding things against others. We have all been guilting has keeping records of wrongs. We have all been guilting of being unloving. We are all broken messes.

Part of saying I do is saying yes to my spouses issues, challenges, and shortcomings. What did you think they were going to go away when you married? Ha! Often times we get worse as we grow comfortable.

We have to learn to forgive and do it often. God holds no record of wrong towards me. Who am I to hold a record of wrong against my spouse?

What is done is done. Forgive. Learn from what happened so that you never go that way again.

The worst thing we can do is move forward while holding onto offense.

#5 Death do us part…. For better of for worse… Take them seriously

These weren’t suggestions. In the seasons of your marriage you will have summertimes and wintertimes. Times when everything is light and fun and times when everything is dark and hard. You will have times were you are so in love and times when you don’t even like the person you married anymore. It happens to everyone. Especially those who have never dealt with their previous issues before they entered into their current marriage.

The truth is simple. I married my wife knowing that there were going to be troubled spots. We both came from rough beginnings. I married her anyway. She would share the same sentiment. When things in our life became very dark we stood by each other. When it seemed as if life gave up on us we never gave up on each other.

Marriage is a commitment. Marriage is a covenant. It is not something you do it is part of who you are. Always take your vows seriously. If you do not remember them look them up. Remember that you gave your life to one another until the day one of your die.

#6 Jesus

I put this last for a specific reason. Jesus is the most important person in your relationship. If you are not cultivating a relationship with Him then your relationship with each other will fall apart. Jesus has been, is, and will always be the glue that keeps us together!

Nothing is impossible with God. There is no marriage that will fail with Him. There is no darkness that you cannot recover from because of Him. There is no life in your marriage without Him. Make Him the priority and you will have a strong and healthy marriage!

Until next we meet! Keep growing!

Be Blessed!