We started dating when we were 16 years old. We thought we were grownups and knew everything. We certainly knew that we wanted to be together. He was tall, athletic, cute and popular. I had never dated anyone less than two year older (I was just WAY too cool and mature for that). Exclusive dating was new to me, believing it was more fun to keep my options open...but after two weeks with this boy, I didn't need other options. That was in November of 1972. (I feel like a dinosaur even admitting it.) We went to college, got married and now, on our 30th anniversary (May 26th) I'd like to share some lessons I've learned. These are the top six:
- Husbands need to hear and speak fewer words than wives. He gets tired of listening to the whole story, so get to the point fast and don't fear silence. When he speaks, try to learn his shorthand so you don't have to make him elaborate or clarify. Save that for the really important discussions. Lengthy, irrelevant conversations can be taxing for some men.
- Wives need to be less critical of themselves and stop complaining. Why point out your inflated butt or deflated chest? Learn to love yourself or shut up about it. (Take care of yourself... stewardship of your fitness/appearance is important!) He doesn't know what to say when you utter these gripes and likes the way you look naked regardless of your complaints.
- Remember to let him know you appreciate him. (Even if you're going through a time when you don't!) Find something to thank and praise him for; working hard at his job, a good "dad moment," how a shirt looks on him...anything. Let him know you're supportive of his efforts and proud of him.
- Don't neglect physical intimacy. Sometimes we get tired, bored or complacent about this. I've known women whose low self-esteem causes them to avoid making love and having fun with this significant component of marriage. What a loss!
- Husbands and wives need to find, nurture and pursue their individual passions and God-given purposes. If we wrap ourselves entirely in our marriage and family there will come a time when things become quiet and we'll be lost. Feed the dreams you have and you'll be more fulfilled, making you a much better partner.
- If we truly learn to put God at the center of our marriage things come together more fluidly. If both partners put the other first, everyone wins. Forgiveness will come more naturally and may be necessary less often.
I haven't been the best wife in the world. In fact, I've made some grave mistakes and have regrets for my failings. I know my husband has the same humble attitude. Mostly I know that over time, raising two kids together and running a business side-by-side we've weathered the storms and survived the relationship challenges that everyone faces. We're best friends, lovers, and partners for life. That's what I've learned from my 30 years of marriage.
Whether you've been married a year or 50, or even if you're single and a good observer; you've surely got some relationship wisdom to share below.