This past Wednesday was my wife’s and my 20th anniversary. To me it seemed like a really big deal and something that I had been counting down to for the past few years. Much of that perspective may have come from the fact that my own experience with marriage growing up wasn’t that positive. My parent divorced when I was six and frankly that made me more than a little terrified to get married myself. I knew and had lived, first hand, the scars and the pain that divorce causes and I did not want to go through that experience again. I also knew that statistically, the odds were stacked against me. Children from divorced homes are much more likely to have marriages end in divorced than those from non-divorced homes. So this was a landmark for me and a time to reflect on how we made it to this milestone. Let me say right up front our longevity has been by God’s grace, without a doubt! While my wife is near perfect, I am far from it and without God’s grace my wife would have gotten rid of me a long time ago. (See I have learned a thing or two : )
So here are a few other things I think have helped in our marriage and helped us reach this point. I’m going to be pretty honest with you here. Our marriage has been anything but perfect and over the years both of us have, at times, wondered if we would survive. But these are some of the things that I have noticed have made a difference and the kinds of things I share with couples who come to me looking for advice before they get married or couples who come to me with marriages that are struggling.
1) The more you know yourselves the more you can love each other. Some people know very little about themselves, how they are wired, what their personalities are, or how events in their lives have affected them. Do yourself and your spouse a favor and take the time to ask yourself “Who am I, how am I wired, how has my background impacted me?” if you don’t have the answers to this no else ever will! Understanding yourself is one of the most important spiritual and marital activities you can pursue. Church Father St. Augustine prayed, “Grant, Lord that I may know myself that I may know thee.” John Calvin, one of the Fathers of the Reformation, said this, “There is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God.” If growth in our relationship with God is dependent upon knowing ourselves how much more is it necessary for knowing and loving our spouse! I can only truly exhibit understanding and sensitivity to my wife when I understand the areas where the greatest differences in our personalities and experiences exist. One of the greatest gifts you can give your spouse is to have a clear knowledge of who you are. Closely connected to this point is the next…
2) Know your differences, embrace them and use them for each other’s benefit. (Find out how in tomorrow’s blog!)