On Sunday, while Katie and I were eating dinner on our back porch for our anniversary she mentioned to me that I didn’t write an anniversary post or things I’ve learned about marriage as I’ve done in the past (see here). As we sat there, and having just heard the news about Pastor Bob Coy resigning over moral failing and being reminded that everyone (including me) is one choice away from wrecking their life. I was reminded of this one simple marital truth:
Getting married is easier than staying married.
Every year, lots of people get married and every year sadly, lots of people end their marriages in divorce. Getting married is easy. You simply need someone to marry and a person to perform the ceremony. Staying married, lasting to year 5, 10, 15, 25 and 50 takes work.
Someone asked me last week who knew it was our anniversary what is one piece of advice I’d give to a young couple. It is this: Staying married is the hardest thing you will do. It will require more work than you imagine, but it will be better than you can imagine if you do.
With that in mind, here are 5 ways to stay married:
- Grow close to Jesus. This may seem obvious, but if you stray from Jesus, stop reading your bible, feel your relationship with Jesus suffer, lots of things go wrong. Your desire to fight sin goes down. Your desire to serve your spouse goes down. Your desire to love your spouse goes down. Your desire to stay pure goes down. All because of one thing.
- Keep your relationship first (behind God). Your kids matter and you love them. Your kids come after your marriage. One of the fastest ways from going from a great marriage to being roommates is placing your kids above your spouse. One day, your kids will be gone and you will have only your spouse. At this point, most couples split because they no longer need to stay together for the kids and they have nothing in common. Don’t let that happen. This doesn’t mean you neglect your kids and not do anything with them, but it means they come after your marriage. Not sure where you stand on this, here are 10 ways to know you are putting your kids in front of your marriage.
- Know affection is the first thing to go and fight against that. Affection is what goes first. Kissing when you say goodbye, holding hands, snuggling. Life is busy, you know your spouse, you have them now, your kids are climbing all over you, you are running late, you are tired and want to sleep, you are worried if you snuggle he will want sex and you just want to go to sleep. All of these things happen to couples who couldn’t keep their hands off each other at one time. Fight this. When you kiss, kiss for 5-10 seconds. Throw some tongue in when you are just saying hello or goodbye. Gross your kids out. Hold hands in the car. Kiss at a red light. Snuggle at night. I’ve said this before and people tell me I’m wrong, but I’m not: the amount of sex you have, the amount of affection you have, is one of the best barometers for where your marriage is. Show me a couple with little affection and little sex, and I will show you a couple going in opposite directions.
- Religiously keep a weekly date night. Date night is one of the most important things a couple can do. Every week. Protect it with your life. When we first started doing a date night, we protected it religiously. Nothing interfered with that. Now that we are in the habit, we often move the night to fit our schedule. Here are some ideas for doing date night at home, some rules we have for date night and some help for when date night falls apart.
- Protect your heart, emotions, mind, eyes and body. Every week I hear about another pastor who has resigned because of committing adultery. I counsel couples all the time who are getting a divorce because he won’t stop looking at porn, she won’t stop reading romance novels and fantasizing, one of them cheated, one of them doesn’t want to fight for their marriage and work at it. All kinds of reasons, all kinds of excuses, and all of them are simply heartbreaking. Protect yourself. Your marriage, your family, your life and legacy matters too much for it to fall apart.