How To Stay “Happily” Married
After our recent milestone anniversary, many wanted to know our “secret” for staying happily married for forty-five years. I guess the honest answer would be that we have not been happily married the entire forty-five years. Marriage is neither always happy nor always easy, but I would not have wanted to spend the past forty-five years with anyone else. And even if I had to make the same mistakes again, I would do it all over again. A good marriage, like raising good kids, requires a lot of work and at times endurance. Raising bad kids would be easy because all you do is let them do whatever they want to do. Raising good kids takes a lot of effort. Having a good marriage requires a lot of effort on the part of each one of us, but not always at the same time. There are times when one of us had to work harder than the other. Life happens like that. So the following are some of my answers about having a good marriage and becoming one as the bible tells us to be. It is a simplified look, but the basics are what we all have to work with.
Marriage, first and foremost, is based on a great commitment. I know that you probably thought I would say that it was based on love, and it is, but at the root level of love is commitment. Without that commitment, neither party in the marriage will endure the hard things that come. It is that commitment that makes you one. Sometimes it appears in marriage that the couples strive to see which one of them the marriage will become. That never works. We became one because we decided not to be me or thee, but rather “we.” We have talked things out more often that I could have ever imagined when we first got married. Becoming one seemed so easy when we said “I Do.” The truth is that it takes a lot of work and continues to evolve through the phases of life.
It is important that couples realize that you do not “get it worked out” and everything just goes from there. A marriage has to evolve through phases in life. What works today, may need to be adapted next week. The demands on our family now are different than when we had small kids at home. Jobs change, ministries change, and we change whether we want to or not. And not only do the externals change, but we change internally, also. As difficult as it might be to discuss, our bodies go through changes that affect even our core level thinking. Janet has said that her most difficult time to keep her thoughts in check was from forty to fifty. I think it was also about the same for me. Call it middle age crisis, post something, pre something, or hormone imbalance, and then add in the empty nest, uncompleted dreams, and for us an uncertain future at times, and you had a recipe for difficult times. We had to adapt and at times we had to endure. That word “endure” sounds so awful, but that is what commitment will allow you to do while you work through difficult times.
Above all, we have continued to have hope. Hope that difficult times would not last. Hope that one day we would find ourselves sitting in rockers on the porch and sharing all the good memories we have had through the years. Hope for our kids and grandkids to have even better lives than we have had, but knowing that they, too, will have to love, commit, endure, and keep hope in order to have the good things that we have. And hope that each tomorrow, we can wake up and look at each other and say, “Morning, babe, I love you.”