As I mentioned in my first post, there’s nothing quite like experience; and 20 years is plenty of time to learn a few things about marriage (click here to read Part 1). Here’s part 2 of “20 Lessons Learned After 20 Years of Marriage”:
4. Never stop dating her. We love the infamous song from the movie Dirty Dancing entitled, “The Time of My Life.” It was released in 1987 and was popular during our junior prom. To this day, every time I hear it I remember how I had to muster up the courage to ask Debbie to be my date for the prom, and how much fun we had that night. We really did have the time of our (young) lives. However, I had no idea back then at the age of 16 that continually having fun in our future marriage would be so vitally important. It is.
I’ve learned that dating was never intended to be a temporary thing – only utilized during the early stages or our relationship. Over the years I’ve learned that Debbie never grows tired of it, and it does wonders for your relationship. It makes her feel special, appreciated, and pursued; and it reminds me that wooing and winning her heart was never intended to be a one-time event – it’s a life-long process.
5. Growing up together. We were younger than most when we began dating. We were both juniors in high school. But this isn’t the main reason why I say that we’ve grown up together. The real reason is because of how our marriage quickly exposed our immaturities (pursuing real intimacy in marriage always does), and we’ve spent the last 20 years growing out of those immaturities together. Whether its how we respond when we don’t get what we want, or our unhealthy communication style when we get angry at each other, we’re still learning to grow up and become more like Jesus in every facet of our character. But I’m so grateful that we’re doing it together. It’s been said that marriage is the ultimate furnace, whereby God does his purifying work in us. I couldn’t agree more.
6. Together through all the ups and downs. This one isn’t about the ups and downs of our marriage-related issues (i.e., communication, forgiveness, etc.), but the ups and downs of the stuff surrounding our marriage. Think of the song “God Gave Me You” (written by Dave Barnes, performed by Blake Shelton) about the ups and downs of marriage. Here’s a sample:
I’ve been a walking heartache
I’ve made a mess of me
The person that I’ve been lately
Ain’t who I wanna be
But you stay here right beside me
Watch as the storm blows through
And I need you
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you
It’s true. Debbie has been right beside me through all the highs and all the lows of life the past 20 years; and I’ve been there for her. Regardless of what the issues or experiences were (career, family, health, money, emotions, etc.), we’ve learned the importance of being there for each other.
7. Loving and Learning. Unbeknownced to me on our wedding day, Debbie had the words “my promise to love and learn” inscribed on the inside of my wedding ring. It’s based upon one of our favorite songs entitled “Love and Learn” by Stephen Curtis Chapman; which basically says that marriage is hard, but it’s a commitment to never stop loving each other..and never stop learning how to love each other. My favorite line in the song is, “But there’s nothing we can’t get through, as long as we both hold on to the hand of God and each other, and take a lifetime to love and learn.”
I’ve provided the words and the actual song below. I encourage you to take to a moment to listen to the song as you follow along with the words.
Echoes of careless words and slamming doors
Are still ringing in the night
I’ve taken my side and you’ve taken yours
We’re both wrong and we’re both right
Once again misunderstanding has turned us into enemies
I will forgive you, will you forgive me?
Love and learn, that’s what we will do
Love and learn through the flood and through the flame
This world will turn and the seasons will change
But there’s nothing we can’t get through
As long as we both hold on to the hand of God and each other
And take a lifetime to love and learn
We start out believing we know love so well
But through the years we find
True love is a story only time can tell
And God has made this lifetime yours and mine
So until that day when one of us
Has to lay the other in the arms of Jesus
I will be with you and you will be with me