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We tied the knot. Now what?

It was a warm summer day in 1986 when we said, “I do.” Surrounded by family and friends, Terry and I promised to love and cherish each other. It was tender. It was sweet. We believed in marriage and had high hopes of “living happily ever after.” However, as we ran from the decorated ceremony under a shower of rice, I never dreamed how hard marriage would become as we lived it out in our daily lives.

It was the little things: 

I want the toilet seat down. He leaves it up. 

I am a night owl. He is a morning person. 

I like mild food. He loves spicy. 

I prefer the security of a budget. He wants freedom for spontaneous purchases. 

I am a little crunchy. He quickly takes a pill. 

I love to shop. He hates to shop. 

At the end of the day, I crave sleep; he craves sex.

Can you relate?

Have you vowed to love and cherish but find it hard to live out? On this Valentine weekend, can I give you a little hope? After thirty-two years of marriage, I love my man more now than when I said, ‘I do.’  Here are a few things that have helped me.

Different is not wrong. Different is just different. If we were both the same, one of us would be unnecessary. As we learn to respect the differences in one another and learn from each other, we have become better together.  “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)

Let go of the ‘grass is greener somewhere elsemyth. Mentally and emotionally drop the divorce option. Be all in. Water the grass on your side of the fence. Now, of course, there are exceptions to this advice, ladies. If you are in a relationship of abuse, I would never tell you to put you or your children in danger. However, we live in a culture that is quick to walk away. Once we decided to drop the divorce option, we both were able to invest deeply in our marriage. We learned to control our thoughts, and our actions followed. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

We try our best to Fight Fair and Forgive Quickly. Fighting fair means don’t attack the person, do attack the problem. Fighting fair means don’t bring up past failures and hurts. It means to forgive your spouse. Forgive like Christ has forgiven. We are all a mess really and need forgiveness. Understand that nothing good comes from holding grudges. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

Tell the truth in love. Both partners must have the freedom to communicate in a safe place. Take time to express your words often but do it in love. Have the other person’s best interest in mind as you share what is hurtful or bothering you. Be open, but also listen. Then together find a solution in each conflict by which you both can agree. Proverbs 27:17 reads, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (NIV)

Learn to love sex and practice often.  This one quite possibly saved my marriage but for sure added the spice in the daily routine.  A sexless marriage is hard, for you and him. However, sex can be magical when you do it God’s way. My experience is to listen to the creator of marriage. Cleave, leave and become one. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 (NIV)

I want to give you hope today for a great marriage. Honestly, we really can live “happily ever after.” It just looks a little different than Hollywood portrays. Trust me, marriage is hard, but anything worth having is hard. God’s way is the best way.

Happy Marriage my Friends!

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