35 Years and The Best is Yet to Come

Whether your marriage is doing great or struggling greatly, your best years are still ahead of you.

The best is yet to comeRegardless of the current state of your marriage, there is always more. More passion. More intimacy. More pleasure. More freedom. More trust. More of everything you are longing for in your relationship.

How do I know this? Because I know that marriage is supposed to model our relationship with Jesus, and that’s how it is with him. There is always more. In fact, I’ve found in my spiritual walk, the more I know, the closer I get to Him, the more I realize how much more there is to know and experience in God. There is no limit. It’s the same for your marriage.

35 Years and counting

Jenni and I celebrated 35 years of marriage this week, and we both still marvel at how it just keeps getting better. Of course, it doesn’t happen by default. We are intentional about our marriage and about loving each other well. The biggest part of keeping your marriage on The Path of Intimacy is being watchful – keeping yourself and your marriage off of autopilot.

Five years ago I was writing for YourTango in the now defunct Traditional Love section. I wrote a piece called “Why After 30 Years of Marriage The Best Is Yet to Come.” In it I said:

Are less sex, more fights, poorer communication and drifting apart really the inevitable? With a nod to the movie Date Night, is it really just a matter of time before couples settle for becoming just “excellent roommates?”

I say no!

Whether you have been together six months or six decades, it is possible to see your future as one filled with excitement, passion and great potential.

In the article, I go on to share five keys to keeping the best times in front of you. You can read them here.

It’s been five years since I wrote that article. It’s still true today, at the 35-year mark. And it will be true on our 40th and 50th anniversary because we plan on keeping it that way.

What’s Better?

You may be asking, “What could possibly be better after 35 years of marriage?” Well, let me tell you:

  • Sex – yes I’ll put this one right out there. Although we are in our 50’s and there are a few physical challenges, our sexual relationship exceeds anything we had in those early years of our marriage. Don’t buy the lie of inevitable sexual decline. We have learned how to please each other, and we have learned what it means to be unselfish lovers. We see our sexual relationship for the privilege it is and relish in surrendering our bodies wholly to one another.
  • Intimacy – I define intimacy as being fully known and yet completely loved. After 35 years we know each other inside and out, and still, we are purposeful about pursuing intimacy on a continual basis. And we have learned that grace is an invitation to intimacy with each other, whereas judgment creates separation.
  • Selflessness – we know better now than ever that, because we are one, when either of us serves and blesses the other, we both win. We’ve pretty much banished score keeping from our marriage and have learned to delight in delighting each other as best we know how.
  • Taking a long view – we have been through many seasons over our 35 years. We have weathered some tough times, and we’ve had plenty of joy and bliss along the way. I feel like we understand better now than ever that life will throw some garbage at you, but it will pass. And we know that any trial is best endured together. The closer we remain, the better we can weather the storms of life.

Above all else, it is the revelation of The Bridal Paradigm that keeps us moving forward in our marriage. The understanding of our marriage is continually being shaped by our understanding that our love is a direct reflection of our love relationship with Jesus. As we continually grow in the knowledge and love of the Lord, we continue to grow in the knowledge of and love for each other. It is a truly endless journey.

PS  That’s me and Jenni in the photo above. Check out my about page if you ‘d like to read more about Our Love Story.

Married 30 Years Today

Today, my one true love and I celebrate 30 years of marriage!

 

That’s a bit of a mind-boggling number because in some ways the marriage journey that Jenni and I have traveled together has flown by. In other ways, I feel like we’ve earned every one of those 30 years.

What’s Our Secret?

It’s hard to point to a single thing that I would say is THE key to keeping your marriage strong and healthy, because a great marriage takes time and attention to a lot of little things every day. But if I had to pick one thing, it would be Jesus. He is the foundation of our marriage and our example of relentless love and grace. It is the love he displays for his bride (that’s you and me, by the way) that has taught me most about how to love my bride. It’s what I refer to as the bridal paradigm.

If you want to know more of our “secrets” to a long, happy marriage, I have a new article up on Your Tango called “Why After 30 Years Of Marriage, The Best Is Yet To Come.” It talks about the importance of always believing that the best years of your marriage are still ahead of you.

If you want to know a bit more about our history, which started way back when Jenni and I met in sixth grade, you can read it in the post called “Our Love Story.”

Let me close by saying a public thank you to the love of my life.

Sweetheart,

I am so thankful for you and for our marriage. I can honestly say that I could not be the man I am today without your love, encouragement, support and patience. You bless me more than I can possibly describe. You still capture my heart with one glance of your eye.

Here’s to another 30! The best is yet to come!

The Rest of the Story

My Part of Our Love Equation

S&J Kneeling England

After our anniversary date, which consisted of a nice dinner and a show, I read my last post to my wife as a sort of anniversary card.

While she greatly appreciated my loving words, she was a bit concerned that it might leave the wrong impression. She felt it was important that I also clearly explain how my own attitudes and actions of surrender have led her to the kind of loving surrender that I described last time.

I hesitated at first, thinking it was going to sound too much like blowing my own horn. But as I thought about it, I decided she was right. So here is my shot at telling the rest of our Surrendered Marriage story.

