Even in the Fire We can Make it Through – What Does it Take to Stay Married?
Being married for 30 years comes with a lot of laughter and even some difficult trials. But how does one stayed married for 30 years!? All I can tell you is that is really doesn’t seem like it has been that long. As I sit here on Kachemak Bay in Homer Alaska, watching a fire brewing in the forest below, I asked Dennis what he thought it took to stay married this long. We spouted off bullet points back and forth and I thought they are worth sharing here. First of all we both share a profound commitment to God and that binds us in a way that nothing else can. Second, we have amazing friends that also have good marriages. Some of our friends are struggling through marriage, but they also have a deep commitment to God and working through their difficulties, and we pray for each other’s marriages. I really believe that God is that third stand in the braid. For us He is the glue that binds.
And the list continues, in no particular order:
- Compromise— This is not always easy, since I am selfish.
- Protecting each other and fighting for each other —I think I receive more of both of these than Dennis does.
- Accountability—We have good friends that hold us accountable to sticking it out when it gets tough and celebrate with us when it is good.
- Fidelity —Dennis’ dad believed this was the number one secret. He was one smart man!
- Communication as well as silence —Not everything has to be talked out. Some times it just needs silence.
- Sex with your spouse —And of course lots of sex with your spouse.
- Mutual respect —I am not sure what happens if you loose respect for each other. I don’t ever want to do anything that causes my husband to loose respect for me. It is really hard to regain.
- Serving each other —I am sure Dennis does this better than I do. His first action is usually to take care of me. I am such a blessed woman. I know I am cherished.
- Hard work and good adventures —We work really hard for lots of hours in our businesses in order to have good adventures with our family and just the two of us. I could work all the time if it wasn’t for a man that insists on adventure. I am so glad he does!
- Common interest —We don’t do everything the same, but we have a thread of common interests. It helps fuel our adventures.
- Good sense of humor —Oh we have to laugh at ourselves a lot. We’ve made big mistakes and done dumb things, we have to laugh or we’d simply fall apart. When things are tough, and they have been tough, we have to laugh just to remind ourselves that we are on the same side and we are a team.
- Never talk bad about each other to others —This goes back to respecting each other. I never want to represent my husband in a bad light. It just makes other’s think less of him and I want other’s to think highly of the man I love.
- Listen to each other —some times all I want to do is talk. I like to talk. But I also want to be heard. It takes a lot more work to listen. I don’t always want the problem to be solved, I just want it to be heard. Same with my husband.
- Commitment —We are committed to each other more today than the day we married. I am not sure why that is, it just feels that way to me. Not that we weren’t then, it is just that we’ve now shared more of our life together than apart. It deserves commitment, it has taken commitment to not give up on this unity. It is so much easier to quit when it gets hard, but anyone can do that.
- Praying together –This brings us right back to including God in our marriage. He is central. It is upon Him that we rest, it is upon Him that we depend, without Him we are lost.
- Serving others —We have served separately, we have served with our kids, and we have served as a couple. As we serve as a couple we grow closer together though the complexity of serving others. I am not sure there is anything quite like it. It is a lot like parenting. It can either put a wedge between you or push you closer together. In serving others we can’t be selfish, we can only rely on God and each other. For us it has created a whole new bond in our lives together.
As we celebrate 30 years together and the big fire bomber has laid down three passes of fire retardant on the fire below, I am reminded that as the fire has died, so it goes with marriage. We go through the fire together and some times there are scars left to show that we’ve made it through, and some times we have prepared for the battles with the fire retardants. As the smoke settles, all I see now is the beautiful blues and greens of Kachemak Bay with it’s ice capped glacial mountains. My 30 years of marriage is a celebration to the joys of kids, laughter, business successes, pets, sadness of deaths, amazing world travels, music, tears, heart ache, sorrow, joy, green mountains, and snow capped glaciers. It is my life with my honest, loyal, loving husband who cherishes me. I am blessed.