WARREN, MI – By the time you read this I will have celebrated twelve years of wedded bliss to my wonderful wife Mary. It’s actually been forty-two years, but I’m just not sure bliss describes them all. Don’t get me wrong, there are no regrets, at least from me, it’s just that bliss doesn’t describe it all. According to dictionary.com, the definition of bliss is, supreme happiness; utter joy or contentment. So, I figure out of the last forty-two years, we’ve had at least twelve years of bliss and thirty years that were really good.
One thing is for sure, over the last forty-two years I have learned a few things. While I am not really an expert in all things marriage, I am a doctor and Mary tells me often that I am “certifiable.” So, I guess I might have some credibility in this area. Here are some things I have been learning so in David Letterman style I will countdown the top ten.
10. The union of marriage is the blending of two cultures.
The blending of cultures is a real adventure. Every family has its own culture and marriage brings those cultures together. Sometimes it’s like bringing together a vegan and a cannibal and that’s exciting. Enjoy the thrill!
9. Marriage takes practice.
Once the wedding is behind you and the honeymoon is over the real thing begins. As a newlywed, you may think you are God’s gift but the truth is you are clueless. Marriage is kind of like the climbing rope back in Junior High School gym. We were required to climb the rope to the top of the gym. It took me several tries over the entire span of my ninth-grade year. But finally, I was able to haul my big self up that rope. When it comes to marriage - keep climbing. You are going to have to practice a lot to figure out how best to be married.
8. Never lie to your spouse.
One lie leads to two and two leads to three. You get the idea. You are not smart enough to keep track and you will get caught. When you get caught in a lie your spouse is going to find it difficult to trust you. Believe it or not, trust is important in marriage, so, don’t lie.
7. Don’t always be honest.
This may seem like a contradiction it’s not. Guys when your wife asks “Does this make me look fat?” and it does, you cannot, must not, tell her the truth! Instead try this: “Honey your beauty transcends everything. Your beauty is so complete that nothing you wear could ever add to or take away from it!” Not only have you avoided a catastrophe you have scored some serious points. So, note number nine above and practice your lines so you’ll be ready when you need them.
6. Always practice the Pence Protections (as in Vice President Pence).
No this is not some new type of birth control. Well, I suppose it could be. Simply stated; guard your virtue by never being alone with the opposite sex in person or online. It may seem prudish but it will guarantee that you will never compromise your vows.
5. Your kids are a danger to your marriage.
Kids are a positive side effect of marriage but they can also put a strain on it. The good news is they are temporary. Well, sort of. They should eventually get out of your house. Don’t buy that business about “empty nest syndrome.” It’s really empty nest celebration. When the kids leave your spouse will still be there. Be sure your kids haven’t gotten between the two of you.
4. Pay attention.
When your spouse changes their hair color, or gets a new hairdo, or shaves their mustache you should let her know you noticed. Note to wives; If your husband trims his nose hair and toenails (or after 42 years his ear hair) you should let him know you noticed.
3. Don’t forget.
Special days are important. Birthdays, anniversaries, when you first met, the last time the Tigers won the world series, these are all important days that should be remembered and appropriately commemorated.
2. Forget about it.
1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love “does not keep a record of wrongs.” Guys, all those things your wife said to you during childbirth, forget about it. Wives, all those dumb things your husband has said to you because, well, they’re just not that bright, forget about it. It’s not worth holding a grudge.
1. Love your spouse.
Paul said it best in Ephesians 5:33; “each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.” Men, love your wives with a self-sacrificing love. Wives, give your husbands your unconditional respect. Paul summarizes everything he taught about marriage with those two ideas. These two things will lead to wedded bliss. Husband, love your wife. Wife, respect your husband.
That’s a few of the lessons I’ve been learning over the past forty-two years. I still have much to learn. But, I know this for sure it keeps getting better all the time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Larry Q. Allen is Senior Pastor of Warren Woods Baptist Church, in Warren, MI. He and Mary have been married for 42 years.