His Love Comes First

The truth is that my wife’s willingness to love me in a manner reflective of how the church loves Jesus (with things like trust, service, honor, submission, and commitment) is because of and in response to the Christ-like love I have shown her. Of course my love is but a faint reflection of the infinite, selfless, unconditional, and perfect love of Jesus, but I have made it more than clear, for years and years, that my desire is to love her more and better than any other human could, to come as close as possible to loving her as Jesus does.

She knows my heart and that my heart is for her. In fact, I have made it clear to her that my number one goal is to serve her and to love her well. It is every husband’s responsibility and should be every husband’s goal: love your wife selflessly, daily and tangibly, in the things you say and the things you do.

This is not some optional theory. It is the basis of God’s design for marriage. Period.

It’s All Mutual

Everything I said in my previous post, about how my wife knows me and loves me and takes delight in delighting me is true in the reverse. I have spent our entire married life learning about her, about who she is, how she is wired, gifted and called. I do all I can to see that my leadership of our marriage and family causes her to thrive and to step fully into the destiny that God has on her life. I am purposeful in delighting her because her happiness and fulfillment are my highest earthly priority.

In my case, it consists of things like knowing how she likes her tea and making it for her most mornings, even though I am not a tea drinker myself. She also loves it that I collect tea bags during my business trips around the world and bring them to her. I schedule and re-schedule trips to make sure I am home for special occasions or whenever family needs dictate. She knows she can call me anywhere, anytime, and I will drop whatever I’m doing to attend to her needs. Whether she is lost and needs directions, has an issue with one of the children, or just needs reassurance about something, she knows I am there for her and that she is my priority.

I am far from the perfect husband. But I do everything I can to make sure she feels as blessed to be married to me as I do to be married to her.

100-100

Perhaps we haven’t yet arrived at the ideal state: the 100-100 marriage that I talk about here often, where we each are giving 100% to the other, holding nothing back. Still, that is our goal.

We are both able to be who we really are with each other, and that is a wonderfully freeing thing. As we strive toward being completely one in spirit, soul, and body, we know that each of us has grace for the other’s shortcomings and mistakes. We try to give and receive that grace freely. It is this understanding that allows us to be “naked without shame” with each other; that is, to be genuine with each other, to bring the fullness of ourselves to our marriage, without pretense, trepidation or shame.

As a husband, I realize that I set the cap on how many blessings we enjoy in our marriage. So I aim high! I encourage every husband to do the same.

 

I Am a Blessed Man

Twenty-nine years ago today, a beautiful, sweet and amazing young woman gave herself to me.

S&J Wedding Kiss

I suppose she really had no idea what she was getting herself into, but I was deliriously happy that she was more than willing, even excited, to spend her life with me.

I had loved the girl for five years and dated her a bit more than for four. (You can read the rest of that story here). She was my dream come true. I had known it since our first kiss. And suddenly she was mine, and our adventure through life together, our own Journey to Surrender, began.

Here we are today, twenty-nine years in. Hard to believe, really, that it has been that long. And we are more in love now than ever. I can say that with all sincerity. Our love is deeper, stronger and sweeter than it has ever been. I am convinced that’s how it is supposed to be. Still, I am very thankful that I am among the few who get to say that.

I am a very blessed man!

She Gets Me

Jenni knows me to the core. She has a deep understanding of who I am, how I am wired and how God has gifted and called me. Yes, she knows my quirks and weaknesses as well but loves me in spite of my shortcomings.

She has invested herself over the years in knowing me. Her time, her effort and her prayers have all gone into finding out what makes me who I am. It hasn’t always come easily and it didn’t necessarily come quickly. It took years. That’s part of the Journey. The truth is that this part of our love relationship never stops. As I grow, mature and change, her understand of who I am must grow along with me.

There is great comfort and freedom in knowing that she knows me so well. And I know that she loves who I am.

She Loves Me

My wife loves me and loves me well.

She is willing to look past my failings and shortcoming, to give grace in the places that I have not fully matured, and to love me “as if” I was already the man God intends me to be. She sees in me what I can be, not just what I am.

She strives to love me as the church loves Jesus. She loves me for the protection and provision I give her, but more than that she believes in my desire to love her with Christ-like love, even when I fall short of that ideal. Her gift of submission to me, of following my lead and remaining under my covering, does not always come naturally or easily (she has an admitted strong-willed streak).

And she is generous in showing her love:

She Delights Me

My wonderful wife is purposeful in doing things that she knows to make me happy. She has spent her life learning my desires and dreams, and she goes out of her way to make them come true. She delights in delighting me.

She will say that her young love was selfish and that it took her years to learn to be more selfless. I would say that she has always loved me selflessly, but it is true that through the years, as she has come to know me more deeply, she knows better how to please me.

I could rave on her more.  For example, she is beautiful, fun, loves life, and knows how to infuse every little thing with joy. But you have probably already stopped believing me.

The long and the short of it? I love this woman deeply and passionately. And I consider myself to be a very blessed man.