The magic of “I get to…”
My bride and I just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. We are blessed with four grown children, seven grandchildren. God has blessed me in so many ways, I am sometimes overwhelmed. I am often asked what the secret is to a lasting, ever-strengthening marriage. We were 19 when we married, had no money, and no clue what lay in store. Statistically we had no chance, but here we are 50 years later. I’m no expert on the matter, I can share a few observations:
Most important, of course, is to have a relationship with Christ as the focal point in your relationship. I have learned that to the degree that Cindy and I are each nurturing our Christian walk, our relationship with each other naturally runs smoother. We take any issues to God in prayer, and look to the Bible for sound counsel. We agree on priorities, care more for each other, jointly make wiser decisions, and tend to argue less and forgive more freely. It is at these times also that other couples notice and model our example. I believe our priorities should be our relationship with Christ, to our wives, to our children, and to our church family, in that order.
There is magic in “I get to…”. Over the years I have learned to cherish my wife more and more. One of the byproducts of this has been a fundamental mindset change. Earlier in our marriage I did a lot of things for my wife, but often resented doing so. I either wanted to be doing something else, or acted solely for the recognition. If the recognition didn’t come, my resentment only grew. With time and increasing maturity, a shift began to occur. Instead of feeling that I had to (make her coffee in the morning, clean up the kitchen, cook her favorite breakfast, go shopping with her, etc.), it began to occur to me that I get to do those things. They were daily expressions of the love and devotion that I feel toward her, and I was privileged to express my love in those ways. Not only did I experience more joy in this area, but my wife somehow sensed that I was truly acting out of love, and responded accordingly. Try cultivating the “I get to” mindset.
Be committed to the institution. One out of every two marriages today ends in divorce. Seems like couples decide they will try this marriage thing, and see if it works out. With divorce as their contingency plan, there is little incentive to work through the inevitable struggles and issues that every marriage faces from time to time. Committed couples take the divorce option off the table. Having done so, they commit to finding a solution to each problem that may arise; over years of applying this principle, they find that the number and severity of marital issues declines. Cindy and I are closer and more happily married now than at any time in our marriage. Commit to the sacred institution of marriage. Carve out time. For the past twenty-five years Friday night has been our date night. We do everything in our power to keep that appointment, and accordingly look forward to it each week. Even if it’s a casual dinner out followed by a movie, it’s our way of making sure that we have at least one special appointment each week. If you don’t have one, I strongly urge you to get started! And let her pick the restaurant and the movie more than half the time…. I pray that each of you can cultivate and enjoy a wonderful, enduring marriage.