Because I think we should always be learning from those who are farther along on the journey, I asked my parents if I could interview them today. They were happy to oblige.
You’ve been married 53 years. If you have to pass along 3 strategies that you believe have made a difference in the longevity of your marriage, what would they be?
MOM: Prayer, respect and enjoying one another’s company.
DAD: Willingness to forgive, constant sharing of care of family, home and church responsibilities, sexual compatability. (Jill’s note: That’s four Dad…you just had to get sex in there, didn’t you?
When we were little, what did you do to stay connected in your marriage?
MOM: We had babysitters so we could get an evening out occasionally. I would try to accompany your Dad to overnight conferences. It was very romantic to be alone in a hotel room with my husband without children.
DAD: We learned to lock the bedroom doors when necessary. We learned to accept our differences. For example, Mom is very verbal about what is going on while I am more closed-mouth about issues and events.
How has God used marriage to mature you personally?
MOM: God has been important to our marriage since we met. We met counseling at church camp and we were both very active in our home churches and older youth programs. We have both encouraged one another in what ever the other was doing, whether it be work or church work. Knowing God is with me in what ever I do has been most important to me in our relationship. We have had our bumps in the road as all marriages do, but we have learned how to forgive and forget. We learned that through God’s loving us.
DAD: As I have grown older in years, I have had to realize that sex is much less important and companionship much more important in marriage. I think God knew that all along, but I didn’t. We haven’t had 53 years of absolute bliss all the time; we have had 53 years of joy much of the time, times of ecstasy at other times, moments of intense grief, and a big change from parenting to the pleasures of grandparenting and great-grandparenting.
Any other thoughts or wisdom to pass along? MOM: Stay connected through your child rearing years. Many people put children and work above their spouse. When you have an empty nest you wonder who this stranger is you married. When you stay connected you look forward to that empty nest and enjoy life together.
What about you? Do you need to put your marriage before your kids? Accept your spouse’s differences? Get a babysitter more often? Today’s a great day to stop making excuses and start making plans for investing in your marriage!