Last week my neighbor mentioned my marriage of thirty four years and told me that I had been very lucky. She said that we were always happy and wondered why other people could not live like this. To her it was some Cinderella story that everybody should have. I thought about it for a while but then realized that I could not leave her with the impression that all marriages or relationships should or could be lived out as if they were movie scrip's without an effort.
A few weeks later when she again mentioned it, I told her that contrary to what she saw we were not by nature happy people. I explained that we worked very hard at being positive and also worked very hard at making the marriage work. She seemed to think that there was some special formula or chemical that bought about love. When I explained that there was no formula but just plain hard work if you really wanted your marriage to work she looked sad. She expected me to talk about the great love and passions which cupid had shot into our lives, instead I told her of the many ups and downs our marriage had gone through.
The work came in celebrating my wife's life every day, not just when I felt like it. I had heard Dr. Myles Monroe speaking on friendship and saying that if your friends merely tolerated you and were not celebrating you they were not really your friends. This statement made such an impact on me that I made it the motto for my life, but if it worked with friends why could it not work for a marriage. So I started to celebrate my wife's life and accomplishments and she in turn started to celebrate mine. This does not come automatically it takes time and effort. I once put a blue hat by our kitchen door to remind me each morning that she was not my personal servant and that I was not to abuse her because I was in a bad mood. I also wrote notes throughout our house which I pasted on the shelves and cabinets saying things like "don't be grumpy or cranky it's not her fault, she is doing her best."
For the sake of the person who is with you, you have to put in a full day's work which will not seem like work if you truly love them. This with time becomes very pleasurable and brings with it a sweet peace and a happy home. The love comes from your unselfish motive and wiliness to put your own life on hold and listen to someone else. I made it a habit to think of the many ways in which she had always made me happy and had put up with all my strange quirks. I got to thinking of why a man and a woman would stay together, and the fact that the man does not have to stay there at all, and neither does the woman. They are not born with us and are not our slaves to do with as we please. A marriage is a team effort and if one of the players refuses to play, then in time the game will be lost and the marriage will become a tragedy for one or both partners. Because we are selfish by nature and always want our own way, it takes a huge effort to share and be considerate of others but especially the one who knows us the best or should, our spouse.
When I retired I stayed home for three years and became the house husband, cooking and cleaning the house, doing the grocery shopping and washing the clothes. Since we had no children in the house I thought it would be a breeze but boy was I wrong. It seemed as if the minute I finished one chore another popped up and the routine started all over. There was always something to do; by the time my wife got home I was exhausted and wondered how she had managed all these years. I quickly learned to value a woman's place in the home. If she were working by the hour I could not afford her.
One of the most important aspects of our marriage is our friendship and the respect we have for one another. This is something which I have seen most marriages lack. If you are not friends with your partner you have missed out on a special bonding which brings with it a great tenderness and appreciation for one another. In the Christian community there is another reason for the man or the woman to love and value their marriage partner. That other person is a child of God, she is your sister or he is your brother besides being your wife or husband. The other person is valued just as much as you in the Fathers eyes. Jesus died for that person that you might feel is not worthy of you or you have called stupid or been unfaithful to. That life that is next to you is just as precious to God as your life, so precious that the bible teaches that your prayers might not be answered because of your bickering. 1 Peter 3:7
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