Thoughts on Married Life- 36 years today


36 years ago today, I wed the man I loved.  I can reflect on lessons learned, what works for us.    I realize some have troubled marriages, I pray for them.  These are reflections on what we’ve learned, what’s important to us, what has helped us persevere for 36 years.

I just watched a video from a liberal (but wonderful) friend who actually teaches flirting (she’s a hoot).    She talks about seduction, says every married couple should be seducing each other (and gives a few suggestions, detailed, but not TOO detailed).  Made my husband watch the video.  Also, she was at one of the conferences we were at and gave him an “assignment” to do with me (had to do with hugging or something).  He hasn’t done it (this was like last summer!).  Okay, so I’d like a hubby who is “seductive”.  Mine isn’t, in the unusual sense of the word.  So be it.  I accept that.  Which kind of brings me to my first point (these aren’t in any order of importance…)

My husband is who he is.  I accept that.   I didn’t always.  30 years ago if he had wanted to wear that silly yellow and black tie, I would have had a hissy fit.  (Side note… I had an on-line discussion with about 200 moms, posted a picture of John’s new tie.  It is a hideous yellow and black striped thing, looks like a road construction warning.  None of them thought it was good, a very few thought okay. It was from a thrift store, so he only paid a few bucks for it.)    Now, I let him clearly know I think it’s terrible, and makes HIM look stupid/foolish, but I can easily accept him even if he wears it.  I love HIM, occasional bad taste in ties and all.

My husband is NOT me, he’s his own person.  We complement each other.  Took me a long time to realize that what other people thought of HIM is what they think of HIM, not ME.  And if he wants to present that image, that’s up to him.  As his loving wife, I can make him aware of how he comes across sometimes, but he can act how he wants.  So I can say that if he wears that tie, most people will think he’s pretty dorky (this is something he does not, obviously, realize on his own).  Or when he talks a certain way, he offends a lot of people and they think he’s arrogant and uninformed (he can sometimes seem kind of boorish).  He, as a man in general, does not notice people’s reactions.  So I just help him be aware of how he looks to others, and ask him if that is that what he WANTS to look like, is that the image he wants to present?   Now, how he or I look to others is NOT important to either of us, EXCEPT in so much as it is our obligation to help others get to Heaven.  If by our dress, attitude, words, whatever, we come across certain ways, that will probably not be a good example to others.  Also, and this was a big thing for me, is to realize that if people think John is a fool or dork or anything else, that is what they think about HIM, NOT me.  When they see him with that tie, they judge HIM, not me.  Except perhaps they might think I married a real loser for marrying him (and I’m not, I’m one of the luckiest women out there).  It reflects about 99% on HIM, not me.  And if that’s what he wants (or doesn’t care), I don’t let it bother me.  Now this is not to say I’m not proud of him, I am.  And generally he respects my opinion and if I ask him not to wear that tie to our Valentine’s dance, he won’t.  He’ll dress up sharp and look like a million bucks.  But he WILL probably still wear the tie to Toastmasters (where he goes without me).

Took me a long time to realize my husband is NOT perfect.  I think he is wonderful in many ways (but like all of us, does have faults).  But he’s not perfect.  He will, sooner or later, in big and/or small ways, sometimes disappoint me or let me down (unintentionally).  That’s what really took me a long time, to realize that it’s okay for him to let me down sometimes.  More than the fact that he’s not perfect.    I need to forgive that (and I can).  I don’t like it (neither does he), but it’s going to happen.  Live with it, don’t hang on to those times.

Life will have ups and downs, good times and bad.  Enjoy them all.

Okay, just a bit here.  We learned NFP (Natural Family Planning) when we were engaged.  The only time we practiced it to avoid pregnancy was when we were working as missionaries in Venezuela for 2 ½ years.  My opinion (John would agree): it’s a whole lot more fun to forget charts, temps and all that and just let nature take its course! Laugh!  But it’s true!  (11 pregnancies later…..)

Communicate.  Talk.  Share.  If you have a man (like many) who aren’t used to that, teach him.  They can learn.  (Maybe slowly, and you need to repeat frequently, but they’ll get it.)

Give 100%.  Marriage is not 50/50.  It’s 100/100.

Pray.   Without God, you might as well hang it up.  If only one of you has faith, then you will have to make that enough to get you by (until he gets some as well..)  For us, with the many things we’ve lived through, without out God, we would have crumbled about 25 years ago.  HE will sustain you when you cannot….

