Recently, David and I were invited to Federal Grove Bed and Breakfast in Auburn, Ky. to celebrate the 35th wedding anniversary of our dear friends, Susan and Wesley Walker. Federal Grove is a beautiful 18th century estate that got it's start from a Revolutionay War land grant of 10,000 acres to Jonathan Clark, the older brother of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. And today, it is a piece of Kentucky history that must be experienced to be enjoyed.
On our 30th wedding anniversary, our sons and their wives surprised David and me with an overnight stay at Federal Grove, and it was so good to be back in that beautiful countryside. I know I am very prejudice, but let me tell you....there is no place like Kentucky in June.
After a delicious dinner, we were served an amazing, "made from scratch" carrot cake that Brittany, Susan and Wesley's daughter-in-law had made especially for the occassion. As we enjoyed our dessert, their children, Alan and Annie, each spoke of their love and gratitude to their parents for providing a loving, secure, Christian home for them while they were growing up. After dinner, we sat outside on the patio and enjoyed the "company and conversation". As we were making our way to our cars I said to Annie, "Not everybody has this." And ladies, "not everybody has this" because we are too quick to give up on our husband, give up on our marriage, and just give up in general. When we focus on his faults, (and there will be many, but we have them, too) and we allow ourselves to become distracted from the committment we made on our wedding day, we can easily begin to think that things would be better with someone else. But statistics say that usually isn't the case.
Girls...this is from someone who knows; (not bragging, just saying it like it is) you won't know the blessings of the 40 something years, unless you get thru all the years ahead of them. You won't know the blessings of an unbroken family circle around a dinner table full of adult children and (best of all) their children, unless you dig in your heels and make that lifelong committment to just seeing it thru.
Now before I go any further, let me make it clear; DO NOT stay in an unsafe environment of abuse, and please DO NOT keep your children there. Take whatever steps you need to take, but get help and get safe.
This post today is for those of you in your first 20 years of marriage. Sounds like we ought to have it all figured out by then, but we sure didn't, and statistics say that divorce in couples who have been married 20 or more years is up dramatically, even among Christians.
So what can you do now, in the early years of marriage to ensure that your marriage doesn't become another divorce statistic?
1. Let some stuff "slide". Not every issue is worth fighting about. Close your eyes, turn the volume button down on your ears, but don't let every issue become a face off of who's right and who's wrong. Most marriages aren't destroyed, they are "eroded". Erosion is a slow process, it doesn't happen overnight, and marriages don't break up overnight either. It is usually the accumulation of the daily trials of life that build and build, and if left unattended, just like a barren land that is left unattended, it will erode to the point of needing more than an "I'm sorry."
2. Remember what you promised. Marriage is a covenant agreement between you, God, and your husband.
When you signed your name on the "dotted line" of your marriage license you promised your life away; literally. When he "tunes you out" or "turns a deaf ear", remember the part that says, "for worse"? And when money is tight, the kids need shoes, and the cupboards are getting bare, remember the "poorer" line in that covenant? And I won't even go there on the "sickness and in health" part. My definition of sick is one thing and David's is, well, something not quite as serious as mine!! (sorry honey, I did let him read this, by the way.)
3. Develop the art of just "plain ole talking it out". It will take a while, but without good communication, even the deepest love cannot survive. Make time for just the two of you to get away for a night every now and then. It's amazing what a quiet dinner at your favorite restaurant, or an overnight away from the kids will do for your communication skills. Come on, can you really have a deep conversation with a whiny 2 yr old holding onto your leg or your 6 yr old literally starving to death right before your eyes? It may be something you have to save up for, but it will be worth it. There are many, many times when communication trumps love!
4. Respect. Even on those days when everything he does "irks" us to no end, showing him the respect God says he is due simply because he is your husband (Eph. 5:33) goes a long way in keeping the issues in perspective and can even help the "irks"!
I know this isn't a complete list, but these 4 things will take any marriage a "fur piece down the road". And when you add lots and lots of love and forgiveness to letting some petty stuff slide, remembering your promises, developing great communication, and giving him respect, even when you don't want to, but you do it as a simple act of obedience to God, one day you, too, can say, "Thank You, Lord that we stuck it out."
Forgive me if I sounded too "preachy", it's just that I feel so passionate about strong marriages and strong families. And in this day when more and more couples are opting to live together, or separate over petty issues that don't amount to a "hill of beans" as my Mama used to say, Christian couples and families have the divine opportunity to raise the standard, set a good example, and leave a lasting legacy to their children and grandchildren.
I'd love to hear from you; let me know if you'd like to add anything to the list. Here are 2 scriptures that will keep you working on your marriage for better or worse, richer or poorer, or in sickeness and health;
Colossians 3:23, 24
Have a great day, tell your husband you love him today and then spend some quiet time praying for him and thinking about what a great guy he really is!!
Here we are after all that delicious food and dessert!!