My husband and I recently celebrated out 22nd wedding anniversary.  5 kids, 2 weddings, and 2 grandkids later, we are still celebrating.   It seems more and more in this day and age that we are not the ‘norm’. Very few of my children’s friends have parents who are still married to each other.  I think that is so incredibly sad.

Before I go any further, let me just say that I am NOT JUDGING you if you have a “failed” relationship of any type.  I know that things happen, and I know there are valid reasons for divorce and broken relationships.  I am far from perfect, and would not dream of trying to tell you that my way is better in any way than yours.  My purpose in this little blog is to provide a little encouragement for whatever relationship(s) you may have.

So what is the key to a long and lasting relationship? Some people would say that the key is communication.  And I agree, that is a terribly important part. I can tell you, there have been times in our relationship, where no matter how hard we try, it seems we just aren’t communicating in the same language. Some people would have you believe that the key to a lasting relationship is a good, steady, physical relationship.  That certainly doesn’t hurt anything, but I don’t think that is the key. Maybe it is lots of money that is the key.  I know of plenty of rich people who are unhappy in their relationships.  And poor ones too, so  money is not the answer to a great relationship. Maybe faith and religion are what you need to hold your relationship together.  That is certainly good glue, and helps considerably. As a matter of fact, I would go so far as to say that it can take a great relationship, and make it even better.  My husband and I don’t share a common faith, yet. But we do at least respect each others beliefs and reasoning. Yes, there are lots of things that make marriages and relationships stronger and better. But I do believe there is one thing that ties all the others together, it is choice.  Yes, choice.

My husband and I do not have a perfect relationship.  We are BOTH imperfect humans, after all.  But every day I make the choice to love my husband.  Not because he is always easy to love. But because we made a commitment to each other. Actually, when he asked me to marry him, he made me promise ‘no divorces’. I’ve never regretted making that promise.  I have seen too many nasty divorces, and honestly, I just can’t think our marriage could ever get so bad that it would be worth that hassle. So I choose to love him every day.  And although I can be hard to put up with, he chooses to love me.

So what does ‘choosing to love’ look like? Sometimes we get so focused on what the other person is not doing for us, that we forget to focus on what we can do for them.  I’m not talking about the usual cooking him dinner, and doing his laundry kind of stuff.  I’m talking about intentionally showing love kind of stuff.  You can start as small as finding one good thing to compliment her on. (Even better if she overhears you tell someone else the compliment about her!) You can show him that you are thinking about him by picking up a small gift that you know he’ll love, or by doing one of his chores for him. Maybe you could write her a quick email or send her a text message.   It does take two people to make a relationship work.  But it can start with the actions of one person.

It’s funny that when a couple is ‘in love’ they frequently talk about how wonderful the other person is.  It seems that we focus on character traits…he’s funny, he’s thoughtful, he’s intelligent.  But after a while, you start to hear how horrible the other person is.  And the focus seems to be more on things they do (or don’t do)…he never buys me flowers anymore, he never compliments my cooking anymore, he always leaves his dirty socks on the floor. That is such an easy rut to fall into. If you’ve ever been with a group of women who start ‘husband bashing’ you know what I’m talking about.  But I think if you want to, it is just as easy to find build up your spouse, and a lot more beneficial.

I am not totally naive in thinking all marriages and relationships are like ours.  I know there are some really tough things people have to deal with.  It can be hard if you feel that you are the only one putting forth the effort. I have felt that way many times.  And when I do, it really helps to have a support system. I encourage you to find friends who are willing to build you up. Of course the number one best support system is to have a relationship with God.  When you realize how much he loves you, and is absolutely crazy about you, it makes it easier to not rely on a human to fulfill your need to be loved. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpassed knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 4:17-19

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