John and I committed to each other on Sept. 24, 1976.  Committed.  No matter what.  So when the going gets tough, remember your commitment.  Life hasn’t always even a bed of roses for us, or between us, but we have remained committed to each other.  No matter what.  (I think it has been much worse for him than me.. I went through some years of …uh….. pretty intense PMS stuff… not a very loving wife or person for a while…)

Support one another. Particularly in the roles of husband and wife, man and woman.  Submission is another whole topic, but it IS a good thing, and works, and makes a marriage, and both partners stronger.

Your husband is more important than your kids.  For many years, and many times, the needs of your children may outweigh the needs of your husband,.  That is fine, meet the needs of your children.  But NOT at the expense of your marriage.    Meeting needs (or the level of needs) is not the same as importance.  Rosemary may have greater needs than my other children, that doesn’t mean she any more important than they are.  One of the very best things a child can have/get is parents with a solid marriage.

You cannot change your spouse.  I can encourage, and do lots of things to help.  But for him to change, he has to 1) see there is a problem, 2) admit he has control (some or all) over it, 3) WANT to change. (This is  a HUGE one, I think.  My husbnad needs to lose weight,. He knows it, he admits he has control, he doesn’t WANT to change that much.  He SAYS he does, but his actions do not bear that out.)  And if 1, 2 and 3 are met, it will probably still take a long time, with slips and back pedaling.

You CAN change you.  You can change your attitude, your thinking, all kinds of things.  I’m NOT suggesting anyone become a door mat or something God is not calling them to be.  Just to realize you control YOU control you- your actions, and can choose them, and change the way you act/think.  You can’t control/change your spouse.

LAUGH together!  FLIRT with each other!  Have FUN together.

Be not afraid.  Don’t be afraid of the hard things.  They WILL come.  Face them head on together.    Many of you have heard this story, but it illustrates my point.  I’m in a hospital bed in mayo clinic facing major surgery the next morning (unexpected).  I was scared.  John asked of what and why.  He proceeded to explain (correctly and it was just what I needed to hear) that the only thing to fear is dying and going to hell.  “You just had the Anointing of the Sick, so that’s not going to happen.  Anything else we can deal with.”  And he meant it.  Anything else (even my death or his) we/he/I can deal with.  Be not afraid (expect of dying and going to hell, and if you’re worried about that, do something NOW about it- get RIGHT with God.)  be not afraid.

Our priorities (and I’ll admit that there are times when both of us fail to live up to them) are: God, each other, family (kids), and then others.  Set your priorities (talk about them, discuss this) and keep them in front of you.  We help keep each other on the straight and narrow (or try).  Admittedly, often this is not “fun”.  If I remind John that he hasn’t exercised all week, he may not like that.  If he sees a candy wrapper in the car and says something to me, I may not like that.  We both know it’s for the other’s good, and we try to help each other in positive ways, but sometimes it’s not fun to give or get such “reminders”.  When I am ticked at my husband for something like that, I try to remember he’s doing it because he loves me and wants to help me get to Heaven.

One of the very best things we can do for each other is indirect compliments.  If I overhear John on the phone bragging about me to some customer or supplier, that makes my day.  And if I give this to him to read (I did) and he sees the part about where I say he’ll look like a million bucks, it will boost him (not that this particular man’s ego needs much boosting, but it is still very nice to hear).  Direct compliments are also very nice.

You don’t need to compare yourself to others.  John is not the type to write love letters to me.  That’s okay.  Getting a love letter would be wonderful.  But he can show his love in other ways (and does).  I’d like it if he were more romantic in certain ways.  (And me being a woman and him a … shall I say… typically dense?….. man I have explained EXACTLY what I mean by that.)  And if he can do that, or do it sometimes, fine.  If not, that’s okay.  Like I said, I can’t change him.

FIND THE POSITIVE.  Be encouraging.  Okay, I’ve got this husband with this ridiculous tie.  I can kid him about it, and so on.  And I have been.  BUT, the same qualities that “allow” him to be able to wear that thing in public are the same ones I admire I so many ways. They are the qualities that allow him to start evangelizing with a complete stranger about the faith.  So I can lament that he doesn’t care what people think about him, or I can rejoice that he doesn’t care.  On the one hand it means the tie, on the other it means saving souls.  Saving souls is more important.  That’s just an example of focusing on the positive.

Lately, I have been realizing how important a good marriage is to help your CHILDREN prepare for married life.  If they do not grow up with mom and dad happily married, it is so much harder for them to learn how to be a good spouse.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Married Life- 36 years today

  1. Congratulations! I’m sure the trials you have had, such as you the health problems, have helped solidify your relationship. You have your priorities in order. From that comes the basis for you to evangelize.

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