The Best Marriage Advice I Ever Received

Good advice, as the saying goes, is worth its weight in gold.

When I was in the trenches of marriage and raising kids my mom gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. When she said it, it made me pause. It made me think. It made me alter a few priorities.

It changed my life.

“Remember this: if the Lord gives you good health you’ll have as many years without children in your home as you will with children in your home. Don’t ever neglect your marriage. It will make your life richer now and sweeter then.”

In the dailiness of dishes, dirty laundry and disciplining kids, it never occurred to me that we’d have the same number of years without the kids as with them. So I did the math:  25 years with kids, 25 years without kids.

Wow. She was right.

30 years into this thing called marriage I’m so glad Mom gave me this advice. And I’m glad I listened. We are glad I listened.

This wasn’t the only good advice I’ve received over the years. Here are just a few other words of wisdom I’m glad I picked up along the way:

  1.  Look With Your Heart.

Anyone can look with their eyes; the truly wise partner looks with her heart. If we only use our eyes to see we’ll eventually focus on what we don’t like: The chore he didn’t do to our liking. The way he handles the kids differently than we do. The balding head or the protruding tummy where the six-pack used to be.

But when we look with our heart we see a different story. A man who comes home tired but still tries to fix the toilet. The guy who wrestles with the kids until our home is filled with squeals of laugher and delight. The man who accepts our cellulite and saggy skin and thinks we’re sexy anyway.

Open your eyes and look with your heart.

 

2.  Never Stop Being His Girlfriend.

Girlfriends are fun. Wives…hmmm…sometimes not so much. But who ever said just because you said “I do” you had to become a different you?  Sure, you have bills and busy schedules, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cuddle or the couch or sneak a quick kiss or tell him he rocks your world.  It doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun. Or stop being fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Learn When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up and Never, Ever, Clam Up.

Some things are best left unsaid. Some things are best laid bare. If you’ve ever heard me speak on marriage you’ve heard me say “Don’t make the small things big. Don’t make the big things small”.  It’s so easy to get this backwards. But it’s important that we don’t.

4.  Remember He’s Your Partner

Few of us would treat our business partners like we sometimes treat our life partners. If you’re married you’re part of a team in this thing called life. Teammates encourage each other. Teammates work side by side toward a common goal. Teammates help each other when the going gets tough. Teammates know if one succeeds, the team succeeds.

That man you face each day?  He’s on your team. And you are on his. Treasure your similarities and value your differences. Treat each other as partners and resist the temptation to pick each other apart.

An eighty year old man who’d been happily married for sixty years once told me “there’s no fun like work!”

 

5. Everyone has Tough Times

If you live long enough with one person you’ll hit a few bumps in the road. Don’t jump ship just because things get hard. 90% of people who said their marriage was “highly unsatisfying” rated their marriage “satisfying or highly satisfying” five years later. Everyone–everyone–goes through difficulties. Tough times don’t last but tenacious marriage partners do.

6. The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Husband to Make God Your Hub

It’s tempting to make your kids, or your career, or even your spouse the focal point of your life. But when God is the hub of life and marriage relationships roll along as they’re supposed to. Like a wheel in alignment, they’re able to keep going, even over rocky terrain. Prayer, Christian community, time in God’s Word–these things give us the perspective and power to live life as it was meant to be lived.

 

7. Never Stop Growing

Last week I learned about a new program my friend Jill Savage and her husband, Mark, are launching called www.NoMorePerfectDateNight.com.  I first met Jill when I spoke for a national ministry called Hearts at Home, where Jill served as the founder and Executive Director. Her husband Mark was a pastor. Together they had five kids–four biological and one adopted.  Sounds like the perfect couple with the perfect family and the perfect marriage, right?

Except it wasn’t.  Here’s what Jill says:

Looking back, it wasn’t the big things that made a difference. It was the little things. Things that simmered under the surface. Things unnoticed. Unattended. Untouched. These unknowns began an unraveling that gained momentum over time. No marriage crumbles in a day. It’s a drift of one centimeter to another, one feeling or one decision that leads to another feeling or decision that’s a little off-center. If left unaddressed, those feelings will draw us away from each other instead of toward each other.”

I’ll never forget the summer evening I sat across from Jill as she unearthed her heartbreaking reality: her husband was having an affair. This was a woman who understood pain. Betrayal. Hurt.

As she continued her story it became clear this same woman also understood forgiveness, hope and redemption. A woman with real-life wisdom born out of real-life living. We parted that night not knowing how their story would end.

But here’s the truly beautiful part: they made their way back to each other. They survived. And now they thrive. Together.

This is a couple that’s been though it all and as a result has real, honest-to-goodness advice.  The kind that will help you and your relationship. That’s why they created www.NoMorePerfectDateNight.com.  And it’s why I’m passing this information along to you–something I’ve never, ever done.

 

 

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