A friend of mine writes often of his marriage and the mistakes he and his wife made that ultimately ended their relationship. He writes candidly and openly about the tragedy of it all.
When I read his posts it always causes me to be thankful for the relationship I have with my wife. Even though we’ve been married 26 years there is no guarantee we’ll be married another day, let along another 26 years unless we express thankfulness for the G I F T of marriage.
Now it is true, all marriages experience difficult moments and trying circumstances. That’s a fact of any relationship, even the closest friendship. A good marriage takes work. Every day each person must work to make the relationship work. As much as we would like to believe love is the factor that moves things forward, it is more than that. The emotion of love ebbs and flows with our own “feelings” and can often be misinterpreted. We don’t always feel in love. That does not diminish the fact that we ARE in love. It simply means there are times when we don’t feel love. That is where the work comes in and the G I F T of marriage.
God — Having God at the center of any relationship changes the dynamic. It is no longer me and my wife, it’s me, my wife and God. A sense of the divine can do a good deal when it comes to smoothing rough spots on the road to a good marriage. That does not necessarily mean you always believe the same things. My wife and I often have differences when it comes to “theology” or the interpretation of Scripture. But that doesn’t diminish the fact we are both intent on keeping God at the center of our relationship. Without the influence of the divine, working through the challenges of marriage are more difficult.
Inclusion — Including the other person in the every day matters of life is important. It can be as simple as “How was your day?” then listening with intention. Almost everyday my wife and I go through that “ritual.” She’ll ask about my day and I’ll ask about hers. We often commiserate, complain and criticize the events of the day, while giving support and an occasional “I understand” along the way. Another could be as challenging as going to an event that is important for them that may seem less important to you. And of course, it is including the other in financial decisions. After all, money can be a real deal breaker when it comes to relationships. Not so much how much money you might have, but how that money is spent. There can also be dynamic shifts where the wife makes significantly more than the husband. This can play on men’s fragile egos if it is not discussed.
Fun — Have fun with one another. Enjoy laughter and spending time together. One of our relationship rituals is Saturday morning breakfast. It is a given, if I’m not working, then we’re going to breakfast together on Saturday morning. It is a special time for us. I suppose you could call it a “date” although we never use that term. It is simply a chance to spend time with one another before weekend “to-do” list takes over our time and attention. Other couples we know do have a “date night.” My daughter will often do impromptu coffee breaks or lunch with her husband while the kids are involved in activities away from the home. Whatever it is, have fun with one another. Enjoy each other’s company more than any other. Fun can be the fertile soil that makes love bloom in a variety of colors.
Trust — This is the deal maker and the deal breaker. If there is not trust in the other person it is difficult to make love thrive under any circumstance. Lack of trust is like a poison that builds in the system until finally enough toxin is accumulated that it kills. If trust has been violated in some fashion, talk about it and work through it. Then begin building the bonds of trust anew. It’s not easy. Remember the “work” word in the introduction? Rebuilding trust takes work. Hard work. Years of hard work. I know there have been times when I pushed my wife to the edge when it came to trust. Those were difficult times. Trying times. Devastating times. However, we’ve worked through that. It has been more difficult for her than I could ever imagine. But we’ve made it to the other side. Now let’s be clear, “trust” is more than being faithful to one another. Trust involves speaking well of one another. Being honest with one another. Having each other’s back in challenging times. It is knowing that you want the best for the other person and striving to make that happen.
Now I’m no expert when it comes to marriage. However, from experience, I have learned what is effective and what is not. It seems to me that marriage is the gift, love is the wrapping paper.