35 yearsWell, we made it. So far, so good. My beautiful wife Donya and I have been married 35 years today. Thirty-five years! We are one year shy of having been married twice as long as we had been living when we said, “I do.”

(Sorry. I will be right back. I need to take a break and let that soak in a little.)

Anyways, where was I?

Oh yeah. Thirty-five years. That’s a long time. You learn a few things about marriage and relationships if you spend 35 years in one. At least, you should. If you don’t, God help you.

Well, I have. And I have decided to share one thing learned for each of the years we have been together. Here goes…

  1. Marriage doesn’t work. You have to work it. You have to determine to make it work. I once oversaw the merging of two church congregations. That was challenging. Merging two lives into one is infinitely more challenging.
  2. Toothpaste should be squeezed from the bottom up, but why quibble over something like that? Pick your battles wisely.
  3. Marriage is not 50/50. It is 100/100. Each is all in for the other. Musketeers, baby!
  4. Every relationship is dynamic, with a life of its own.
  5. A relationship will define itself if you give it time.
  6. “I’m sorry” is not said enough and when said it has too many qualifiers attached. “I’m sorry, but…” is just an excuse. “I’m sorry if you…” is a passive-aggressive way to put the blame on the other. “I’m sorry.” Period.
  7. All fights are born of selfishness. All of them. Every single one.
  8. A loving touch is better than the most poetic Hallmark card.
  9. Hallmark cards are pretty handy.
  10. Flowers matter.
  11. Chocolate matters.
  12. If you don’t feel that lump in your throat when you write on that card, if you don’t fret over just the right flowers, if you don’t go out of your way to learn which chocolate…if you are just using those as props in place of actual engagement and true devotion, none of it matters much.
  13. It isn’t all sunshine and roses. The sun sets and the rose grows among thorns.
  14. Magical moments are more magical because they are uncommon.
  15. Marriage is mostly made up of the mundane: trying to make the money outlast the month; doctor’s visits; crying babies; dirty diapers; dirty dishes; overtime; cutting the grass…
  16. Marriage is more than living together; it is doing life together…even the mundane part.
  17. Space is sometimes needed.
  18. If you beat your wife up, make her breakfast.
  19. If you beat your wife up any other way, get help.
  20. Accept the blame, even if it may not be totally your fault.
  21. Forgive. That isn’t easy. Look into forgiveness, what it really means. It is a costly venture. Forgiveness does not eliminate a debt or a misdeed. It absorbs it. If a lender forgives the debt, the lender is still out the money. Forgiveness is free, but it is not cheap.
  22. The grass ain’t gonna mow itself.
  23. The dishes don’t clean themselves.
  24. Kids are not indentured servants, but cleaning a dish or two and making their bed won’t warp their personalities.
  25. T-shirts should be laid flat, the sleeves folded over, then the shirt folded in thirds, flat and wrinkle-free.
  26. Good luck getting anyone in the house to fold your t-shirts that way. Do it yourself.
  27. Opposites attract. Or attack. Usually, one or the other.
  28. It means everything to your wife and kids to hear you pray.
  29. Be vulnerable.
  30. Handle your mate’s vulnerability with care.
  31. Just because you know your mate’s worst faults, that isn’t a license to share them on social media. Or anywhere else. Protect one another.
  32. Who cares if your Facebook page looks like a Leave It To Beaver montage? Who cares if everyone knows there’s no way your life is that perfect? It’s your life. Live it. Love it. Only share the part of it that warrants sharing.
  33. Picking nits is a bad habit.
  34. Stay! Marriage works when you are committed to its success and when you are both in it for the long haul, come what may.
  35. Last but not least… Jesus! Jesus first. Jesus last. Jesus most. Jesus as your example. Jesus as your instructor. Jesus as your confidant. Jesus as your power. Jesus as your passion. Don’t leave home without Him and never shut him out at home.

I am not listing these things because I conquered them all. Heck, I barely did any of it right. But I learned the truth of them anyways. I guess the real key to our marriage lasting has been the fact that God gave me a woman who was better than me and better than I deserved. My only contribution to its success was being wise enough to know that.