One of the best dates with my hubby was actually a dare.
We were DARED to go to Fashion Island, dress up like fools, sing to the crowd, and then ask some older married couples the secret to a long and satisfying marriage.
Dressing up was a kick, singing (or maybe screeching) at the top of our lungs as rich people averted their eyes and a dog in a stroller howled at us was a wee bit more difficult(and humbling), but approaching the couples for advice was downright fun and eye-opening.
Why, oh why, don’t I listen more to the wisdom of people who fought the good fight (relationally) and won?
Hollywood’s advice stinks, celebrities ditch relationships on a whim, and Disney and Playboy aren’t making it any easier on us either.
Want to know what these awesome couples said?
Here are the tips we learned from couples married 45+ years who still hold each other’s hand and are madly in love…
After the first older gent we confronted at Nordstrom’s (who didn’t run away) stopped laughing at our outfits, he was glad to share from his heart.
He said the single most important thing in his marriage was to shut up and listen more.
Listening to your spouse, instead of always trying to prove your point, brings nothing but the best to your life together. When you listen, you’ll discover insight on how you can love the other person more deeply. You’ll see a picture of their heart—their hopes and dreams, hurts and fears. You’ll piece together why your spouse operates the way they do. You’ll discover belief systems and thoughts that affect your relationship. If you think you ALREADY know everything about them, you’ve already stopped listening.
Both you and your spouse will continue to change, mature, grow and learn until the day you are called into eternity. Don’t stop learning about the priceless creation God has entrusted YOU with to cherish.
The next man said this…
2. Recognize Your Spouse’s worth
Recently, a friend of ours had a tumor removed from his brain. His wife has been blogging and sharing about their journey. Many times, I have been brought to tears as she describes the beauty of character and humility of her husband through this trial.
Deanna values her husband’s Jon’s worth and she lives it loud. (check out www.DeannaRamsay.com for her blog)
When you value someone’s worth, you don’t belittle or tear down that person. You also won’t take even one day for granted. You will cherish their heart and build them up in front of others. When you see the true worth in your partner, you’ll appreciate what this person brings into your life on a daily basis.
And you will shout out loud (like Deanna) for the world to hear, because you know you’ve got a good thing.
We met another older couple from the Middle East outside the food court. The man was adamant on how “the forgiveness factor” impacts marriage.
(He also suggested to the guys, to always let the wife win, hee hee!)
No matter how googly-eyed and in love you are, two imperfect human beings are going to hurt each other with insensitive words, selfish actions, and occasional neglect. Forgiving each other is the foundation for any lasting and loving relationship. Without forgiveness, small offenses and wounds accumulate like a fortress in your heart.
Commit to tearing down these fortress walls (on a regular basis) before you can’t see over them anymore.
The Middle Eastern man’s wife said this, “Divorce is not an option where we come from(Palestine), so take it (divorce) out of the equation and learn how to have fun together since you are stuck together.”
4. Have Fun
I guess if we are stuck together, laughing is better than crying. And my husband makes me laugh like no one else. When we sneak away and go on a date, I fall in love with him all over again. I like who I am with him and he likes who he is with me. We are better together than apart and I always say (away from uptight church circles) that my husband puts the F and the U in FUN!
Science backs this couple up on their “fun theory.” Laughing alleviates stress, improves communication, gets past image management, and releases feel-good hormones in the brain. It builds lasting memories, helps heal old hurts, and binds hearts together.
Maybe your spouse is like Tim –always busting you up, or maybe you are both serious in nature, but you laugh at the same dumb movies.
No matter where you uncover the F and the U and the N, laugh together and have some fun. Apparently, laughing matters!
5. Find a Nice Gal
This comes from my father-in-law, but I had to throw it in. He told Tim, no matter what; find a nice and kind woman. I think what he meant was, bitchy women are great to have crushes, on but don’t marry them.
I like this advice and it certainly applies to both men and women. When it comes to the daily decision to love, kindness is king. First, it shows appreciation. It also builds up security. It’s difficult to be in a relationship with someone whom you have to walk on eggshells around because you never know when the next constructive criticism or putdown is coming.
What are some of your best marriage tips?