Eighteen years ago, I said, “I do.” I walked down that aisle full of hopes and dreams. I have to say, every dream has come true. We have three beautiful children, a home, and careers. The very things I dreamed about on that hot August morning are the very things that pull at our love. The stress of raising children, paying a mortgage, and managing the demands at work threaten to unravel what was once tightly knit. Contrary to my blushing bride beliefs, staying in love takes work.
Last week, in anticipation of my eighteenth wedding anniversary, I gathered five wise women and asked them their secret to long lasting love. They were gracious with their words and spoke life into my heart. Their advice filled my cup to overflowing, so I divided it into two parts. If you missed part one, you can find it here.
The Secret to Love that Lasts
Kids, jobs, church ministries, and even our pets compete for our time. Focused attention to hear each other is important. I look forward to the mid-day chats with my husband. The flirty texts are sometimes better. He needs to know he isn’t alone against the world. Listen to him, hang out on the porch with him. And do something just for him. I always fix his dinner plate. I know he can get it himself, but it’s a special thing I’ve done to show his importance. The friendship that comes from two becoming one is important. The googly-eyed, can’t keep my hands off you love grows into a new kind of intimacy—a matured friendship that doesn’t fade. It makes staying in love through the decades precious. (Robin Allen)
Love doesn’t happen by chance, and it isn’t maintenance free. Recently, our conversations happen at the end of the day. We lay in bed and talk until one of us falls asleep. The maintenance of our marriage is not limited to our conversation; we spend time with team-building activities, both doing projects together and sex. This creates intimacy only Christ can provide for us. We must tap into it regularly. (Angie Daily)
After decades together and life compounded with health challenges, sex is no longer the most important part of our relationship, but it is still important. To make sure days don’t turn into weeks that turn into months—because time does fly—we schedule sex. It’s something to look forward to, and embarrass our kids when we announce with a wink, “It’s Sunday!” (Robin Allen)
Keep Your Personal Relationship with Christ a Priority
The beauty of life with Christ is the ability to turn to His word. When life comes off the rails (which it WILL), it provides the hope of help. When my marriage hits a dry spell, and my heart is fatigued and discontented, I can sow seeds in my spirit, my emotions, and my dreams for the future by reading and studying the Bible. When I DO NOT WANT TO, I write out the words of Jesus anyway. (Robin Lee)
As I look back, there were times I felt empty, and I had little to offer. Part of this is because we pour into our families daily, sometimes hourly. It’s a privilege to do so but it can be tiring. The thing I wish I understood sooner is that we have to go to the source, and be filled first. We have to make our journey to the well. We can’t give what we don’t have. I asked God to fill me with his courage, his honesty, his desire to love through me. (Terri Fullerton)
Keep Your Eyes on the Big Picture
God created marriage for various reasons, some of it being for our own pleasure because He loves us that much. Marriage can be good without Christ in it because God made it that good. A good cut of steak is good on its own but it is exponentially better when paired with the right wine. Similarly, marriage is good on its own but it is exponentially better when paired with Christ. As my husband and I shared great times as well as chartered some pretty tough waters in our almost twenty-eight years, I look back and see how others (namely our kids who are now married) may have been encouraged to stay committed in their marriage as well. As we commit to a lifetime of love, we show others Christ’s love for the Church. We also encourage those who are a few steps behind us that they can stay committed to a lifetime of love as well. (Andrea Stunz)As we commit to a lifetime of love, we show others Christ's love for the Church. Click To Tweet
Marriage is a long and windy road traveling hills and valleys. Lush and lovely meadows are often followed by treacherous and desolate dessert spirals. It is beautiful. It is broken. It is bold. It is subtle. But, ultimately, through the good and bad it is one thing: the sum total of the character of the two people in it. Along the road, I sow seeds. Sometimes the seeds bloom behind me, creating memories of splendor and color in hindsight. Other times, I toss the seeds ahead, knowing the harvest is in front of me. Both add to my life. Each is a reflection of who we really are as people, rather than who we want the world to see us. (Robin Lee)
Thank you for sharing your 130 years of marital wisdom with us, ladies! I take so many nuggets of instruction and encouragement with me. What a precious anniversary gift you gave me!
What is your secret to staying in love? Share in the comments below, or tag me on Twitter using the hashtag #stayinginlove.
Andrea Stunz has been married to Tommy for almost twenty-eight years. She shares her wit and wisdom at Empty Plate Full Heart.
Angie and John Dailey said “I do” twenty-four years ago. She shares her journey at AngieDailey.com.
Robin Allen married Rex thirty years ago. Read more from Robin here.
Terri Fullerton has been married to Doug for twenty-eight years. You can find her thoughtful insights here.