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For Better Or For Worse

We all know that marriage is not 100% bliss, or a life without struggles. There are highs and lows over the years, and part of these highs and lows come from the constant curveballs that life seems to throw our way. Looking back over the years, A LOT has happened in our 12 years. We have experienced times where money was great, and some lean times. We have 4 amazing kids, but spent a whirlwind year with two premature babies and the struggles that can come with that. We have moved from Texas to Oklahoma, experienced layoffs and hundreds of constant variables that occur over the years.

Wedding Rings

Life has not always been fair and there have been times where we have had to work to not let the outside stresses affect our marriage. At times, we succeed greatly at this, and other times not so much. What we have discovered is that it is those times of stress and pressure that really show what kind of marriage we have.

This is where the phrase “Marriage is Work” comes into play. A healthy, thriving marriage is not for the lazy. Each spouse must be willing to pull more than their fair share of the load when struggles, or a difficult season, arrive. To be honest, this is what family is suppose to be all about. We encourage each other, lift each other up and at times even carry each other on our backs for a season.

The beauty of marriage is that we see each other for who we really are. We understand our spouse’s flaws as well all the amazing things they can do. The love that we have for each other is based upon the reality of life and daily choice we must make to choose love over all the negative emotions that become available. We choose love in times of excess and we choose love in times in lack. We choose love in the passionate times, and love when we honestly don’t feel like loving each other.

When we got married, we made a decision to love each other in the good times and the bad times. We promised our devotion for better or for worse. This means we cannot go running for the hills when the worse times happen. No, that is when we discover what true, unconditional love is all about.

Anyone can get married, but as we have seen in Hollywood, some marriages can’t even make it past a few months. What we want is a marriage that is going to last a lifetime. That means we must guard and protect our marriage. No obstacle we face is important enough to jeopardize our marriage.

For us to achieve that goal of growing old together, we must constantly work at our relationship to ensure it thrives through the better and the worst! I encourage you to think long-term for your marriage. Work with your spouse to have the type of marriage you would wish for your children.

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Growing Old Together

Heather and I have been married almost 12 years now. We got married young, Heather was 19 and I was 23. In some ways, that seems like a lifetime ago. The time has flown by so fast that many times it also seems like yesterday I saw her walking down the isle in her wedding dress.

It sounds like a cliche, but I am crazier about my wife now than I was 12 years ago, and I didn’t think that was possible. Heather is literally my dream come true, and more than I ever imagined a wife could be. She is the person that I want to grow old with. I want to be a madly in love 90-year-old man trying to steal a kiss from a smoking hot 86-year-old Heather.

I want us to grow old together, and I work hard every day to make sure that dream comes true.

One of my favorite phrases is, “Begin your journey with the end in mind.” What that means is that when you start out on a task, project or event, go into that task with your eyes on the desired result. That focused mindset helps you to overcome the obstacles and variables that inevitably are thrown your way.

This phrase is so incredibly powerful, and vital to the success of our marriages. We have to meet our spouses at the alter with the intention of growing old together. We have to be so focused on that goal/dream that we refuse to allow any obstacle, hard time, financial issues, WHATEVER…. jeopardize that dream.

This is not easy. Keeping a marriage thriving takes work, sacrifice, compromise, forgiveness, tolerance and then MORE WORK. The amazing thing is that all of this is so worth it. The relationship that I have with Heather is so important to me, that I guard and protect it. I value her and I refuse to let anything come in the way of our relationship.

We all have issues that we deal with. One of the biggest marriage killers is pride/selfishness. We stop seeing our marriage a joint, team effort and start to think of ourselves more as two individuals. One person may feel neglected in one way, or just have a me-first mentality that is crippling to a marriage. Selfishness opens the door for unfaithfulness, which destroys a marriage.

A healthy marriage is never about one person. If I am thriving, but Heather is struggling, then our marriage is struggling. As her husband, it is my responsibility to think of Heather first, me second. This isn’t always fun. I do not always enjoy the long list of honeydo’s my wife comes up with, or watching whatever estrogen filled chick-flick that just came out. You know what though, those things are important to Heather. When I complete a list of things she wants done, it shows Heather that I value what is important to her, and my words have actions.

Another thing that can cripple a marriage is letting your guard down. I have a very strict line in my professional life that cannot be crossed. I avoid certain topics with female coworkers and never allow myself to be put in the position to where someone can question my behavior with a coworker. I keep that area of my life above reproach. I have seen coworkers cross the lines of appropriate behavior and it destroyed their marriage. You know what, it all starts with one step over that line. One step at a time, the coworker walked herself into an affair and divorce.

We have to keep our guard up and not become lazy. I think that is the biggest key to my future with Heather. I refuse to become complacent and take Heather for granted.  That means that as her husband, it is my duty to take full advantage of every opportunity I have to show her how much I love her.

I want to grow old with this amazing lady and watch her hold our grand-kids one day. I want to sit and hold her hand on a porch swing when we are in our 70′s. I want us to grow old together, and I work hard every day to make sure that dream comes true.

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What Is The Foundation Of Your Marriage?

There are two, newer communities in the Oklahoma City area that were built within the last ten years. These houses look really nice from the street. Going inside you see the new carpet, granite counter tops, tiled bathrooms and overall new “feel” make these houses really desirable. In fact, at first glance they look perfect.

foundation for your marriage

The problem is, there are major issues with the house that you cannot see. The builder decided to cut corners and not cure the foundation in correctly. As a result, the houses slowly began to show signs of major issues. Cracks began to appear on the walls. In some houses the cracks appeared small. Other houses looked like an earthquake had threatened to rip the house into two pieces.

I find it very interesting how similar this situation is to our marriages. When we first get married, the marriage has a fresh and new feel. The honeymoon stage is full of passion, bliss and love tinted glasses. Over time, the marriage begins to settle and take shape. The real world sets in, in-laws rear their heads, and children begin to appear. This is the moment that foundation of your marriage begins to be revealed.

Not every marriage is created identically. What works for one couple will not work for every couple. What the common denominator is that each marriage must have stable footing. For us, that foundation is two-part. First and foremost, we have placed God as the foundation for our marriage. In fact, the times when we may have dipped in our walk with God, we can look back and see the negative effect that has had on our marriage.

We place God as the priority and head over our marriage and family. His word and His will are the guide that we use to chart the paths we take. In times if joy and frustration, we maintain Him as our center and it has worked well for us. We do our best to reflect His love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness in our marriage.

The second part of our foundation is our friendship. It may sound like a cliche, but we actually really, really like each other. When we say we are best friends, we mean it. We love to just sit and talk over a cup of coffee. We go to the grocery store together. I sit in the car patiently as she runs all her errands on my day off. When i am not working, I want to be at home with Heather. When she goes on trips away for a night or two, I genuinely miss her.

When I hear couples talk about their desire for the weekend to end so they can go to work and get away from their spouse, it saddens me. Marriage should never be something that we want to escape from. Just like a house may begin to show wear and tear over time, we have to make the commitment to continually repair and restore our marriage. Any house, no matter how magnificent, will need upkeep. We must have the same approach to our marriages.

I encourage you to ask the question, “What Is The Foundation Of Your Marriage?” Answer it honestly. If you are not satisfied with your answer, then take steps to correct the issue. The most important investment you will make in your lifetime is the commitment you made to your spouse. Honor that like you do the investment you made in purchasing a home. Guard it, keep it safe, work on it constantly and see it thrive over the years.

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