“We are heading to the hotel tomorrow for one night and we will be back home Thursday. Going to celebrate our anniversary with my BEAUTIFUL wife!!!!!”
As I was driving and my son read the text out loud, how could I not smile BIG? It was a text from my 86-year-old dad. He and my mom were about to celebrate their 63rd Wedding Anniversary!
Truly a lasting love story… a lasting marriage.
One that I am honored to share as the sixth and final post in the Building a Lasting Love Story #MarriageSeries! (Need to catch up? Just click on the images below!)
A Lasting Marriage
I am so blessed to have witnessed my parent’s love story. To have been taught what it means to love well. To fight fiercely for your marriage. And to hold on tightly every time life hits hard.Fight fiercely for your marriage and hold on tightly every time life hits hard #marriageseries… Click To Tweet
Make no mistake. Their road has not been easy. Quite the contrary. They have faced multiple hardships. Ones that many marriages never survive.
They hurt, grieved, fought, held on, and loved through every mountaintop and every valley.
As I’ve watched them in these Golden Years and a fully empty nest, I’ve seen their love flourish. As the busyness of the day to day slowed, they leaned into one another and found the joy in what they had spent half a lifetime building. All the work of staying connected the years before was now evident as they fell more in love and celebrated every moment together.
And today? It’s not surprising to see my dad reach out to hold mom’s hand. Nor to see Mom tear up as she talks about how much she loves Dad.
They still enjoy “happy hour” each day. If the weather agrees, they sit on the back porch. If not, the kitchen table is just fine. With Dad’s diet coke and Mom’s glass of red wine and a bowl of popcorn, they sit and talk about all that fills their lives.
And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. -Hosea 2:19
It Looks Different
The Golden Years definitely look different than the years before.
Loving well means learning to flourish while in each other’s space full time. It means accepting the transition from a busyness driven by your children’s needs to a busyness of your own design.
Loving well means enjoying new hobbies together. But it also means learning to encourage and support one another as your bodies slow and health concerns arise.
When I call Mom and Dad, they put me on speaker phone so they can both hear all I have to say. I love it because I only have to tell my stories once! It always makes me smile as I hear their interactions in our 3-way conversations. The other day, I asked them what they thought it takes to build a lasting love story. They had lots to say. 63-years worth to be exact!
27 Ingredients to a Lasting Marriage
- As individuals, do what it takes to be a stable and mentally healthy person. We all have shortcomings and levels of healing that needs to occur, but you cannot remain stuck in your pain.
- Be strong. Believe you can accomplish whatever is needed and you can face whatever comes your way.
- Remain loyal. Don’t ever give that loyalty to someone else. It belongs to your spouse.
- Always defend one another. Even when one parent is smoothing over the not-so-great parenting moment of the other, it should be done in a way that honors the other parent. Remind your children that parent loves them even though they sometimes make mistakes. Point out the good qualities of the other parent.
- Staying together and keeping your family together should be your main goal and your priority.
- Don’t let outside expectations draw you away from the focus of your marriage.
- Pay attention to each other. Life is busy and demands pull you every which way. If your spouse ends up on the backburner, do everything you can to bring them back to the front. Take the time to look them in the eyes and let them know they matter. Let them know you care.
- Keep up your appearance. Love isn’t about appearances, but show your spouse you want to give the best of yourself to them.
- Really Listen. Don’t nod your head and continue watching the television. Listen in a way that your spouse feels heard. In a manner that shows they matter.
- Make sure you have moments only with each other. Enjoying time with your family or other couples is good, but you need to have time for just the two of you.
- Find something you enjoy doing together and do it. Whether it’s dancing, having coffee together, or fishing make compromises to learn to enjoy it together.
- Live within your means. Decide to unite yourselves in the common objective of not living on borrowed money.
- Keep expectations for your children realistic. Expect them to be good people who love each other and love others. Expect them to work hard and give their best effort at whatever they do. As a couple, agree on those expectations and together follow through on holding your children accountable.
- Hold dear all that you create together, cherishing the blessings.
- Encourage each other in achieving and doing that which matters to them.
- Discuss your problems together. Be careful with your words. Use them well. Neither holding back nor over-speaking. Respectfully discus each trial and complication.
- Lean on each other in times of need.
- Be willing to sacrifice for the other.
- If you can’t in the moment, work toward rebuilding that trust.
- Put the greater good ahead of yourselves.
- Don’t give up.
- If you loved each other once, you can always love each other again.
- Be willing to forgive, cleaning the slate and starting fresh.
- Discover not just what you love in the other, but what you like about them.
- Don’t need a rescuer. Be independent in the sense that you aren’t putting unrealistic expectations on your spouse. Lean on them. Sacrifice for them. But know that they are not your Savior.
- Believe in God, being thankful for all He has and will do.
- Pray every day for each other and for your children.
Friends, marriage is not easy. Love is a choice. Building a lasting marriage takes intentional effort. In the world we live in, we have been conditioned to see outcomes almost immediately. Waiting with patience is not something we learn anymore as we grow up. But technology and the speed of our world will never change the covenant of marriage.
It won’t make marriage easier. Or make results come any faster.
Building a lasting marriage is possible. We’ve heard testimony from 6 marriages. 6 thriving marriages! Marriages that have faced conflict. Not marriages that have come easy. But 6 sets of people along the seasons of life who are doing this marriage thing and in it finding irreplaceable beauty. Finding the glory of God.
I pray these insights have encouraged you and given you hope. I pray that you could see yourself in one if not many of the stories within this series. And maybe it gave you the nudge to make a difference in the direction your marriage was heading. Or maybe, it was simply a reinforcement reminding you that your marriage matters and what you have built is something beautiful! And finally, I pray that you, too, will have the opportunity to experience a lasting love story. Maybe even a story that someday celebrates 63 years!
Note: Friends, I know some of you are in situations that simply will not make it. I’ve been there. I get it. There are extenuating circumstances and I want you to know that this is not a place of judgement. This is only a place of love and hope.
If you think your marriage could benefit from a little extra hope and encouragement, consider joining the Searching for Moments Community with access to the Library of Hope. It is filled with resources to encourage your walk with Christ and keep your hope alive!
I regularly link up with these encouraging sites.