Janet and I have now been married for more than thirty years. We are very thankful to have made it this far and we are looking forward to many more years to come. We are very happy now, although sometimes we feel a little sadness to think of all the years we wasted and how close we came to missing out on the marriage we have today.
The fact of the matter is we should have had a happy marriage a long, long time ago. But we just kept getting it wrong and causing each other a lot of heartache and pain, which brings me to the idea I have been thinking about the last few days.
Sunday night in our marriage builders’ class we were in a group discussion when a young lady made the comment, “I want the kind of marriage you two have, I just don’t want to go through all the stuff you two did to get there.” We had been in the middle of a very intense conversation with the entire group and so my response to her was incomplete. I plan to follow-up on that comment this coming Sunday.
What I plan to tell the group and what I want to share here is you can have the marriage you have always wanted without going through a lot of bad stuff to get there. We have learned so many things through our struggles, but we also know that if we could have learned a few things from the beginning, we would not have went through some very bad stuff which nearly ended our marriage.
You see, we always had some of the things that most people want in a marriage. We had strong attraction for each other, we had love and affection for each other, we shared some common interest together, we were Christians and we prayed and read our bibles and went to church, we laugh together, we had a good sex life. Really, on so many levels we always had the same relationship we have today. The only difference was we used to have some very destructive behaviors and we had a huge lack of understanding what it takes to make a marriage work.
They say there are two ways to learn, either from experience (school of hard knocks) or from a mentor (a teacher). Basically you have to go through some experiences but you can also prevent some very bad experiences by learning from others. That is the reason we do what we do here on this blog, in our Marriage Builders’ class, and every other chance we get. So here are some things we could have done that would have prevented a lot of pain.
7 ways you can do better than we did
Complete submission to the Lord. ——– This is not about more religious activity. We had enough activity before and that didn’t work for us. What complete submission means, is giving the Lord your all, your emotions, your thoughts, and your will. This does not mean you lose your own individual identity. It simply means that you give up your old selfish nature. That place in you that tries to always get your own way and that always tries to be in control. You have to let go of that and trust that the Lord’s way in every situation is the best way.
Like yourself. ————- You need to accept who God created you to be. I’m not talking about conceit, I’m taking about contentment. If you don’t like who you are then you will constantly put too much pressure on your spouse for approval and affirmation. We all need approval and affirmation, but not when it is being poured into a bottom less cup. If you put this demand on your spouse you will never get enough and in turn you can turn that emptiness into feelings of rejection.
Educate. ————- The reason I list this as number three is because we have to get more understanding before we can improve on anything we do in our marriage. There is so much information available and so many different ways of getting it, blogs, books, audio teachings, classes, and marriage retreats, so no one has any excuse to not raise their level of understanding. If we had read books on marriage and subjects such as communication, understanding our differences, how to fight fair, and love languages, we would have done so many things better.
Communication. ————– Sharing your hearts on a deep level is vital to growing your marriage and becoming one. This requires more than conversations where you talk about your views on life. You have to be vulnerable and reveal your true feelings to each other. Communication is about sharing hearts and not just words. In doing so you can work out any differences you have and any misunderstandings that come along.
Fill each other’s love tank. ———— Everyone has a love tank, or a love account as another way of putting it. Either way you have to understand what it takes to fill each other’s love supply back up. We all have our own unique love language and you and your spouse have to know what speaks love to each other. And do those things regularly. Neglecting each other’s emotional needs was one of the major reasons our marriage kept getting into trouble.
Safe guard. —————– Protecting your marriage from the many things that can pull you apart is a must. There are rules and safe guards you should have in place to keep you out of harms way. Protect yourselves from other people getting in between you is one of the most important rules. This definitely includes the opposite sex, but it could also include parents or children.
Fight fair. ——————–Another rule to protect your marriage is how to agree to disagree or to fight fair. This does not mean you shouldn’t work at resolving any problem, it just means you expect to have problems from time to time and you have rules in place that will keep you from hurting each other. Such as not going to bed angry, not being unforgiving, not using the “I quit” words, and not using past mistakes as weapons against each other.
So there you have it. I’m sure there are a few more things I could say on this, but I think you get the idea. You don’t have to go through what we went through to have a great marriage. You Can Have a Great Marriage without All the Pain.