Joy and peace are the long-term results of a marriage where each person chooses to love the other no matter the circumstances.
A few months ago, our youngest son married a wonderful woman. We love her as a daughter and are so excited for their future. Their marriage makes me think back over the early years of marriage with my incredible wife. I’ve learned a lot over nearly a quarter century with the same person. Here are some tips for those of you who are recent grooms… and for all married men who want to improve the years to come.
Watch for Warning Signs
After we had been married a short time, I took a job as a university professor. I was teaching during the day and running labs all evening. My wife and I had very little time together. At one point, I was scheduled to go on a multi-day trip with a group of students. When I let her know, she nearly broke down.
Being apart so much was too hard on our relationship. I decided not to go on the trip and changed my time priorities. When your wife has a problem, pay attention. It may save your marriage.
Take Time to Learn About Her
When I asked my wife to marry me, I went all in. I had dated a lot of young women but knew this one was different. I wanted to spend every moment with her. After we were married, I still wanted to do so. I didn’t look for ways to be apart; I looked for ways to be together.
When you intentionally spend time with your wife, you will discover beauty in her personality and love her all the more.
Don’t Be Surprised by Financial Challenges
At the start of our marriage, we were broke. VERY broke. For a period of time, after we had a child, we needed government assistance just to keep food on the table. It hurt my pride, and I didn’t like it but also knew it was temporary.
If money is low, there are always ways to make more. Also, realize that increased income comes with increased experience. Don’t let issues with money cause issues in your relationship. Love each other and work through financial challenges together. Things will get better.
Know that Love Changes
When we first met, I was head over heels in love. Everything she did was perfect, and I looked forward to spending all my time with her. After we had been married for a bit, those feelings cooled, and we wondered what was next. Fortunately, a close friend gave us a copy of The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman.
The book is amazing and showed us how to love each other in ways that were meaningful to us as individuals. But it taught another important point. Love is a choice. Love isn’t an emotion I feel; it’s the choice I make every day to show her kindness and take actions to serve her. After a very short period of choosing to love the feelings returned. Nearly 25 years later, they remain and grow ever stronger. Choose to love you wife and you will never stop feeling the love in your heart for her.
Be Committed for Life
Before we were even married, Sally and I had made the decision that marriage was for life. When money was lacking, working long hours, raising children, moving multiple times, and changing jobs frequently occurred we remained committed. The one constant was our unwavering decision to stay married. The reason most couples divorce is simple, they don’t decide to stay married. When we committed to each other that our marriage was for life, then every decision was based on that fact. If there was a conflict or problem, we always chose the path that led to staying together. We never let our feelings dictate our future. We stayed true to what we promised at the altar.
You have to know that there will be hard times. Jobs change, friends change even our bodies change. But one thing must never change, your commitment to each other. The decision to stay married is what will keep you together.
Through the early years, as we learned more about each other, there were occasions where my personality was a problem. I was impatient and quick to anger. Although Sally and I didn’t fight, there were times where I walked out of a room in frustration.
I’m an avid reader, especially in the personal growth area. In reading, I learned a simple truth. Just like love, happiness is a choice. When it hit me that every moment of every day I could choose to be happy it changed my life! I’m still not perfect at this, but I have to say that my default mode is happiness now. When you encounter a challenge in your marriage, just remember, you can choose to be happy.
From my perspective, the early years of marriage are a short blip in a lifetime together. But for most couples, it’s the early years that make or break a marriage. No matter what life brings your way early in marriage take it in stride. All couples go through challenges, and when everything is new, they may be harder than you like. But take heart, remember that marriage is for life and difficulties pass.
Stay committed to each other. Joy and peace are the long-term results of a marriage where each person chooses to love the other no matter the circumstances. Love your wife and never let her go.
Photo: Flickr/ Micheal J