10 Decisions that have made our Marriage Great
Divorce was REMOVED from our vocabulary, it is never an option!
When we first met and dated, we had many discussions about what a good marriage would look like and the level of commitment it would take. We both knew that we wanted to stay in love and never wanted to be with anyone else. That is how most romances start but we also had come from families where our parents had stayed together. I think this was where we first learned about relational commitment. I had grown up seeing my dad show his faithful love to my mom so it was ingrained in me that even though there may be disagreements, divorce just wasn’t a word that would come up. So when I met Giva, I reassured her that divorce would be a word that wasn’t in our vocabulary. We would do whatever it took to never get to a point of even being a thought in our marriage.
We committed to be HONEST with each other from the beginning
The hardest discussion I’ve ever had with my wife was before I told her that I loved her. As I said above, we had many long discussions and the more time we spent together, the more quickly we were falling in love. I knew that I didn’t want to have anything come up in our marriage from my past (i.e., no skeletons coming out of the ground to haunt us) so one night, I sat Giva down and told her everything. I told her about past relationships, past loves, and past mistakes. I knew I had a different kind of love for her than any other girl before so I think subconsciously I wanted a clean slate to start our journey. So after I told her everything, she looked me in the eye and said the words that I believe became the foundation for our marriage. She said, “I don’t know you for who you were, I know you for who you are.” It was the first time in my life that I had encountered true unconditional love. She had given me a chance to start fresh in our relationship, but more than that, I knew I could always be honest and not lose her.
We have RESPECT for each other, especially taking the other’s feelings into consideration
This is where the rubber meets the road in every relationship. Do you truly have respect for the other person? Do you see that person as an equal? As a man, I believe it’s time for men to quit believing they are superior to women, even subconsciously. I have always believed that my wife and I are equal. I believe many pastors have done a lot of damage to marriages because of misreading Paul’s views in the Bible. We have chosen to follow the biblical view of two becoming one, ultimately meaning that neither is above the other, but both are committed to growing stronger as one together.
We CHOOSE to love each other, even when we don’t like each other
There are moments in every human relationship when people don’t like each other, marriage included. The truth of the matter is sometimes we don’t like the ACTIONS of the other person. We think we don’t like the person, but the truth is we just don’t like what they’ve done, what they’re doing, or what they’re planning on doing. This means my wife and I don’t hold grudges towards one another. We forgive, we give space when needed, and we learn to agree to disagree sometimes. But most of all, we still consciously love each other, even when we’re mad.
We MAKE each other laugh
Laughter is so important in marriage and many times it helps couples get through very stressful situations. For years I have changed the lyrics to a song playing on the radio (kind of like Weird Al), and this always makes my wife smile. She has goofy traits that make me laugh often. I love to make my wife laugh for many reasons, but the biggest is getting to see her beautiful smile. I will admit that as we’ve gotten older, I don’t laugh as often and it’s been because of fading health and stressful life situations. With that being said, it’s probably more important at our stage in life to be intentional about finding humor every day.
We SUPPORT and BUILD each other up
I cannot count how many times I’ve heard couples demean one another. Phrases like “My old lady” or “My deadbeat husband” just to name a few. I always build up my wife. I’ve told her almost every day of our marriage (sometimes foreign travel kept me from speaking to her) for over 28 years how beautiful she is and that I love her. She has equally expressed her love to me and also been my greatest advocate, even when I’m wrong. It is so important in marriage because compliments don’t come as often as they once did in our society. Besides, who doesn’t want to be supported and built up?
We are UNITED in our parenting
We have always made important parenting decisions together and refused to allow our kids to play us against one another. We are empty nesters now, but when growing up our kids knew that we were united in our decisions. We taught them that if they asked one of us a question, the answer was always, “What did mom/dad say?” If the answer was “NO or YES,” then that was the final answer. I told and showed my kids that I loved them dearly and would do everything I possibly could for them BUT their mom always came first because she was the one I was growing old with.
We have kept DATING throughout our marriage
I believe continual dating is vital to growing older together. I’ve seen so many couples grow apart once they have kids, simply because they no longer invest in each other. They forget why they are together and without constant dating, romance seems to die as well. There are so many marital issues that could be prevented simply through intentional dating, even if it’s just having lunch together once a week. There were times we dated more than others, depending on our season of life, but we always took time to grow together. Dating allows people to stay on the same page. Dating keeps romance alive. Dating can turn sex into intimacy. Dating keeps people young and creative. Dating keeps marriages fresh. Dating turns lovers into friends, friends into best friends, and best friends into soulmates. If you get nothing else out of this article, get this right. KEEP DATING!
We TELL others how much we love one another
When we first met, we smiled so much our faces hurt. Whenever my wife walks in a room, I still smile from ear to ear. But more than that, I want the world to know how much I love my wife. No one will ever wonder about our love for each other because we express our love publicly and often. This isn’t a sexual expression of love but a kiss, hug, or holding hands. So whether it’s actually telling others how awesome the other one is or the look in our eyes, people know we have a deep love for one another. I’m a firm believer that expressing our love to others also reinforces and strengthens our love.
FAITH was & is foundational to our marriage
We met in seminary and it was our individual faith that brought us together initially. Faith in God has always been important to us, and honestly, my wife’s faith has always been stronger than mine. Even through dark days, days when I almost lost my faith, my wife's faith has helped me to endure.
Please feel free to comment on your top decisions for a great marriage.