Oh, good heavens. I simply cannot BELIEVE I’m about to tell you that 30 years ago, I kissed a boy and I sure liked it. And now we are grandparents and doing all the things we chuckled about and tried to imagine when we were full of youth and ignorance.
Wow, sweet man. We did a thing.
Recently, Jessica asked me some questions about our marriage. She wants to know how we’ve remained a healthy couple throughout so MANY years of “growth, change, and adventures.” How about 30 things, Jessica? Here’s my list (it’s not really dirty but I’m trying to get readers) of how to do this thing well — assuming you think we have. We sure do. We tend to high five about rocking the no-one-thought-we’d-make-it-past-homecoming-king-and-queen-and-here-we-are-pretty-much-the-coolest-ever. :o)
- Dream — Envision things to aim for from trips, to your happy children in later years, to yourselves old and smiling on a porch swing. We did and it all came true. Well, except we’re just barely old — duh.
- Laugh too much — Sometimes a fight can be defused with a realization about how ridiculous said fight is. Try laughing (and not in a mean way). And then to laugh a lot more so be silly and play.
- Turn the screens off and play cards with eighties music (or whatever trips your trigger).
- Talk about your differences. As our friend, Tim Allen recently said we are wired differently. So figure out that he’s logical and you’re emotional and those differences balance and compliment and HELP each other. And then try to think like them to understand.
- Also, like our friend Tim Allen said, it’s really fun to enjoy that our plumbing parts are also different. So try that, too. It helps.
- You don’t have to have date night every week. It’s expensive and it can be impossible. But prioritizing time looking at each other’s faces is a pretty great thing.
- Do something they like and ask the same.
- Plan a day of something new. We figured out we like going into antique stores together! It can be a super fun way to spend the day. And now the antiques bring up memories because those antiques look like things we used to play with. Sigh.
- Decide the *nevers.* There are lines that can’t be crossed. Find them and stick to them no matter what.
- The kids are the best thing you’ll ever have done. But they will not be around forever. If you can see through the thicket of them and all of their stuff and find each other, always, you will find each other at the point when they go live life and you have each other to stare at.
- Slow dance. This helps #5 and well, every other number.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Either you want to be more righter or you want to get along.
- Make the little stuff an adventure and plan big adventures together. An errand day is one of our favorites because we make it awesome — our music, coffee, good food, and catching up on all the words.
- Vulnerability is always a win if the other one chooses to listen.
- Listen better than you did even a minute ago (no screen! even if it’s just that dumb game you play that you swear you can still listen through. Hear their heart — get past the words and hear their very heart.
- When you do fight, pray for yourself. Assume you are the one wrong and ask for wisdom to know how you’re wrong and how you can best fix it.
- Keep some things sacred. I do believe that this is still an important thing we figured out and decided. For us, this means that I want my husband to keep finding me attractive and vice versa. That’s what air freshener is for.
- Who I am in God makes me a better wife. If my sweet man and I are both busy keeping Him first and listening well, we are also pretty great spouses.
- A little note, a cup of coffee, a favorite dinner, vacuum their car, whatever the thing is that says, *I see you!* Do that.
- Fight for him/her. When they’re in the trenches, you are on your spouse’s side above everyone else.
- You can’t get your words back. Build them up to everyone else. Don’t get sloppy and overshare your personal stuff with people who also can’t see the resolution. You’ll move on. They won’t. And your spouse’s image will be damaged.
- Value him. An honorable husband who is also valued for that will continue to rise to honor.
- Love her. If she is lavished in love and feels safe and adored, you will have the best wife in the history of ever.
- Reminisce. Talk about what you did well and celebrate that! The high-five and subsequent slow dance at our baby’s recent wedding was this in its best form and a moment I will never forget as long as I live.
- Be flexible. Times change. We change. And if we decide that it’s possible to love the older, softer versions of each other even more than we did the fresher-faced more ignorant versions, we have joy in the aging and changing.
- Don’t bother trying to change anyone. You chose this person just the way they were. You didn’t buy a fixer upper and you’re not Chip or Joanna. I mean, we can help each other grow (I’m certainly braver thanks to Christian and he likes much better food thanks to me), but please practice restraint and remember why you liked them in the first place. They’re still in there.
- Be approachable. My sweet man has said that to me more times than I can count. So on a good day, I remember how to be listened to instead of just heard. There’s a big difference!
- Don’t waste a day. The older we get, the more we realize that these days are precious and someday we’ll wish we had them back. So soon after we start a bit of a word-spitting ridiculous thing, we purpose to look at each other’s face and hug and kiss it out and say something like, “I refuse to lose this day with you by squabbling.” And it works! Perhaps getting older brings the knowledge that every day is indeed, a gift. And that man/woman you were head-over-heels about once upon a time, is worth fighting for, not with.
- Respect each other. I think every single other number comes down to respect. The world would be a better place if folks acted worthy of respect and treated each other with the same. And the person I happen to think the most of in this world is my sweet man. Even when I don’t like him the most, I can see what an amazing human he is and recount all the ways he shows up in this world as an amazing, son, brother, dad, employer, employee, friend, and treat him the way I see him. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
What would you add to my list? I bet you have some sage advice, friends. Let it rip! Comment below!