“When our kids are grown gone, we want to be just like you and Mary.”
That is what a friend said to my husband sometime back. He was referring to the fact that John and I travel a lot, but we didn’t just start that when we had an empty nest.
AND…it isn’t the travelling that is the key.
It is about learning to do this thing called life together, even when things are not so great.
Let me start at the beginning…
John and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in May of this year. Life didn’t turn out exactly like I thought it would. I don’t have 2-4 children. I don’t live where I thought I would. I am not doing the work I thought I would be doing. But life is good and my marriage is even better! I am married to my best friend, yet life has not always been roses. Some of you may know that we have buried a daughter, we left our home of 25 years and moved across the country, we’ve endured sickness, and we have had periods of no income. While these things help shape who we are, they do not define who we are or what our marriage will be like. Marriage takes work, everyday. Every year. And then some.
There are a few things that I believe are key when it comes to having a good marriage. Here are a few ideas:
- have date night. Take the time to be a couple at least once a month. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Buy a bag of $2.00 popcorn and rent a movie for $1.25.
- talk. Seriously. I mean this. A friend with several children and a husband that travels regularly told me that once he started travelling, she thought it had been good for their relationship. How you ask? She said it was because since they were talking on the phone after the kids had Skyped or talked they were talking with each other about life. About them. About things…not just about the kids. I think, at times, it is easy to fall into the trap where our conversations with our spouse revolve around the kids, the house or the bills. We forget to connect on other levels and we start to lose something.
- don’t put your kids before your marriage. You were a couple before you were parents! God created the couple BEFORE he created the family with kids or the church! I knew a couple that did so much with and for their kids that when they got older and their kids were gone, they really had nothing in common. He did his thing. She did hers. It is OK to tell your kids, no you can’t do this or that. I know another couple that chose not to have their children participate in an activity in which they had previously been very active. Why? Because the volunteer commitment required by families was more than this family could do, so the family made a different choice.
- have s*x. Enough said. If that is a problem and it is a medical issue, then discuss it with your doctor. If there is another problem, then discuss it with someone whom you trust. Make this a priority.
- pray for your spouse. At Allume last year I received a copy of Kathi Lipp’s book, Praying God’s Word for your Husband. I had always prayed for John, but this changed the WAY I prayed. In a good way. You might consider buying the book.
It is easy to stand at the altar and say “I do.” Maybe we looked at our spouse with dreamy eyes and imagined how perfect our life would be. Ten weeks, months or years later things didn’t look so perfect. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be good. It just might need a little tune-up!
Does your marriage need a tune-up? What can you do to make a difference?