2017 is our 25th Wedding Anniversary.
Not that it really matters to anyone, but this is our second marriage for both of us. This will also be, with God’s grace, our last marriage. It saddens me that we each had a prior marriage that did not work out. Two couples, four people, who had to experience the ultimate heartbreak of a divorce and all it entails. Even with the pain and sorrow of a failed marriage, I am grateful we went through it. Yes, I said grateful. The divorces we both experienced made us into the people we ultimately became when we met each other – and why we have been happily married for twenty-five years. I want to share a few reasons why I think our second marriage has lasted this long.
I don’t claim to have any great secrets when it comes to marriage.
I think first and foremost…marriage is not easy. I love that look of innocence and surety on the face of a newly married couple. On their wedding day, there is a knowledge that as a couple, they are right where they need to be and their love will see them through. And that is exactly how they should feel. If only that same surety could last when the money is tight; when work and careers gets in the way; when feelings of self-worth invade into esteem and jealousies rear its ugly heads; when babies take up more time than you ever imagined; when you feel like you have completely disavowed the very reasons you fell in love to begin with.
There are so many reasons why a marriage can fail. But that is not what I want to share today. Instead, I want to focus on why a marriage has lasted. Why a marriage has succeeded. My marriage.
As I have gotten older, I don’t look back at my first marriage as a total failure. For one, we managed to remain friends for the sake of our child. My ex and I never allowed our own failures to reflect upon our son. Nothing makes me any sadder than to see a divorced couple using their children as weapons against each other.
My first marriage also gave me my son. My only child. A blessing that can never be replaced. In some ways, it allowed me to test the waters of being an adult and learning to be a wife and mother. I married young – only 18 years old. By 19 I had a new baby and a business I ran full-time. I don’t regret a single day. Because as strange as this may sound, the breakdown of my first marriage allowed me to become the woman and the wife I needed to be for my second marriage.
Here are the the reasons I feel that has created a thriving, love-filled marriage.
1.) The obvious…I was older and more mature when I was married the second time.
Being married young is not always a recipe for failure. My parents were 17 and 19 when they were married and when my sweet Daddy passed away last May, they had been married 64 years. But, being young and immature were definitely obstacles for a newly married couple just starting out. Marriage is not the ideal place for “on the job training.” Neither of us knew who we were or what we wanted. With my second marriage, we were both professionally established, and had a better idea of who we were as individuals.
2.) We allow God into our marriage.
This is where some of you may take offense, and for that I do not apologize. But, I became a Godly wife. I honored and obeyed as our vows declared and we recited at our wedding. And my husband has honored me, as well.
It isn’t just about “honoring and obeying.” It’s also about believing and understanding that God has blessed us with a second chance at love, and we owe it to our Lord and to each other to remember that blessing, even when we are angry at each other. I was also confident enough in myself and my relationship with God that I wanted to serve my husband as my own mother had served my Father. Some would say it’s old-fashioned and I am sure feminist would cringe at reading this. But, I have never been made to feel less of a woman because I choose to be a wife who places my husband on a pedestal. In the end, what others don’t always readily see, he has grabbed me by the hand and placed me next to him on that same pedestal.
3.) We respect each other.
Respect. In my heart, I believe it is something not given freely, but often earned. I believe that, not only have we respected each other for who we are as individuals, but through the years we also respected each other for who we wanted to be and what we wanted to do. We may not have always agreed along the way. In no way do I want to paint a picture that the last twenty-five years of our marriage has been easy. I would be lying to you. In fact, about 10 years ago there was a dark time in our marriage where I wasn’t sure we would even last.
But, we went back to our original vows, and reminded each other that marriage wasn’t easy. God didn’t intend it to be that way.
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! — Psalm 126:5
4.) I am more comfortable in my skin.
For me personally, I know with maturity there became a sense of self worth. As a young married wife, I was self conscience of everything. Lots of emotional outbursts of jealousy and malcontent with my own significance seeped into my conscience of importance – making me feel less of a woman, less of a person. Less of a wife.
Age has not completely given me a high esteem. I still wish I was less this and more of that. But, I no longer care as much. I care more about being healthy and looking good for myself. I care more about how others respect me as a person versus how people respect me for an image. I was able to learn to love myself and stop being so unjustifiably dissonant against myself. The ole’ saying about “loving yourself before you can love someone” rings true in so many ways. A heart weighed down with negativism has no room to be filled with love.
