Falling in love is easy. People all over the world do it every day. Some people do it repeatedly …and don’t even give it a second thought. But it’s not the “falling” in love that is so difficult. It’s the “staying” in love that truly stands out as remarkable.
On March 18th Cindy and I (Steve) celebrated staying in love for 50 years of marriage. That was the date of our “golden” anniversary. And it felt and feels golden. We both can honestly say we’re more in love with each other today than on our wedding day.
FYI: We have this Insight available in Podcast form. To listen, just click on the Podcast button to the right. →
But honestly, we haven’t always liked each other during our marriage. Sometimes our negative feelings overshadowed our love. But even on those “off” times we would eventually come back together to work through our differences. We learned through what we lived through and started anew.
In this Marriage Insight we’re sharing several principles that have guided us through our 50-year marriage journey. We hope it inspires others to make it their goal to have a 50+ year “staying in love” marriage too.
At the outset, however, we want you to know it is not our goal just to “stay” married for 50 years. Our primary objective is to have a loving marriage that glorifies God and draws others to Him. In fact, that’s what originally inspired us to start Marriage Missions more than twenty years ago.
With that said, here are some principles that have helped us do that:
STAYING IN LOVE AFTER MARRYING PRINCIPLES
PRINCIPLE 1: Make Jesus the Anchor for Your Marriage.
When Cindy and I got married in 1972 we didn’t know Christ as our Savior. We tried to do it in our own strength and wisdom; and that nearly destroyed us. Fortunately, God revealed Himself to us in 1974.
Now, He didn’t magically heal our marriage at that point. He expected us to participate with Him. Right from the beginning, God began to show us how to “DO” marriage in a way that would honor Him and help others (like you) Reveal and Reflect the Heart of Christ Within Marriage. And to be honest here; it has been a difficult step-by-step process. But WOW! What a journey! Looking back over these past 50 years we’re so glad we made Jesus the Anchor that keeps us from drifting away from each other. We know beyond a shadow of doubt that we would not be together if it weren’t for the Lord’s guidance and help.
PRINCIPLE 2: If You Want a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime it Will Take Tenacity.
Let’s face it, we’re living in a world that is NOT “marriage friendly.” On top of that the enemy of our faith will do everything possible to divide us and crush our marriage. However, there is good news. With Jesus as our anchor, He can help and empower us to have the tenacity to fend off any attack that comes our way.
I like this definition of tenacity: “Tenacity is the quality displayed by someone who just won’t quit — who keeps trying until they reach their goal.”
Jesus came to die for us all to give the gift of eternal life for everyone who confesses Him as Savior and Lord of their lives. He knew His death would be brutal. But He never wavered from His mission; He had the tenacity to see it through to the end—HE NEVER QUIT!
The Good News is Jesus inspires and strengthens us to apply that same tenacity to see our marriages through “Until death do us part.” See if you can relate to the following word picture Dr Steve Stephens gives on what tenacity in marriage requires. It’s from his book, “Marriage: Experience the Best.”
“It’s a sad state of affairs when we take better care of our cars and houses than we do our marriages. We change the oil, fill the tank, check the tires, and periodically tune up our cars. We change light bulbs, wash windows, paint walls, unplug toilets, and re-roof our houses. But what do we do to maintain our marriage? The truth is more damage is done than repairs are made.
“How important is your marriage? Is it more important to you than your car or your house? Are you willing to put in the time and energy and whatever else it takes to prove to your partner how valuable the relationship truly is to you?
“Stop saying your marriage is important. Words are cheap. Rather, prove it! Prove it to your spouse by the effort you put forth. The bottom line is: Do you have the tenacity to make your marriage great?”
For those in non-abusive marriages—where you are unhappy and think that you’ll never experience joy in your marriage again, keep the following in mind:
“In studies of 700 miserable, ready-to-split spouses, researchers found that two thirds of those who stayed married were happy five years later. They toughed out some of the most difficult problems a couple could face. What was their strategy? A mix of stubborn commitment, a willingness to work together on issues, and a healthy lowering of expectations.”
In other words, these couples applied tenacity, and stubborn commitment.
In conjunction with Tenacity is…
PRINCIPLE 3: Never Use the “D” Word (Divorce) as a Threat or a Weapon.
Early in our marriage Cindy and I threw this word around quite a bit. And looking back we carry a lot of regrets.
Here’s what Dan and Lydia from the Living in Nobility web site say about this:
“It’s not uncommon when things get tough for people to resort to threats, especially if they feel afraid. …Through the years, I’ve been grateful that Lydia and I made a commitment to one another that no matter how difficult things got in our relationship, we would never use the ‘D-word’ (D-I-V-O-R-C-E) in an argument.”
They went on to say:
“Even in the times where everything appeared hopeless, our commitment to our covenant held strong and we made it through. Every marriage goes through seasons, and some are much harder than others. By sticking it out and working through issues together, the marriage bond grows stronger and together you learn to tackle harder and harder obstacles.”
Cindy and I like the two “C” words they use — Commitment and Covenant because that’s what God revealed to us to a long time ago to use to replace the “D” word in our vocabulary. And that’s what we challenge you to use, too.
PRINCIPLE 4: Tear Down Marital Strongholds to Gain Victory Over Them.
This has been an especially important principle for me because I had a Pornography addiction earlier in our marriage that could have destroyed our relationship. Fortunately, God got ahold of me and showed me the way out. It wasn’t easy, but it was so freeing and made our marriage so much stronger.
Cindy had strongholds related to past abuse that needed to be torn down. Again, this was not easy; but it brought healing to her and our marriage relationship.
