Recently I had the opportunity to sit at a table with three couples at the Flower Mound Seniors in Motion group. Each of the couples had been married for at least fifty years. Such a wealth of earned wisdom prompted me to ask each person, “What is the secret?” Here is what I learned.
1. Give and Take: Each spouse cannot insist on their own way they have to learn how to compromise and work together.
2. Work together on decisions: Major decisions from finances to child rearing require the couple to reach conclusions together. Unilateral decision making does not work over the long haul.
3. Do not try to change the person’s base personality and do not allow your base personality to be changed: Accepting your spouse for who God made them to be is critical. Sometimes, spouses will try to fix their spouse and when their project is done, they do not like what they have created. If you do not like who the person is, do not marry them.
4. Once I accepted myself, life became much more enjoyable: As human beings if we are not comfortable in our own skin, we cannot expect anyone else to love and appreciate us. Marriage does not make us acceptable. It is not our job to run around pleasing our parents, spouses, co-workers, and children.
5. Do not argue in front of the children: None of the couples said don’t fight, rather they believe that you should fight fair and one way to do that is to refrain from drawing the kids into the conflict by fighting in front of them.
6. Mutually support each other: Each spouse had their own dreams and desires and throughout the difficulties and challenges, they mutually supported each other in pursuit of those dreams.
7. I am not your parent: A problem arises in marriage when a spouse has unresolved issues/feelings toward their opposite sex parent. Often, the person will project their feelings about their parent onto the spouse and seek to have the spouse behave like their mother or father.
8. Grow-up together: While it is not beneficial to try to change the spouse’s base personality, life dictates that we mature. Marriage stages require an ever-expanding repertoire of responses- that can only be gained by growing up. Couples need to do this together.
9. Honor and work on the commitment you made long ago: Life is difficult and marriage is hard work. Honor the commitment you made to your spouse.
10. Do not let the kids run the house: I think this one is self-explanatory, however, children running the home is a big issue in southern Denton County. Every home requires order and leadership, two attributes a child cannot provide. Be the adults and lead the home.
11. Have faith in each other: An enduring marriage requires that the spouses intrinsically believe that the other always has their best interest in mind. Trust is the key.
12. Learn when to speak and when to be silent. Communication is not just talking. Knowing when to share one’s opinion applies to arguing, the in-laws, the finances, and everything else.
I would only add one thought to the collective wisdom of one-hundred-and-fifty years of marriage: Lean on God.
Without the power of God working in the marriage, all of our efforts come to naught. I pray that the wisdom shared by these three couples will bless your marriage.
The Pastor’s Place is published in The Cross Timbers Gazette and features articles written by a different area church leader each month. Call 940-728-8284 for more information.