(photo credit goes to my Prince Charming)
This week my prince charming and I are entering year 25 of our marriage. I always tell people that being married to my husband is an adventure. Not that it is always easy and fun but it is an adventure. This year we celebrated by going for Sunday lunch at a resort near where we live. Of course, we were going for the seafood buffet that we were told the resort had. After some confusion and talking with the staff, we did end up with a delicious barbeque fish meal just not a seafood buffet. It was a treat to dress up and eat at a nice restaurant. The food was delicious and perfect for an anniversary celebration. Later that evening a friend brought over dinosaur cupcakes left over from a birthday party to put a sweet end to our day.
Year 24 was a good year marriage wise. The rest of our lives seemed to be a roller coaster so it was a blessing to have someone holding my hand as we went on this ride together.
Last August we became empty nesters leaving one child at college and the other at boarding school. It was strange going back to Central Asia without them but we were doing it together as a team. Then we moved twice. One move was to a different city in Central Asia, and the other move was to West Africa a little over a month ago. But it was an adventure, and we were in it together. Yes, there were tears as we felt loss but also joy as we went on long walks, read books together and learned how to cook together. We waited together for permissions that never came. We prayed and talked as we figured out that it was time to leave Central Asia and go someplace else. Together is such a beautiful word.
As I look back on the past year, I have been thinking what made this year a good year for our marriage. There are past years that if we had encountered the roller coaster that we did this year, we would have been at each other’s throats. What made the difference? Here are four things that stood out.
1. We were intentional in spending time together.
Before the kids left, we would always have a date night on the night they had youth group. We would keep things simple such as spending time talking or listening to music or even watching a movie or TV show together. On occasion, we went out to eat but that was rare. This past year, we took at least one long walk on the weekends through the hills and by the creeks of where we lived. The walk helped us refocus but also gave us time to reflect on the week as well as reconnect.
It also included being intentional to take time to talk every day. It is so easy to live with someone but not connect with them. It shouldn’t be but it is. Taking time to talk about life and experience it together was a lifeline for us. Communication takes work but hopefully we are getting better at it.
2. We were intentional in our relationship with God
In Exodus 33, Israel has sinned and by the grace of God and pleas of Moses, Israel is spared from destruction. Now God and Moses are discussing what comes next. Moses says “If Your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” I have found I don’t want to be anywhere if God is not there with me. He is my rock and lifeline. It sounds like a Sunday school answer but it is true.
Both my husband and I know the truth of this, and so we were intentional in our personal time with God but also in getting together with others for bible study. A new thing for us this year was reading books together. These books often encouraged us in our walk with God. Together we sought God’s guidance on our next steps after Central Asia and thankfully God was leading us both in the same direction.
3. People were praying for us
When we went back to the states in the spring, we were so blessed by all of the people who told us they had been praying for us. It humbles me and reminds me that I also need to be praying for those around me-for their families, their marriages, and their work. I am also blessed to have dear friends who pray for me and hold me accountable.
4. We were intentional about serving each other.
When I focus on me and what I am getting out of something, that is when things start to go downhill. When I focus on others and how I can serve them, I see things differently. I find joy. In marriage, when we serve each other, love grows. Each marriage is different but for us here are a few things that make us feel loved. For my husband: Cooking his favorite foods, a foot rub after a long day, or having clean clothes. For me, breakfast on the weekend, coming home to a clean kitchen, or a dark chocolate bar.
Our marriage is not perfect but God is good. I pray that this year, we can continue to do these things and that whatever comes our way, we can go through it together. What are some things or habits that have helped your marriage? What makes you or your husband feel loved?