5) We have allowed each other space.
My husband loves to golf. I don’t. I love to garden. My husband – not so much. But, neither of us has ever made each other’s passions an issue. (Well, except when I need help toting dozens and dozens of trays of plants to the garden. Ha! ) Neither of us would ever ask each other to give up our passions. I am not jealous of his time with his golfing buddies. In fact, it’s healthy to cultivate outside “positive influence” friends. And though I may not enjoy golf (I have tried, I really have!) I still remain interested and want to hear about his games, or go shopping with him for a new club. And often, my husband comes out into the garden with me and even lends a hand, as needed. He is always the first to encourage me to try something new. So, while it’s very important to be a true couple in every sense, allowing each other space to be an individual is extremely important, as well.
6.) We Have Developed Interests We Loved Together.
While it’s important to allow each other to maintain our self identity, we also knew it was equally imperative that we develop and build upon our interests as a couple. Traveling, for example. We both have a passion for travel and we are at our happiest when we are away on a trip. British history and England. I knew Bill was the man for me when I discovered he had majored in British History. There are lots more interests we share, and it’s these shared passions we have developed, over the last twenty-five years, to create a lasting love for each other and build upon a solid marriage.
7.) We talk.
Seems simple enough doesn’t it? We talk. Sometimes for hours at a time. We talk about anything and everything. Sometimes – we argue. C’mon, who doesn’t? But, instead of shutting down and stomping off to another room as we would have done when we were younger, we talk. We allow each other the chance to voice their respective feelings. We allow each other to have a say, and get down to the reason where the argument evolved from. Some of my favorite times with Bill are late in the afternoon, when we are having a drink out on the back deck, or enjoying our morning coffee on the front porch. No TV, no phones. Just us. Talking. We don’t solve any world problems. We just enjoy a few moments where we are alone and can just enjoy…being.
8.) We remain quiet.
For every moment in our marriage where we talk, there were times we also remain quiet. As someone who deals with control issues, this has not always been easy for me. I thought, at times, it was my duty as a wife to make my opinions known. But, I was wrong. I learned this through my much more quiet husband. I learned that my opinion wasn’t always what was needed. Sometimes, my silent and sheer support was the answer. I also learned that by me remaining quiet on some issues, I was in fact offering my agreement. Bill also learned there were times no words were needed. Such as when my Daddy died and no words could console me. But my husband’s presence and love and embrace got me through those rough days. He remained quiet, but supportive and consoling.
9.) We are best friends.
Cliche you say? Every married couple is best friends? You would be surprised. My husband knows things about me I would never share with anyone else, nor would I want to. And vice versa. He is the one I want to share any good news with. He is the one I want to be with when I hear bad news. I am the one he calls to check on when he’s been away for a few hours. He is the one who cleans up my messy kitchen after I have cooked dinner. We are best friends. I have family and friends and acquaintances – but, I only have one true best friend. My husband.
10) We acknowledge our “wrongs” and compliment our “rights.”
Part of any marriage is to be able to forgive the wrongs. But, on the other hand, a solid marriage should have a foundation of encouragement and praise and be able to acknowledge the “rights.” I don’t think a couple should dwell on each other’s negatives unless they are detrimental to each other or the marriage and need to be addressed. An injured marriage will use these negatives against each other in an effort to make one feel better about their own misgivings. Bill and I have tried, over the years, to instead acknowledge our rights. I think we learned this from our parents who enjoyed long, happy marriages. What is the biggest “right” for which we remind ourselves on a daily basis? That we chose each other. That we made the right decision to go out on a second date, and a third and a fourth and so on. That we respected each other enough to develop a new relationship into an eventual marriage, even after we had both experienced a failed first. That we made the right decision to love each other when our marriage was at its weakest. That we were able to see that we were right for each other in every way.
I think every happily married couple has their own list of things which make their marriage work. I wish my “Married 25 years” self could sit down with my “Just married” self. (I doubt the “Just married” self would even listen, though. LOL ) But, if she would listen, I would tell her… don’t ever, ever lose track of who you are as a person, but love your partner enough to give enough of yourself that you can become one. Above all else, choose to be happy.
Thank you for letting me share these thoughts with you, and for spending a few minutes of
your day here with me. xxoo, Barb
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