Lisa and I just celebrated 17 years of marriage this past weekend! To tell the truth, there a lot of people I should be thanking for their investment into my wife and I.
And there are a lot of reasons we’re still married today, but here are a couple of practices that have helped us get where we are. So in no particular order, here they are. Hope they help.
1. We Take Vacations (Just the two of us).
While I love my four kids and spending time with them, I love doing vacation with just my wife! Lisa and I have chosen to save up during every five-year period of our marriage and do a big vacation with just the two of us every five years! It’s always great time with her, and it’s great to pay cash and not go in debt to do it!
2. We Serve Each Other.
Serving is an important and intentional discipline in our marriage. Because we’ve learned that it’s difficult to serve someone well with a bitter heart. Among other things, Lisa regularly offers to make me breakfast and I can’t tell you how many dishes I’ve done over the years.
3. We Made a Commitment.
Lisa and I both know, love and follow Jesus. And while there are a lot of good principles that go into building a great marriage, Jesus is the starting point for us. We didn’t “fall” in love, rather we chose to love each other and made a commitment to each other and to God to love each other well.
4. We Got Help.
When things were dark in our marriage early on, we didn’t hide. We got the professional help we needed to move toward health together. We used to joke around that “Visa saved our marriage.” We didn’t have the money for counseling when we were young, but our marriage was valuable enough to us that money wasn’t going to be an excuse.
5. We Still go on Dates.
Every month, we have at least one date night. It may be going out to a movie, having dinner, lunch or catching a red box movie and dinner together after the kids are down. But regardless of what it is, we are intentional about spending time with each other apart from the kids. I got to know Lisa over hours together at a coffee shop in college, and we still enjoy sitting and talking over a cup of coffee all these years later.
6. We Give and Receive Forgiveness.
This isn’t an easy one to learn, but learn we’ve had to. The reality is you can shrink back from conflict or you can view it as a pathway to relational intimacy. I choose the latter. Every conflict is an opportunity to move toward oneness.
7. We Keep Learning.
It’s been common practice in our marriage to go on marriage retreats, to marriage conferences and read a book every year or so on marriage as a springboard to evaluative conversations that we wouldn’t necessarily have on our own. In fact, we just got done reading and talking about Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book, Real Marriage.