Now, there are many other strongholds that can be equally destructive. Every one of us has our weaknesses. If it’s not this, it’s that, or another. And the enemy of our faith knows very well how to capitalize on these weaknesses. But stand strong! Don’t give the enemy that victory! Dr. Tony Evans has this word of caution for us:
“Strongholds show up in our marriages when we no longer realize that marriage is a covenant, nor do we understand what a covenant is. In order to break those strongholds, we need to realign our thoughts underneath God’s viewpoint of a covenantal marriage.”
David and Gretchen Willard add this to breaking strongholds in your marriage:
“If you add prayer to your marital relationship, research shows that only one percent of couples that pray together ever divorce.” One percent is very low indeed! Families that pray together, stay together. Prayer breaks down spiritual walls, removes strongholds, opens the doors of communication, blends a couple together, and invites God into the midst of your relationship.”
Prayer, reading our Bibles, and listening to God’s promptings has been the best weapons we have used to tear down the enemies’ strongholds. It’s also the glue that has held our marriage together. It may seem counterintuitive to invite God into your marital struggles, but trust us, that’s the best way we know of to destroy that, which wants to destroy your marriage. God helps us to sort through our issues so we can stand strong, if we invite Him to do so.
PRINCIPLE 5: Infuse Fun and Laughter into Your Marriage.
I can only imagine what you’re thinking right now: “But Steve, that’s not realistic with everything that’s going on in our world right now with wars and rumors of wars and inflation, and… and… and…!” My answer is: “Absolutely! I’m acutely aware; and that’s why those situations are at the top of Cindy and my prayer list every day.”
But do you know what else is at the top of our marital priority list? It is to infuse fun and laughter into every day. If we didn’t do that, we believe our spirits would be overwhelmed with sadness. And believe it or not it is not dishonoring to God to have fun and laughter in your marriage—every day. It is “medicine” that He labels as “good.” And if God thinks it’s good, who are we to argue?
This is what Ted Cunningham says about this in his book, Fun Loving You:
“The almighty Creator of heaven and earth gave us laughter as a season. In extreme climates, there are only two seasons, a rainy season and a dry season. What season is your marriage in right now? Is it in one of those dry seasons where everything is a fight? If I can be blunt, some of you are currently in a ‘too serious’ season. Laughing to you seems childish and immature. Lighten up. Your spouse will thank you, and you will live longer.”
Ted goes on to say:
“Not taking yourself so seriously is the first step toward bringing laughter into your marriage. Being a responsible adult does not mean that you must remain serious at all times. Self-deprecating humor goes a long way in building intimacy in your marriage. God wants you to laugh.
“We need to laugh in the midst of the grind. The grind may be one reason why the average child laughs some 400 times per day compared to the average adult laughing only 15 times a day. If we let it, the grind can rob us of our sense of humor.”
All married couples encounter “the grind” in their homes and marriages. That’s why we need to be intentional in infusing fun, humor, loving words, and loving actions into our marriages. Here’s the Steve and Cindy Wright unwritten (until now) formula we follow daily, in no particular order:
1. We hug and kiss and say, “I love you” a LOT throughout the day.
2. We hold hands and snuggle each night before going to sleep (even if it’s just for a few minutes).
3. We share funny quotes (or cartoons) with each other from various resources.
4. We listen, at various times, to a radio comedy channel that has “clean” comedians.
5. We watch funny movies or TV shows together whenever possible.
6. We get together with friends that we can cry with, laugh with, and pray with together.
7. The last words out of our mouths before we go to sleep are the tender words, “I LOVE YOU!”
Now, here’s a BONUS PRINCIPLE that Cindy wants to share. It has also helped us immensely. It concerns resolving conflicts that arise within our relationship.
“If we strive to seek the Light, rather than striving to be right, a lot of our marital issues will resolve themselves.”
I don’t know who said this, but it has stuck with me (and us) throughout the years. And it works! In other words, if we strive to seek Jesus, rather than our own version of “our rights” His peace and wisdom will help us to resolve whatever is dividing us. Problems divide us when we start “Right-Fighting” —thinking our own individual ways of approaching the matter is of utmost importance. It doesn’t matter who’s right; it matters what’s the right approach to the problem.
And prayer is the best start to resolving any problem! From there, God’s Light illuminates what we need to do from there. (And sometimes it’s just a matter of trusting Him.)
Now, obviously after fifty years of marriage Cindy and I could cite many more principles that have guided us to be able to reach the 50-year milestone. (You can find them by looking around on this web site.) But to sum up this Marriage Insight, we know we have been blessed by God beyond measure; and we want the same thing for your marriage.
We believe if you start implementing just these five+ principles you can see a significant improvement in your marriage, too. It’s the “one small step at a time “principle. Little by little it all adds up to a great marriage. And with God as your anchor and your guide, you will stand amazed, as Cindy and I are standing at this “golden” time in marriage.
May God bless your marriage abundantly, as you lean into Him!
Steve and Cindy Wright
In honor of our 50th wedding anniversary, we’re asking if you would prayerfully consider making a 50-dollar (or more) donation to Marriage Missions. The ministry is a bit behind in what we need to support it. Your gift will impact marriages all over the world. When you give, we want to say thank you by sending you a link to receive a free download of our e-book, 7 Essentials to Grow Your Marriage to greatness!
In advance, Cindy and I are so grateful for your generous donation by CLICKING HERE.
Thank you again for all you do to keep our ministry moving forward. We literally couldn’t do this week after week without you.
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