Tomorrow my husband and I will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary. 35 YEARS! I feel incredibly blessed that God has given me such a wonderful husband. He has been supportive of me, and loved me through many ups and downs, as we have raised our 8 children.
Sometimes people will comment on how unusual it is for a couple to stay together for so long. Other times they ask, “How do you do it? How do you make it work?” I don’t have any fancy formula to give, no secrets, but rather a couple of words that sum it up.
We made a promise before God committing to each other for life, through good times and bad. Regardless of our feelings at the time, or how things may be going, we have never wavered on that.
We need to on purpose, intentionally CHOOSE to focus on the good. If we don’t, we face the danger of letting little petty irritations creep in and grow. Negative thoughts then consume our thinking and focus, allowing bitterness or indifference to hurt the relationship.
Sometimes those negative thoughts come because we have expectations of our spouse. Perhaps we look at what other husbands do for their wives, or what they do with the kids, etc. Those expectations can be SO dangerous for two reasons. One, they set us up for disappointment. (Blessed is she who expects nothing, for she shall not be disappointed!) The other danger is that they often cause us to lose sight of the many things our spouse DOES do for us – things we often take for granted. (Yes, I know this from personal experience!)
Recently I caught myself grumbling under my breath about my husband, and the expectation that hadn’t been met as I thought it would or should be. God gently spoke to my heart about all I had to be thankful for in our marriage and our relationship. I immediately realized that I could focus on the little things that irked me, and disappointments I’d brought on myself from my expectations, OR I could choose to focus on all the GOOD things. I could focus on all the things I admire in him, all the things he DOES for me that I can and should be thankful for. It’s a CHOICE. It’s not a one time choice either, but one you need to make every time you feel those negative thoughts starting. I actually wrote myself a list as a reminder:
THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR IN MY HUSBAND:
1. He loves God with all his heart, and lives to please Him.
He demonstrates this by his faithfulness to church, and by serving God in various ways.
2. His faithfulness to God’s Word.
He not only reads it, but he believes it, and has always tried to apply the principles he learns from it to everyday situations.
3. His faithfulness to ME!
Sometimes I am just amazed that he loves me, because at times, I don’t even love me! Thirty-five years ago he made a commitment to God and me, and has remained faithful to that commitment to love and cherish me, through the good and the bad. He has never given me reason to doubt his faithfulness, and has been and still is very careful to guard his heart and mind.
4. His strong work ethic, and hard work.
My husband works hard. He is a truck driver, and does a lot of heavy unloading every day. Often he has 10 hour days, or longer. He has probably only called in to work ONCE due to sickness, in all the years we’ve been married. He goes in whether he feels good or not. He works hard, comes home tired, but NEVER complains about working to provide for us. My adult kids have a great work ethic, thanks to his example over the years!
5. His willingness to help me, even when he’s had a long hard day. When the kids were younger, he found ways to help whenever he could. For example, he would:
- Give the kids their baths, and get them ready for bed.
- Take the kids to the park, when I needed some rest, or quiet time.
- He loves history, and taught all the kids history for me one year.
- After our first baby was born, he took over the grocery shopping for me. Every week, for years, he bought all the groceries. When the kids all got a bit older, he would stay home with them, and I’d go buy the groceries. (Yes, going to the grocery store was like a vacation!)
- He often cooked, cleaned, and helped with laundry. (still does!)
Those are just a FEW of the many things I have to be thankful for. Your list will probably look different than mine. However, I want to encourage you and challenge you to make a list! Refer to it often, and use it to CHOOSE the thoughts that nurture your marriage.
I am truly blessed to be married to a wonderful man, and I thank God for the past 35 years we have had together!