Our fabulous marriage mentors, (Yoda, collectively), have agreed to share with us a bit of what they’ve learned about being married:
What We’ve Learned in our Marriage
The relational discoveries we have made in our 54 years of marriage have their roots in our faith in God and the desire we both have to be traveling through life on a path of spiritual growth. We have no way of dealing with our character flaws apart from this. Without the humility that comes from a relationship with God, our ability to make space in our lives for each other would be minimal at best.
The following are some specifics learned in this journey. They are not listed in order of importance or in the order learned. They have all become important to us and most of them we are still learning.
- We are learning to be experts on each other so we can know how to meet the other’s needs. In this way we are both getting our needs met but it is because we are gifting each other rather than demanding from each other. One is living in debt, and the other is the joy of giving freely to one we love.
- We are learning that we are meant to live in agreement with each other in the significant aspects of life. We make no major decision unless we are both in agreement. The foundation for being able to do this is twofold. The first is that each of us is seeking to be open to God’s direction. The second is that we are learning to submit our lives and our best thinking to each other so that our egos don’t get in the way of this agreement. This leads to the next idea.
- We have learned to listen to each other. No one knows us better or loves us more than our spouse – so we listen to the one who has the best insights for our life.
- We are also learning that marriages flourish in community. We have often found wisdom and encouragement to move in a better direction by letting people we know and love speak truth into our lives and marriage. Another way of thinking about this is that each of us needs friends who can walk with us as individuals and because our marriage has a personality that is a combination of the two of us we need other marriages to interact with the personality of our marriage.
- Children have brought us great joy. They also bring challenges. We have learned that the best thing we can do for our children is to love each other. This love for each other creates an atmosphere of safety and encouragement that they can get in on. And when we love each other we are able to focus together on loving each child as they need and deserve.
- We have learned that love flows downhill. In the same way that God’s love for us flows into us and gives us the capacity to love each other and to love the people he brings into our lives our love for our children does this for them. It is obvious that the love we return to God is not nearly as great as the love he has for us. It should be equally obvious that the love we have for our children will never be returned in the same degree that it is given – and that leads to the next point.
- We have learned to stop placing unrealistic expectations on each other, our children, our grandchildren and our friends. One of the most painful things in life is the disappointment we experience when others fail to meet our expectations. We do our best to release them.
- We have learned the joy of speaking words of affirmation and gratefulness to each other. There is joy in both receiving such words and joy in speaking them.
- And because we never live the above ideas with anything approaching perfection we have learned the freedom of forgiveness – freedom for the one forgiven and freedom for the one forgiving. This may be the one we have learned to practice the most.