Growing Old Together
I am passionate about growing old with my husband. It’s my desire to intentionally journey through life with him and see Ephesians 5:22-23 lived out. I want my marriage to be a representation of the relationship between Christ and His church. When people look at my marriage, I want them to see a picture of Jesus. While I certainly do not have this perfect, 28 years of marriage has given me some practice. I hope that the following is able to leave you with a few pointers on how to cultivate a healthy and thriving marriage.
Be committed to your own personal and spiritual growth.
It is tiring to try to change someone, especially when the only person you can change is yourself. I cannot and should not try to change my husband. Thus, being committed to my own personal and spiritual growth is extremely important. To become more Christ like I’ve developed various habits and disciplines such as studying God’s word, having quite time, listening to the Spirit, praying, and having accountability. To become a better wife, mother, friend, etc., I’ve sought wisdom from God’s word, how to books, bible studies, classes, counseling, and mentoring relationships. I still have lots of room for growth. Personally, I think that marriage is less about being married to the right person and more about becoming the right person.
As Jon and I each have a vertical focus, one of drawing closer to God, we actually become closer to each other equaling oneness. (Image courtesy of http://shoestringtightrope.com/)
Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Be committed to your marriage.
Paul Frost said, “A successful marriage demands a divorce: a divorce from your self love.
”Five years into our marriage, after becoming Christ followers, we adopted the attitude that “there’s no way out but the grave.” We’ve never threatened divorce, as it is not even part of our vocabulary. During 28 years of marriage there have been several times where we had to seek Godly counsel (Psalm 37:30 says, “The Godly offer good counsel; they know what is right from wrong.”), providing us with invaluable tools to recalibrate and get back on the right course. We have learned from experience that being proactive in our marriage reduces the scenarios where we have been reactive toward each other. It also really helps to invest in your marriage by regularly attending marriage related conferences, bible studies, or even mentoring couples about to get married.
Matthew 19:6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Be happy and laugh a lot
I’m a high-strung, type A control freak while Jon is super relaxed, laid back and funny. It’s easy to laugh with him. Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” There are studies that show laughter helps our bodies, both physically and mentally, to heal but I’ll let you Google that. All I know is that laughter has brought joy to our marriage and knits us closer together.
Ecclesiastes 3:12 “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live”
Be willing to quickly give and seek forgiveness when you offend each other, then “let it go.”
I have had many opportunities to practice this one. Because of the forgiveness we have received, God commands us to forgive each other. Usually when I admit I am wrong, my hubby will follow suit. Forgiveness is not something we do for the benefit of others rather is it for our own personal good. Walking around with anger and hurt is extremely unhealthy and draining.
A favorite quote of mine says, “to forgive is to set a prisoner free, only to discover that the prisoner was you.” I have found that my relationship with Jon becomes stronger after an argument that ends with a genuine apology. Bryan McGill said, “There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Be kind in words and actions toward your husband.
It’s easy to find the flaws in each other but I’ve learned that what I think about often affects how I view Jon. Early on in our marriage I didn’t realize how damaging it was to casually share my frustrations about Jon with other wives. Therefore, I adopted the policy to always speak well of Jon. My body language can speak louder than my words thus I try not to give the stink eye, pouting face, folded arms, etc. Yep, early in my marriage I would wrongly resort to these tactics.
The greatest role I can play is being my husband’s loudest and proudest cheerleader. Since husbands are designed to be our provider and protectors, they brave the hostile workforce often dealing with unappreciative and demanding people. Jon said, “Having a welcoming environment for him to return to where he knows he is loved and appreciated is vital in providing a respite from the world”.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
Be respectful of your husband.
Respect is a key ingredient, sadly one I didn’t fully understand until twenty years into our marriage. Most of the women in my life growing up did not model respect toward their husbands. Having been reared in a controlling home I vividly recall vowing that I would never allow anyone to control me as an adult. I loved my husband, but didn’t respect many of his ideas. I had my own ideas of how things should be. He would suggest something and of course I’d find another alternative. And naturally, I thought I was right. The Lord showed me that I wasn’t respecting Jon’s role as the spiritual leader in our family, his thinking or his leading. Once I understood this I have sought to follow his lead and support him. Of course, after years of suggesting, allow your husbands time to take this role back as they have become accustomed to yielding J
Ephesians 5:33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband
Be playful and have fun growing old together.
I’m thankful that my husband is so playful…most of the time. 😉 He is continually teaching me to have fun. Those who play together stay together. I’ve found that we connect to each other because we have routines and share purposeful activities together.
- It’s been said, “Couples shouldn’t date to get married rather, get married so they can date.” Having a regular weekly date is very important for staying connected.
- We enjoy doing many things together such as walking, which helps keep us fit as well as provides for lots of uninterrupted conversations.
- We seek new hobbies and adventures to experience. Recently we have tried Stand Up Paddle Boarding, which is a blast.
- A majority of our fun times have centered on being parents and finding fun ventures together to do.
- We enjoy trying new restaurants and places.
- Traveling always provides opportunities for fun, growth, and memories.
Jon’s love language is touch. He likes for me to hold his hand, hug him, and kiss him often. We start and end our day with three kisses and saying “I love you.” When he or I walk into the house we whistle to announce we are home.
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Be extravagant, playful and initiators in lovemaking.
It’s not only vital but also healthy to meet your husband’s sexual needs. I’ve learned to be spontaneous as well as seeking to do something out of the ordinary, which often translates into extraordinary for Jon. When my girls were young I sent them over to a neighbors and prepared a romantic meal with candles and soft music. When Jon came home from work I greeted him in a special way that still brings a huge smile to his face. Our husbands desire for us to be initiators as it make them feel desired. Sex creates oneness and was commanded by God. If you are meeting your husbands needs in this area he is less likely to look elsewhere.
Mark 10:8 “and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”
What wisdom do you have for a healthy and lasting marriage?
About Cherie and Jon (Husband) Werner:
Having married my best friend in 1985, together we do premarital counseling and encourage families to enjoy the journey of life together. We have three wonderful daughters, Caryn (1988), Courtney (1991), and Cayley (2001), who keep me young and hip. I am passionate about encouraging women in their roles as wives and mothers. Today there are many opportunities clamoring for our attention so we must be purposeful in knowing the legacy we desire to leave behind. Blogging is an opportunity for me to share what I’ve learned along my own journey, with my deepest hope being to love, encourage, equip, and inspire. (read more here)