I've been thinking a lot about this post, about how it might offend anyone who had a marriage that didn't make it 25+ years.
But I'm going ahead with it because I have learned a thing or two in my 25+ year marriage that no one told me and I didn't read in any book. I do not mean any offense to those whose marriages have ended unhappily. I only mean to give tips and encouragement to those who are striving to make their marriages last a lifetime.
How to Stay Married For a Lifetime
1. Buckle up. It's going to be difficult at times.
I once talked to a pregnant mother who shared that she was going to try giving birth naturally and she sure hoped it didn't hurt too much. My hand immediately went to my mouth to keep the words inside. Since I have given birth naturally 6 times, I know that it hurts like a BIG DOG. I was thinking, "Oh, honey. You have a big surprise ahead!" I hate to burst any newlywed bubbles, but the truth is there will be times when you will wonder what on earth you were thinking committing yourself to this... this person you are bound to. You'll get over that feeling, though, and if you stick it out you'll be glad. Just like in natural childbirth.
2. Don't expect him to be perfect. He's not. (And neither are you.)
He's not always going to say and do the right thing. (And neither are you.) I read somewhere that every good wife is blind in one eye. If you can forgive him for being imperfect, you're halfway to a lifetime marriage.
3. Don't hold it against him when he's a jerk. Oh, yes. He will be. (And so will you.)
There will be times when he might forget your birthday or your anniversary or say something insensitive or downright cruel. That doesn't mean that he isn't the one for you or you should have never married him or any of those things. It means he's human. (And so are you.) Talk it out, work it out, and don't hold on to it.
4. Go to bed together.
There have been times in our marriage when one of us has stayed up later than the other working on bills, or household tasks, or reading a book, or watching a movie. Don't make this a habit. We are definitely happier and healthier when we go to bed together.
5. Remember that feelings ebb and flow.
Commitment lasts. You'll be deliriously happy. You'll be miserable. You'll be miffed. You'll be content. You'll be furious. All those feelings will come and go. Your commitment is what must never falter.
6. Be nice.
When you have the Bunco girls over, don't you vacuum and dust, touch up your nails, put on something nice, and greet them with a smile? Why do you do that? Because you want them to think you are cute? Because you want them think you care about them? Your husband deserves that too. Believe me, since I have 8 children, I know about those days when the 2 year old took off her diaper and painted the room with the contents therein, and the dog threw up on the floor, and the girls won't stop bickering. You can still be nice when those days come. You would do it for the Bunco girls, or if your pastor dropped by. You can do it for your husband.
There are times that these things will be extremely difficult to do. You will fail sometimes, and so will your husband. Repent, forgive, dust yourself off, and determine to do better.
When you have been married 25+ years, you will look back at all the times you've come through, good and bad, and you'll be amazed at your perseverance! You'll look at a picture of your younger selves, and, besides being embarrassed at the bad hair and all the mascara, you'll shake your head in wonder that those crazy kids actually made it this far!
Postscript: We have real a LOT of books on marriage, some great, some not so great. Our favorites are listed below: