Marriage and the Sabbath – two things that God instituted right at Creation. They are both all about love relationships; with each other and with our Creator. Curiously enough they are both things that are becoming less and less important to the world. Practically everyone lives together before getting married now. Marty and I did for a year before we even thought about marriage.
And we got married.
I was 43 years old and it is my first marriage. He was 46 years old and this is his third time at bat. Do you know how hard it is to get married for the first time after the age of 40? After living on my own for 25 years? Not reporting to anyone or sharing my income and space and possessions? For heaven’s sake, I hadn’t even thought about marriage since I was in my late teens. In the interest of full disclosure I should probably mention that when he moved in with me he wasn’t even legally divorced from #2 yet. This… was a recipe for complete disaster.
Marriage is work. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s 24/7/365 work. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a huge payoff for doing the work, but it’s a full-time job. As we considered the prospect of getting married I decided that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it ONCE, and do it right. I assured my partner-to-be that there would be no third divorce in his lifetime. I would be a widow first.
Let’s dispense with the first Marital Myth – no one changes their spouse. If there are things that bug you about someone before marriage, get ready to live with those things. You are not going to change the other person. That doesn’t mean that there won’t BE change, but you’re not going to do it. I know this from personal experience. When I chose to get married just about everyone I knew thought I was nuts.
Yours, Mine and Ours…. Really? I have a saying, “What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is mine.”
If my husband ever actually attempts to cash a check with his own signature on the back of it the bank might not honor it because I sign his name to all his paychecks, etc. The account we have now started as my personal checking account over 20 years ago. Several years after we got married I put him on the account, too. Recently I witnessed the demise of a 17 year long marriage. I saw a lot of damage that came from the husband not knowing anything about the finances of his own household. Why does it work for us and not for them?
We started out our marriage with one vehicle. My car. Mine. I had it before my husband came along, it’s registered to me and it’s mine. He’s an excellent driver but he doesn’t drive my car unless there’s some kind of hard circumstances. We currently have 3 vehicles. MY car. HIS van. OUR truck. None of that has anything to do with the expectation of future legal maneuvers. I had the car before I had the husband. He has a big club van he uses for work and frankly I’m not comfortable driving huge vehicles. The truck/SUV we have is actually registered to me because I was the one who had the time to go register it and I probably do drive it more than he does, but it’s a shared vehicle. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having little “my” objects here and there in marriage. If a marriage is going to work there has to be trust. Finances are the number one killer of marriages. My advice? Don’t make a big deal over them. If there’s trouble over finances, the finances aren’t really the problem.
Lust runs out after a while. Don’t marry someone just because there’s a great physical connection because that’s going to get old after a while. Physical intimacy is great and it’s important but it isn’t enough to sustain a marriage. There has to be emotional intimacy and spiritual intimacy as well. Those never get old, they only grow deeper. The Bible speaks to two people becoming one flesh. There shouldn’t be anything that you can’t talk about. Having a spouse is knowing that you will always have someone on your side. When you’re at odds with the rest of the world, you can know that there is one person who is always on your team.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Pick your battles. Is the fact that he/she leaves dirty socks six inches from the laundry basket really worth a fight? Or could you just pick them up and put them in the basket? Chances are your spouse does the same thing with that coffee cup you leave on the counter every morning. Why open the can of worms and start a snowball rolling downhill?
The Bible says that husbands and wives are supposed to submit to one another. I know “submit” is a bad word in today’s society but society today has twisted things and twisted the meaning of words horribly. We’re supposed to serve each other and that’s a wonderful thing. There are days when Marty works long hours and I work only a few – so I take care of the shopping and the cooking and cleaning up the house. When I’m the one coming home sore and tired and he’s got more energy in reserve than I do, I can expect dinner to be served and the kitchen cleaned up for me. We each pick up for the other with our strength when the other is weak, and that doesn’t just go for housework. I serve him and he serves me. Jesus came to us in the flesh to serve; he washed his disciples’ feet. If you can’t wash your spouse’s feet, there’s an ego problem. And by washing their feet I mean it literally and figuratively.
Family. Mine is his and his is mine. He’s already had two sets of in-laws so my family is a piece of cake for him. The only in-laws he really has from me are my cousins. I have a whole passel of crazy cousins who live in Connecticut. We don’t get to see as much of them now as we did when we lived there, too but we never pass up a chance to hang out with them when we can. They’re chock full of insanity but it’s all good, harmless nitwittery. And what I got from him is a highly functioning dysfunctional bunch who I adore. Because we’re older we’re not subject to some of the pitfalls that younger couples can’t seem to leap over. Younger couples, freshly separated from their parental units and siblings tend to take issues in their marriages right back to the nest. No one else belongs in a marriage besides Husband, Wife and God. Friends and family members may mean well but they’re not in your life 24/7 and chances are they only get one side of the story so they don’t get a vote.
We’ve learned to listen to each other – not only to just what’s being said but what isn’t being said. Sometimes that’s even more important. Take time to say “Thanks” with sincerity, don’t take the little things for granted. My husband is someone who has promised to put up with my nonsense for the rest of his life. Make no mistake about it, I’m not the easiest person in the world to live with. I am controlling, I pout, I obsess about little nonsense that I should just let go, I’m set in my ways, I don’t put the laundry away in a timely manner so we wind up getting dressed in the morning by taking clean clothes out of the dryer instead of out of the closet… I’m not exactly a great cook, either. I was never much interested in the kitchen, and I’m still not. I won’t let either of us starve but if it wasn’t for Mrs. Stouffer… things could get pretty ugly. And someone signed on to put up with all of that and more for life. The man deserves a “Thanks” once in a while, just for coming home.
So, it’s been just over seven years now since we tied the knot. We’ve gotten to a place where we’re pretty comfortable. Our communication is great – we work for the same property management company so we know all the same people, have a lot of similar experiences in our workdays, and frequently even get to see each other during the day. We understand each other’s work struggles and triumphs. It’s nice. It’s added a new layer to the marriage that we’re enjoying. Keep adding. Keep growing.
Seven years in…. it’s all good…
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