40 Lesson From 40 Years of Marriage: Part 3 of 4

40 Lesson From 40 Years of Marriage: Part 3 of 4

21. Suffering will either drive you apart, or it will be used by God to merge you together.

Scripture teaches that our response to God and His Word is the difference-maker in how we handle suffering. You and your spouse have to decide to suffer together rather than falling apart.


22. Men and women process suffering very differently.

It is a wise husband who gives his wife space and grace to process loss and suffering differently from how he processes it. After Barbara recovered from several near-death experiences when her heart raced over 300 beats a minute, I remember wanting her to flip a switch and move on with life. That was easy for me to say. I hadn’t been the one who they took away in an ambulance with a heart beating so fast that the bed was shaking.


23. Loss is a part of life and increases as we age.

How you and your spouse process loss, by faith, will determine whether you grow old and bless others, giving them life, or whether you grow old and curse others, becoming a bitter crotchety old person.

Process loss well.


24. Communication is the life-giver of a relationship. 

Simply put, find a way to get five, ten, fifteen minutes together to talk every day. Turn the TV off, set the computer aside, take a walk, and just talk with each other.

Barbara and I used to do this and walk in our garden. The kids thought we were just going out there to see the flowers bloom. We were going out there to get away from them, so we could have a complete sentence between each other.


25. No shepherd can lead any faster than the sheep can follow. 

You are the guardian of your marriage and family’s direction and vision. C. H. Spurgeon said, “It was by perseverance the snail reached the ark.” Sliming my way to the finish line is the great hope for me as the spiritual leader of my family. After you fail (and you will), get back up.

When the kids were young, our family devotionals were chaos—flipping peas, spilling milk, crawling under the table. Who knows what they heard? No shepherd can lead any faster than the sheep can follow.


26. Maximize your wife’s talents, gifts, experience, and passion as you would an Olympic athlete. 

Ephesians 5 talks to men about loving their wives as they love their own bodies. Help your wife accomplish everything that God has in mind for her.

Do an inventory of her gifts, her talents, her passions. What motivates her? What demotivates her? Pray for her and her vision. What are her core competencies? Dream some dreams together, and don’t wait until you’re in the empty nest to dream the dreams. Start dreaming even when you’re building your family.


27. Wives, your respect will fuel your husband, and your contempt will empty his tank. 

Ephesians 5:33 commands wives to respect their husbands. Ladies, keep in mind that 93 percent of all communication is non-verbal. How are you expressing belief in your man non-verbally?

Barbara’s belief in me as a man has helped me excel. It’s not a blind belief, but it’s a belief that speaks the truth in love.


28: Women spell romance differently than men. 

Women spell romance r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-i-p. But men spell it: s-e-x. God, in His cosmic genius, has brought two very different people together in marriage who are to dance together. And what an interesting dance when I think that I understand my wife. For example, I bring her roses, and I write her a note, and I fix dinner, and put the kids to bed, and that equals sex.

So, as a man, I begin to think, “A+B+C=D. It did last night.” So, I try it again the next night or perhaps a few nights later. Roses, a nice meal, put the kids to bed—“Huh?” Nada. “Huh?”

So, I went to Barbara: “What’s the deal? You changed the equation."

Would you like to know what she said: “As a woman, I don’t want to be reduced to an equation. I want to be pursued as a person relationally.”


29. Your marriage must be built to outlast the kids. 

Our romance gave us children, and our children tried to steal our romance.

Barbara and I had to make an effort to have special dinners together and go on short getaways two or three times a year. We fought to keep these times on the schedule. It was a hassle finding a babysitter, but time alone together was worth it.


30. Build too many guardrails around your relationship rather than too few. 

Men, don’t trust yourself alone with the opposite sex. I have asked people to go out of their way to take me to speaking engagements instead of one woman taking me. I’ve got a friend who won’t get in an elevator alone with a woman. You may say that’s a little extreme. Let me tell you something. Given the fallout today in ministry, I’m not sure it’s extreme.

40 Lesson From 40 Years of Marriage: Part 3 of 4

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