After 10 years of marriage, these are the secrets we've learned to love each other well.
There we were, 7:30 in the morning, standing atop Falls Park waterfall. We were making a trip north to see friends for the weekend and had gotten an early start. He was driving the wrong direction. I TOLD him he was driving the wrong direction but he kept saying, “No. This is the right way. I know what I’m doing.” He did actually. He had packed a picnic breakfast and was taking me to the Falls as a surprise detour.
He parked the car then got the picnic basket out of the trunk and walked toward the top of the falls. Turning back to look at me he smiled, excitement and nerves battling for first place, and beckoned to me. By the time I made it to his picnic spot he had everything laid out and waiting. Before we sat down to eat, down on one knee he went. Calling me “Darling” – his name for me – he asked me if I would marry him.
It was truly a perfect proposal. Our children love to hear the story of when Daddy asked Mommy to marry him. And when times get rough, I conjure up memories of perfect moments like that to fuel me through. Unlike that perfect proposal, our marriage has not been perfect. It’s been more like that waterfall… rushing water over a rocky outcropping followed by rapids followed by calmer waters and again rapids and then more falls.
Over the 10 years of our relationship we have struggled to find the formula for happiness that resulted in constant joy. Probably because it doesn’t exist. BUT there is a formula for a happy marriage; one where you both experience mostly good days of marital bliss.
1. YOUR MARRIAGE IS NOT ABOUT YOU.
There. I said it. I know every chick-flick in the history of ever tells you that marriage will make you feel good/happy/satisfied/content… WHATEVER. They are wrong. Your marriage is about sacrificing your rights in service to your partner. So if you aren’t ready to spend the rest of your life serving someone else, don’t get married. Having the humble heart of a servant is the numero uno attitude that will take your marriage from two roommates to two soulmates.
2. LOVE. GUYS LOVE YOUR WIVES.
I know you already think you knew this one, but you didn’t. I don’t mean mushy, sentimental poems and romantic tips to the seaside. I mean, there IS a place for that sort of thing. But I’m talking about deep abiding, unconditional, she’s-as-loveable-as-Hitler-but-you-do-it-anyway, hard work love. It happens in the small moments like taking out the trash after a full day’s work and cleaning up kid-vomit in the wee hours of the night. It also happens when she is a bear to deal with. When she hasn’t quit nagging for days but you see through the nagging to the fear that fuels her emotions so you wrap her in a hug and assure her that its ok. It happens when you spill out your life and strength to protect and care for someone who is as easily damaged as the wing of a butterfly. It’s loving her when she least deserves it.
3. RESPECT. LADIES RESPECT YOUR HUSBANDS.
Wait... what? Of course you love him, isn’t that the same thing as respect? Nope. Respect is the deep admiration of someone else through reverence and honor. Why should you care? Because it is more important to him than being loved. I know every commercial and T.V. sitcom tells women it’s ok to belittle men, making them into little more than overgrown children, but we’re doing a disservice to the men in our lives by treating them as incompetent fools.
In her book For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn explains how men responded when posed with a question; “three out of four men indicated that if they had to choose between feeling inadequate and disrespected by everyone, or alone and unloved, they would choose feeling alone and unloved.”
Did you GET that? Men would rather be unloved than disrespected. Men feel love by experiencing respect. That means that if your goal is to make sure your hubs feels loved, you NEED to respect him. Saying things like, “Honey, I’m proud of you.”, “Hey, thanks for giving me a different perspective.”, and “You decide what to do with this money. I know you are looking out for our family and I trust you.” will do wonders for your husband’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Even more so, you must show respect when he doesn’t deserve it. I know you’ve been taught that people only get your respect if they’ve EARNED it, but that doesn’t work. What if we went around telling people to only love others when they deserve it? That would be insane of course. It’s the same with respect for men. A disreputable man responds to respect from his wife by becoming respectable. - Continue reading on the next page