One of our nephews got married this past weekend.
At the reception, the DJ announced a dance for “All the married couples.” And then he said, “You know how this works…keep dancing until your year is called, so we can find out who here has been married the longest…”Wife looks and me and says, “Let’s do it!” I’d already been out on the floor dancing with one of our granddaughters so I was OK with the idea. I’m going to guess there were about 20 couples on the floor.
“5 years or less, please leave the floor…” “Dang,” said a young couple off to my right.
“15 years or less…please leave the floor..”
“25 years or less…
35 years or less...(the parents of the bride and groom left at this point.)
40 years…. (It was at this point we made a bee line to the edge of the floor.)
I could hear the DJ saying something about that last couple, turned out it was us. We were that last couple. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder, thought it was one of my brother-in-laws, for a second, then realized it was the DJ.
“Any words of advice?”
My mind went blank. Completely blank. And then, a thought began to take shape, but I wasn’t sure I should say it.
What the heck, he asked me again so I blurted it out: ,“It takes a lot of work” (not the most romantic words, but he’d asked, and as far as I was concerned, it was the truth. 🙂
He asked the question a third time? ” What words of advice would you give a younger couple after being married for 40 years?”
Fortunately, my wife had her wits about her and she said, “Well, coffee in bed…He brings me coffee in bed, and has done so for years..” (I could hear a collective awe) 🙂
“It’s the little things that matter. Kindness..”
After we sat down and the microphone was no longer in my face, my wife added…“I wish I would have said a sense of humor…a sense of humor in marriage goes a long ways!”
The year we marked our 25th anniversary, I did write down some thoughts on marriage. They are as true today as 15 years go and if you’ve never read my list, here is what I wrote:
#1. A marriage relationship is a living thing, very much like a plant. There are things you can do to enhance it, make it flourish, and there are things you can do in terms of neglect. It can go without water and sunlight for a spell, but make no mistake…the principle of sowing and reaping is just as relevant in marriage as in any area of life.
#2. A “healthy” marriage takes work. You don’t feel the “warm fuzzies” for each other all the time. Don’t panic…that is normal. Wife and I like to spend time together, we enjoy each other’s company. But, as Dr. Dobson puts it, “Emotions come and go. Do the deeds and the feelings will follow.”
Make the phone calls from work just to say, “Hi. I was thinking about you.” Bring her coffee in bed. Get out one-on-one, just the two of you , even if it’s just for a cup of coffee. Help out around the home with the dirty dishes, dirty, diapers, and here is a big one…pick up after yourself!
#3, Take time to listen and stay “current” with each other. Don’t pour all your energy into your job and have nothing left over for your family. Don’t become “married singles.” (two people living in the same home who no longer have anything in common.) If your job does take all of your energy, all of the time, then Buddy, you need to find a different job. There is nothing more tragic in life than a man who makes it to the top of the company ladder and loses his family in the process.
#4. Use these words often (You will need them):
“I was wrong.”
“Please forgive me.”
“You are right.”
#5. Dance…have fun…keep doing the silly things you did when you were just dating or courting.
#6. When (not if) you find yourself having an unresolved conflict in some area (money, sex, parenting, work, church, etc.) work at it until you find an answer! (God has used everything from books to other couples, to paid counselors, to help keep our boat afloat over the years.)
#7 Get out (or stay out) of debt. There are a lot of spin-off ramifications that come with financial pressure. Just a side note on this one- for the most part, we have been a one income family, and since I have chosen to make a living with my hands (I am in construction) we have made financial choices including…renting instead of owning the first 15 years of our marriage, driven an older dependable car, shopped @ garage sales, discount grocery stores, etc.
These are choices we all have to make, but as children enter the picture, Dad needs to have some time and energy left over at the end of the day or be willing to “pay the piper” later in life. (Remember the song, “Cat’s in the Cradle”???)
#8. Give each other some space and freedom. Trust and respect are foundational issues.
#9. Pray and share with each other spiritually.
#10 Be a forgiving person. Let’s face it, you are not perfect, your mate is not perfect, “stuff” happens. Cut each other some slack….practice grace….be the first to initiate reconciliation.
If you have any thoughts you would like to add to this list, absolutely feel free to do so.
I feel a nap coming on. 🙂 It’s raining here today. I took off work early in order to take a couple of our chickens to do a program for group of Kindergardeners before I sat down here at the computer.
What a hoot.
Take care. DM
Dancing with the granddaughters.