On October 18th we celebrated the day we met each other. In 1969, we met at a small college in Michigan (52 years ago). Steve was a disc jockey at our college radio station. And later in the evening I tuned in and enjoyed being a listener. I called in a song request; we talked, and that starts our history together. (For more, read: The Love Story of Steve and Cindy Wright.)
So, to us, October 18 is a monumental day for celebrating our love! After all, if we didn’t meet 52 years ago, we wouldn’t have fallen in love, or have a chance to celebrate 50 years of marriage (next March 18). So, we had a great time of celebration in quiet, but meaningful ways. And it was wonderful! God has helped us to grow our love in amazing ways!
All of this goes along with something Dr Gary and Barb Rosberg wrote:
“Without celebrating love, your relationship will stagnate, and you will drift apart emotionally. … Celebrating love usually isn’t something that ‘comes over’ you. You don’t just sit around and wait to fall in love again. You cultivate celebrating love intentionally. One of the primary ways to inspire daily celebration in your relationship is to purposely put each other first. Move your spouse to the top of your to-do list, just a bubble behind your love for Jesus.
“This means you must make spending time together a priority, just as you did when you were first dating. We’re not just talking about ‘quality time.’ Sometimes you need hundreds of hours of ‘quantity time’ before you can enjoy real quality time with your spouse. You need frequent periods of time away from the kids and other responsibilities. Find enjoyable activities—everything from hobbies to foreplay to conversation—that will rekindle intimacy of heart and spirit. Give your spouse priority access to your time instead of just the leftovers.” (From the article, “How to Fall in Love All Over Again”)
And that’s what we have done, and what we did on this anniversary day. But the celebration continues. You don’t just say, “I do” to marrying each other and stop there. The wedding is the birthing place of learning how to love each other well as a married couple. So, to remind us of the intentionality it takes to grow our love relationship as married couples, the following is something we have posted in several rooms of our home. It makes the point that there is a special art to growing your marriage into a continual love affair.
Growing the Love in Your Marriage
Wilferd A Peterson wrote these important marriage tips. But we’ll personalize them a bit by adding a few comments in (parenthesis). Just try not to rush through reading them; there is a lot to prayerfully consider. We hope they minister to your marriage as they have ours. The goal is to celebrate your love as you live out:
THE ART OF MARRIAGE
Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created.
In the art of marriage, the little things are the big things.
(“Note the little things. Have you ever been bitten by an elephant? Probably not. Have your ever been bitten by a mosquito? Probably so. It’s silly illustration, but it makes a point: little things often matter most, especially in marriage. Too often, we think on a grand scale about romance, creating the perfect once-a-year getaway, and neglect the little opportunities that present themselves every day in marriage.” – Drs Les & Leslie Parrott)
It is never being too old to hold hands.
(Actually, that is one of our favorite activities. It’s a simple ways to celebrate love that connects you hand to hand and heart to heart. That’s why we highly recommend this non-aerobic activity! Even so, you’ll find your heart pounding in a gentle, but meaningful way.)
It is remembering to say, “I love you” at least once a day.
(This is another great way to celebrate your love! Saying, “I love you” to each other is like giving each other vitamins to build up the health of the heart of your love for each other. We talk about his in the past Marriage Insight, I Love You AND I Like You. Again, it’s a great way to DAILY celebrate and grow your love!)
It is never going to sleep angry.
(Now that doesn’t mean that you must stay up and fight. That can be unhealthier than going to sleep angry. But don’t go to bed angry. How do you do that when you’re in the beginning, or the middle of a heated conflict? We’ve learned how to navigate this difficult marital situation. Here’s an explanation, if you haven’t read it before: Going to Bed Angry?)
It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon.
It should continue through all the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
(Here’s what we’ve learned on this issue: Make it a point to honor each other. Don’t allow others to separate you in the things they say, or the things you say to them that can hurt and dishonor your spouse).
(“Badmouthing, gossiping, and talking about your marriage to someone else is just wrong. In fact, gossiping to others is one of the quickest ways to break trust in your marriage. Now, if you need help or a place to vent, meeting with a counselor, pastor, or a safe friend is okay. But this person should always support your marriage and encourage you to work on it. There’s a big difference between seeking advice and gossiping. Gossiping is what we call ‘character assassination’ and it’s hurtful for all relationships, especially marriage.” – Casey & Meygan Caston)
Continuing with these points, in the art of marriage:
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
(Isn’t this what you did for each other before marriage? And isn’t that one of the things that grew your love for each other? This is the same concept in growing love after marriage.)
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have wings of an angel. (They keep falling off anyway!)
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
(We totally agree. The Lord has shown us to live it out daily and we KNOW it has helped us grow our love daily. Make sure you:
“Accept the fact that you’re not married to perfection. But neither is your spouse. Your spouse makes mistakes that upset you [just as you make mistakes that upset your spouse]. But this doesn’t make him or her a bad person. Understand that your spouse chose you, despite your faults. Tolerating being patient, accommodating and not complaining are wonderful ways to communicate commitment and love.” – Tony Rankin)
Moreover, in the art of marriage:
It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. (That isn’t easy; but it IS essential.)
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the Spirit. (Actually, be sure the Holy Spirit is given proper priority in your marriage.)
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
(Make it your goal to have a growth-focused marriage. Don’t stunt each other’s growth; but cultivate an atmosphere where you both are given the grace and space to grow.
“In a growth-focused marriage each partner takes responsibility for what God wants to do in his or her life. Whenever there’s an ‘issue’ they actively seek to apply Psalm 139:23-24: ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.‘ Their first prayer is, ‘Lord, change me.’ – Gary and Carrie Oliver)
“Understand what’s wrong with the idea ‘We grew apart.’ Are we plants? No. In marriage, we agree to be gardeners. The plant is love, which, when tended, bears fruit. When we marry, we vow to tend the garden—to love, honor, cherish…remember? To have a healthy, beautiful garden, we must fertilize and water continuously. We must be alert for weeds and eradicate them early, before they choke out love.” (Patricia Hartman, from the article, “Don’t Say, ‘We Grew Apart’”)
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal; dependence is mutual, and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner; instead, it is being the right partner.
And even though the following is not in the above marriage poem, it is an ESSENTIAL point. As you are living out the art of marriage to grow your love:
“Unless the Lord build the house, those who labor in vain who build it…” (Psalm 127:1)
Build and Keep Building
Building a loving, healthy marital home together involves living for Christ, and applying His Word to how you live with each other. In essence, it means building a love life together as you “walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)
We are to be “imitators of God”, so we reveal and reflect the love of Christ in the way we interact with each other. That means that we are to be careful in how we “walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)
And they definitely are! We do not live in a marriage-friendly world, so we need to be especially careful in how we live together. The enemy of our faith wants to tear our marriages apart, and too many in the world accommodate that agenda.
So, celebrate your love. But make sure you include the Lord, so you are a “cord of three strands.” This includes the Lord, your spouse, and you. Keep in mind: “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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