Thursday, December 29, 2016


Mario and I - the night before we married

Mario and I have been married Twenty-nine years today.  I thank God for Mario and I am sure that he thanks God for me, but we would both agree that marriage has not always been easy.  After twenty-nine years we have a relationship that is beautiful.  It is a relationship that has benefited from our years of hard work.  For years we both practiced sowing the seeds of love.  Our early marriage counselors promised us that sowing good seeds would bear good fruit.  They were right.

After you have been married for as long as we have, people ask you for advice.  We usually don’t give any – mainly because what these couples are really asking for is hope.  They want us to tell them that there is hope for their relationship, no matter how badly it has deteriorated.  All couples do – they want a good relationship.

Once a year I break out our best advice – and here it is.  Read on if you want to…this is the super-abridged edition of what we would tell couples if we really did give out advice.  

1.  Don’t expect your marriage to be like your wedding.

Please don’t take this the wrong way.  

I just mean that your marriage is not going to be like your wedding where everything is all about you!  Weddings used to be a church, a smattering of family, and the bride and groom dressed up in their “Sunday best”.  Now weddings are five-star affairs with big, fat dresses and tuxedos and tall cakes.  Grooms and their groomsmen dance in synchronized fashion.  Envelopes of money are given in celebration. 

Marriage is a MERGER, a legal contract, and a covenant that cannot be broken.   God help you if you think that marriage is one big party.  It is work! Often it is boring, tedious, and routine.  Only the best couples have the endurance to bring life into this arrangement!

2. DEPOSIT into your spouse’s heart.

Love is one of the key ingredients in successful marriages, but romantic love is not enough.  People who master marriage realize that the spouse has a “heart account” that must be filled.  Most people know how to make love withdrawals – but forget to make the love deposits.

Kind words, gifts, laughter, memories and special traditions that you celebrate together are all examples of deposits.  Figure out what your spouse likes and do that thing a lot.  

Let it be your idea. 

3.  Ditch your addictions.

Love is a seedling in an antagonistic world that is built for individuals.  Individuals have addictions. 

Alcohol, drugs and gambling are not the only addictions that kill relationships (although they certainly do a LOT of damage to plenty of marriages). Socially acceptable addictions like food, television, phone games, and work take their toll on more families than you would think.  

After years in full-time ministry we have heard too many partners confide that their significant other no longer values them as much as their ____________.  Fill in the blank with your addiction – that kind of behavior kills.

4. Relationships are worth protecting.   

In an effort to be polite or socially acceptable you may forget that the main relationship you are in requires a genuine wall of defense.  People may try to kidnap one of you for fun and games at the cost of the other’s happiness.  Others may be friends with your spouse but not care for you.  These people have a habit of asking if “just one of you” can work or play side-by-side with them.  There might be times when friends encourage gossiping about your spouse. 

Even well-meaning friends and family can make these mistakes.  We have had many of these in our marriage, but have always managed to remember that our partnership takes priority.  We are not joined at the hip, but we do value togetherness.  Most successful couples are genuinely friends who like to be with one another.  Mario and I keep our spiritual eyes open for the other’s welfare --protecting one another means protecting our relationship. 

5.  Laugh together. 

Couples who laugh together are more likely to enjoy each other's company.  Laughter also releases endorphin - the same hormone that is released during sex.  Take time out of each day to laugh - or to crack each other up.

Last night we played a board game --one that made us guffaw with laughter (Game of Things).  I watched Mario laughing and I was instantly grateful for him being joyful.

6.   Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

I didn’t author this – God did.  Learn how to listen (without your answer playing in your head).  Listen like it’s the first time you’ve ever heard what he/she is saying.  Listen more than you talk and get a reputation as a listener.  If you listen, you open one another’s hearts.  Each time you listen to your spouse you say “You are worth something to me.  What you have to say matters.” 

You may not agree with each other, but at least you have listened.

7. Use your manners.

This is your spouse, not your property.  Say thank you for everything they do for you.  Say please when you ask them to do something.  Hopefully your parents raised you with manners.  Exercise them!!

There are people who use manners even when they are stressed or tired -- I love being around these people!!   

Be blessed and live in love.  We wish you the best in everything. 

Mario and I tonight - after we got home from Dave Smith's Memorial

There are proven studies that show what kinds of couples survive the long-haul of marriage.  Check this out to see one interesting factoid.