20 Years

Twenty years ago I was eagerly anticipating getting off work so I could head to the airport. I would board a plane from California to Maryland and while I was in route, my niece would be standing in for me at my wedding rehearsal. I’d be married in the morning.

After being picked up from the airport and sleeping fitfully during the night, I arrived early at the church so I would be walked through the ceremony. My instructions were simple: Walk down there, and stand.

Easy enough, but during the ceremony I realized it wasn’t enough. We’d be moving off the platform to light the candle and then move back onto the platform to finish the ceremony – no one had told me what steps to use.

That tidbit symbolizes what I knew about being married. Just go there, sign the paper, say the words. But if that is all you do, one day you will realize that’s not enough.

Since that day I’ve made conscious effort to find ways to have the best marriage possible. Over the past 20 years I’ve learned way more than I ever expected about marriage, children, fertility, and a laundry list of other things – and I’m happy to have been blessed by my wife.

Your marriage can be just as good – you don’t have to give into the temptation to make it all about you, nor do you have to feel neglected. Here’s three keys that have helped keep our marriage solid:

1. I invest in my marriage
Teri is the most important person to me – and my kids know it. They always take a back seat to her and, believe it or not, they enjoy (not always) the security found in that.

In addition, we spend time, doing this I enjoy and doing things she enjoys – and more often doing things we both enjoy. We laugh together, we dream together, and we listen to each other (sometimes for hours).

2. Legacy
My parents are divorced. My sisters are all divorced. One of my brothers are divorced. Some of my siblings children have been divorced. Divorce is like a parasite that is feasting on my family – but I will not let it touch my children.

Before we were married we talked about getting divorced – and that’s the only conversation that we’ve had about it. It’s simply not an option. Neither is misery – I don’t like to be miserable nor does she (does anyone?). So we work out our issues. It’s rarely easy but when you are committed to finding a solution, you’ll find one.

I want my boys to grow up and know what it looks like to have parents that are happily married. I want my grandchildren to see the same thing – and I want them to see grandparents who have been married for 50 years…and that won’t happen if we stop along the way.

3. Boundaries
This is probably one of the easiest things to do that is never done. Not done, it leaves an easy open hole for destruction.

If you don’t want flies in your house, you can buy bug spray and saturate the inside – or you can simply close the window (or use a screen). The latter is the easier – it’s the same with boundaries.

These may sound legalistic, but they work and they go along way to meeting my wife’s need to feel secure.

  • I speak lovingly about my wife.
  • I won’t be alone with someone of the opposite sex.
  • I won’t give a car ride alone to someone of the opposite sex (see above).
  • I won’t flirt with others.
  • I let Teri know when I’m going to be spending time with someone of the opposite sex, what we’re doing, and then let her know when we’re done.

No matter where you are in your marriage journey, you can make your marriage better by being intentional about your investment of time and energy, thinking about your legacy, and making sure you have solid boundaries.

Tonight, ask you wife what you do to make her feel secure – and how you could do better.