Now that, is a hard question!
My daughter-in-law asked me that one yesterday morning at the breakfast table!
I had to stop and think because there has been so much and I never quit learning!
I guess, I would have to say that patience and communication is something that is absolutely necessary! In fact I have an immediate example that just took me away from this blog:
Rick and I were at the office and he noticed the flowers outside were wilting and needed watered. I volunteered to deal with the flowers since he was getting ready to leave to go downtown. I told him to make sure to leave the door unlocked, so I could get back in.
He left in his car while I was watering the plants and as he was driving off, I went to open the very locked door!
All of my keys, cell phone etc. were in the office that now was locked.
So, on a hot day with me wearing a long sleeve shirt and wearing sandals instead of my tennis shoes, I marched myself all of the way downtown to retrieve a set of keys.
Good thing I had a long walk to cool off!
He explained that he actually had left the door a bit ajar but the wind must have shut it.
There is a choice in those moments to unleash one’s annoyance or to accept the fact that most of the time, the spouse who declared their undying, sacrificial love at the altar is not deliberately trying to sabotage the other’s life with obstacles to make it more difficult.
That also falls in line with grace. We must extend grace when the flub ups or misunderstandings happen. Heaven knows, God has had much grace and mercy on us!
Who are we not to extend it to those we love the most!
Humor comes in very handy when tension flares. Knowing not to take yourself or the other too seriously can carry a marriage down many a peaceful road.
Choose your battles and know which hills to die on.
Does it matter if the toothpaste lid got left off or the shoes got mud on the floor? No!!
Does it matter if someone has an affair? Yes!
Finally, I would say that due to the oneness factor in marriage, the work you put into loving that other person and building them up with much positive encouragement helping them be the best they can be, is the extent to which you will have a joyful and rich marriage.
Husbands and wives that criticize, nag, complain and control will only have a beaten down, discouraged and depressed spouse. This will do nothing for either partner.
Rick and I are a team. We are each other’s greatest cheerleaders. No one will know my weaknesses like he will. He can use that against me or lovingly and prayerfully help me with them. And I will do the same for him.
Nobody but a psychopath gets married in order to destroy another person. Most of us have the best hopes and dreams to build a foundation for a future that will last.
I believe that all of us can have that if we are quick to apologize, walk in humility and never quit growing and learning.
Christ is the author of that kind of love.
You have heard these words a million times but they cannot be stated enough and it will take a lifetime to apply them:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
These words are the measuring stick of love for me.
These are not words to throw up in Rick’s face but mine to be responsible to live up to.
Someday, I will stand before God and give an account for my life and I believe the most important question next to did I know His son and have faith in him, will be did I love like Him.
So, what have I learned in 37 years of marriage?
That I am only beginning to scratch the surface on this love thing and will need many more years of practice to get it right!
Lord willing, may it be so!