“In everything you do, be careful to treat others in the same way you’d want them to treat you, for that is the essence of all the teachings of the Law and Prophets.” (Matthew 6:9, TPT)
Today, Adrian and I just hit another milestone marriage anniversary. When we tell people how long we’ve been married, we are almost always asked, “To what do you attribute your success and longevity?” In this day and age, any marriage that lasts over 20 years is considered remarkable, and indeed, it is.
So, how have we lasted this long? There are several reasons.
First, we decided long ago that we would live by the words of Jesus in the scripture above. We have chosen to treat each other the way we want to be treated. In other words, if I don’t want to be spoken to harshly, I won’t do that to my husband. If he doesn’t want to be insulted, he won’t insult me. We are kind to each other because we want kindness in return. It’s a simple yet profound way to live life together.
Am I saying we got it right all the time? Of course not! To say yes to that would infer that we are perfect, and we are not, by any means. But we’ve also learned the secret of asking for and giving forgiveness promptly. In other words, we don’t hold grudges.
Years ago, we created a “never” list. On it, we listed the things we would never do each other, and we have worked tirelessly not to violate that list. It went something like this:
- We will never go to bed angry.
- We will never criticize each other in public.
- We will never make each other the brunt of a joke.
- We will never stop doing “loving things” even when we’re mad.
- We will never put each other down – ever!
We, of course, have added a few more items over the years.
Marriage is hard work! That’s why so many give up on it. There are personality clashes to deal with. Then there’s the whole pride and selfishness with which to contend. She wants her way and he wants his. Many people don’t see those things very much during the dating process. Everyone is on their best behavior because they want to impress their new boyfriend or girlfriend, and their eyes are filled with fairy dust that soon falls to the ground after the honeymoon. It’s sad but true.
I feel that many folks give up on marriage because they have so few examples of those who have chosen to fight to stay together. It takes a lot of discipline to stay true to one’s vows. Do you remember your vows? That vow was a promise to do what you said you would do. It’s not like a New Year’s resolution that can be easily broken with no real consequences. It’s much more serious than that, and God expects us to honor that promise whether we feel like it or not.
Over our many years of marriage, we have chosen to grow together. We try to stay connected by sharing our interests with each other – even little things. If I read an article that captures my attention, I will discuss it with Adrian. When he gets a particular revelation during his Bible reading, he will share it with me. We keep ourselves involved with each other, and we live face to face. In other words, we pay attention to what the other is doing by simply showing interest. When either one of us wants to pursue something that is of very little interest to the other, we do our best to be as supportive as possible and help each other reach the goal.
The main thing that keeps our marriage thriving is our personal relationship with God. He is the center of all we do. It’s important to us both that God is pleased with our lives. That’s why we try to live by His word, every day. He is the One who keeps us on track because we are accountable to Him even before we’re accountable to each other.
I look forward to many more years of marriage to the most amazing man I know. It’s been a fun ride.