41 Lessons in 41 Years

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It was a hot, humid, sticky day during the summer of 1977. 

I was 22-years-old and had met the man of my dreams! We were going to be married on this glorious Sunday afternoon in the country church in which I had grown up.

The church, that held about 180 people, was filled to overflowing with 250 of our closest friends and family members.

I waited in the tiny women’s bathroom with 8 bridesmaids dressed in all the colors of the rainbow. I was about to become a wife …

I didn’t know that day that we would, over the course of our marriage, experience infertility, cancer, repeated miscarriages, financial challenges and depression. 

All I knew that miraculous day was joy… the joy of loving and being loved.  The joy of choosing and being chosen.

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Where has 41 years gone?  It has disappeared like a vapor in the reality of all that life has brought to us.  I blinked and 4 decades has passed by …

In honor of our 41st. wedding anniversary, I thought that I would share with you 41 tips… 41 words of wisdom!

So here goes… 

“41 Ways to Love the Marriage You Have Been Given!”

1 – Forgive frequently and easily.  Craig and I have often said that the first one to forgive is the one that wins!

2 – Find joy in the little things in life.  A shared cup of coffee in the morning … watching a sunset together in the evening … a phone call from a child who lives far away.  This is the stuff of which life is made! The little things in life are actually the big things.

3 – Pray together. Mountains move when a married couple takes the time to pray together for their children, their finances and their concerns.

4 – Serve together. Serving side by side is one of the building blocks of a great marriage.

5 – Listen more than you talk.

6 – Never even allow yourself to think about the “D” word.  If you don’t think it… you will never say it. If you never say it… you will never pursue it. (If you are wondering what word I am talking it… it starts with a “D” and ends with “ivorce”.)

7 – Remind yourself that it is not your job to “change” or “fix” your spouse. Love your spouse exactly the way they are today.

8 – Invest yourself in your spouse’s interests.  When we were first married, I realized that my husband loved watching football on Sunday afternoons.  Rather than feeling second place to a “pigskin,” I began to read the sports section so that I could be prepared for the Sunday afternoon ritual.  He was amazed! I love amazing this man of mine…

9 – Look at each other when you talk.  Make eye contact.

10 – Never raise your voices.

11 – Never call names.

12 – Don’t compare your spouse to anyone else’s spouse.

13 – Believe with all of your heart that this one person is your priority above everything and anyone else.  Then act like it.

14 – Don’t go to bed angry.

15 – Realize that your spouse is not God.  Your husband or your wife can never be to you what only the Lord can be.

16 – Don’t ever talk about your spouse behind his or her back. Only give good reports about your spouse to your parents, his parents, your children and your friends. Be respectful of your spouse – in private and in person.

17 – Say “I love you” often.

18 – Hold hands when you go for a walk.

19 – Say an encouraging word to your spouse when the tension is high.

20 – Choose to be a happy person.  It takes two happy people to build a happy marriage.

21 – Leave the past in the past.  Don’t bring up past failures, mistakes or wounds. It’s like bringing last week’s garbage back into the house.

22 – Read “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and then apply it to your marriage.

23 – Make worshiping the Lord together a priority.

24 – When you are most frustrated with your spouse – that is the moment when you should choose to be the kindest to them.

25 – Be kind to your spouse’s parents and siblings. Include them in holidays and in family gatherings.

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26 – Have devotions together at least once a week.  This doesn’t mean you need to sit down together and read 10 chapters in the Bible together… just talk about the Lord and what He has done for you. Share a thought with your spouse that you had during your personal quiet time. Talk about the things for which you are thankful.

27 – Have your own personal quiet time every day.  This one simple discipline will deliver a strength to your marriage that can never be measured.

28 – Smile at each other across the room.

29 – Share the responsibilities of the home.  Talk about expectations and figure out who gets to do what!

30 – Learn the power of compromise!

31 – Never lie to your spouse. Be a person of honor and tell the truth.

32 – Never correct your spouse in front of other people – especially in front of your children.

33 – Don’t expect your spouse to be perfect because you are not perfect either.  Together you might make a perfect couple… but alone, you are simply not perfect.

34 – Give your spouse the grace that you wish he or she would give to you.

35 – Remember why you fell in love… recall favorite memories… laugh about yesterday’s challenges.

36 – Remember that the covenant you made is not only with each other but it is with God!

37 – Laugh at his jokes even when you have heard them 1,000 times or more!

38 – Remember that your spouse is your partner and not your enemy. You win together and you lose together. When only one spouse wins … marriages loses.

39 – Keep the minor things minor.

40 – Act like adults and not like children.  Tantrums are not allowed!

41 – Choose each other anew every day.

Happy Anniversary, Craig! I love being your wife!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!