Today is my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Fifty years. How does one couple survive the ups and downs that life hurls at them for that long? Considering the fact that I’ve been along for their ride for 44 years and have been married for almost 16 years myself, I finally feel confident enough to share marriage wisdom.
1. Take Care of Your Marriage
The marriage is not you. The marriage is not your spouse. Your union is its own separate entity and takes on a life of its own—it needs to be nurtured as such. When you are exhausted and your spouse is grumpy and all either of you want to do is sleep for three days, your marriage needs you to communicate, reconnect, and put kids and responsibilities aside. You need a date night. Pay a baby sitter. Do what you have to do to put your marriage first.
I spent many weekends with grandparents while my parents went out. I loved those times, and I hope my grandparents did, too. My own kids spend some weekends with my mother and father. Now, they are busy making memories like I did. If grandparents aren’t available to watch your kids, then find a baby-sitter. You’ve just got to get away from all that responsibility even if it’s just to go parking in a nearby field. It helps if it’s your field—police handcuffs for trespassing on your anniversary aren’t the type of jewelry anyone wants to get.
2. Keep It Positive
You and your spouse are imperfect beings. There’s no getting around it. Keep those imperfections within your own four walls. I never once heard my parents criticize each other to friends or family. Ever. Mr. Jenn and I stick to the same rules. Unless it concerns my snoring—that, apparently, is fair game.
3. It Ain’t 50/50
Do your part, and value your spouse’s contribution. Sometimes marriage is 75/25. Sometimes it’s 100/0. Rarely is it 50/50. Counting the cost for what each partner does in the relationship causes fights. Do you struggle to keep up with the house and your own job while your spouse is working long hours? Are you drowning under responsibility while your spouse is fighting an illness?
Marriage, like everything else on earth, has seasons. Sometimes the weather is calm and beautiful. Sometimes it just plain sucks. You may very well be flailing. Before you attack the marriage, though, can you suggest a compromise? Is there really anything that can be done to fix this problem or is it a season of instability that you’re both going to have to just wait out? Sometimes a date night helps. Other times a weekend with friends will ease the stress. In other instances, that only thing that will work is a whole sleeve of Golden Oreos and wine.
4. Keep It Together
There are going to be times in your marriage that one or both of you will want to run for the hills. This is the time to dig in deep. Keep holding on to each other, even when you want to cut the ties. Not all marriages will work—about half do not. I strongly believe that every marriage will be faced with storms, whether it’s conflict from outside the family, money struggles, illness, or a pile-on of every day irritations that just won’t end.
I’m not referring to instances of violence and abuse here. I’m also not talking about infidelity. Hitting and cheating are way past my own personal line in the sand. I’m referring to those other weighty issues that slap you right across your face when you least expect them. My parents had their own issues to work through. My husband and I find that most of our struggles are attacks from outside our marriage. Either way, you have to be vigilant. Look out for those insidious cracks that come between you and threaten to bust the foundation of your relationship apart. Making time to reconnect daily puts concrete back into those cracks and shores your bind back up.
Be proud of your time together. Whether you’ve been together for one year or fifty, you’re bound to have overcome challenges. My parents have had years of joy in their lives, but they’ve also battled growing pains and serious health scares. My husband and I have been down a similar road. We’re all still standing. Our marriages are strong. I can only hope that I have a 50 year legacy to pass on to my kids and grandkids. So, thanks, Mom and Dad, for hanging in there through the fun times, the growing times, and the terrifying times. You’ve given all of us a huge gift to pay forward.
This post is linked up to http://mom-gene.com/2017/03/26/embracing-the-spotlight-sunday-thoughts-link-up-15/
This collection of writing really inspired me this Sunday! Go check them out!