I met my husband in college. We met at Wake Forest University (GO DEACS!!) in the early 1990s. We started dating on October 3, 1992, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. We were married six years later on October 3, 1998. This year, we’ll be celebrating our fifteenth and twenty-first anniversaries respectively. That’s a long damn time, y’all. A long damn time.
We are asked quite often how we do it. How have we managed to stay together all these years … through the ups and downs, the health scares, the birth of our son, the deaths of loved ones, the loss of jobs, the start of businesses, through any and everything?
Well, that’s a good question. While we have many married friends, we also have many friends whose marriages didn’t survive. So I’ve thought about it … about how we answer those folks who question why we are still together, who look to us for a tidbit of advice, and who look for something to take back and apply to their own relationships. Here’s what I’ve determined.
1 We’re both just stubborn as hell. Stubborn may not be a characteristic you would think would work in a marriage, but it works for us. We made a promise to each other. We are in this thing for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer. We in it to win it, dog gonnit. Sure, we have our problems. Of course, we don’t always agree on issues. I love my husband dearly and I know he loves me, but there are times when he wears on my nerves, and I know for a fact I can wear on his. But we made a commitment to each other, and we meant it. Period. That means whatever our issues are; we’re going to work ‘em out. It can get uncomfortable. Sometimes feelings or pride can get hurt, but we look at it like this. It’s much better to deal with our problems head-on than to let lawyers and judges decide the fate of our lives. Divorce is not an option for us.
2 If all else fails, we have our faith to fall back on. My husband is the son of a preacher man, and I grew up in a home with a strong religious background. We both grew up in the church. While we haven’t always been as faithful to God as He’s been to us, we know where our help comes from. We pray for each other, our relationship, and our family. We worship together. We read His word. There’s some good relationship advice in the Bible, y’all. Check it out, and make God a part of your married life.
3 We have to make the effort to find “couple time”. Our lives are hectic. We have a 9-year-old son whose social and extra-curricular calendars keep us on the move. We are expecting our second child this June, so we’ve been spending lots of time lately preparing for her arrival. My husband and I both work full-time jobs, but we also own our own businesses. Our parents are aging and have had their share of medical issues over the recent years, and we have to make time for them. The list goes on and on. There are so many things that will keep us apart if we allow them to, but we simply don’t. We’ve found that if we don’t make the time just for us, it can get a little tense back at the house. My husband and I have a lot of the same interests. We love music and concerts, we love dining out, and we love going to the movies. While we may not go out together as often as we would like, when we feel things getting away from us, we call up our babysitter and go on a date night. We make time just for us. It keeps us connected, it helps focused on us, and it keeps peace in our home.
4 We also make time for ourselves as individuals. Again, I love my husband and I know he loves me. But let’s face it … we can’t be up under each other all the time. We’d drive each other crazy. It’s okay. Really. It’s okay to do things without your spouse. Every year twice a year, my husband gets together with some of his hometown or college buddies for a weekend away. Likewise, there are times when I have girls’ night out or weekend get-aways with my crew. We come back home refreshed. We’ve also found that we come back to someone who missed us. It’s true what they say. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
5 Let’s talk about sex for a minute, y’all. Do it … regularly and frequently. No excuses. No faked headaches. No “lemme take a nap first”. JUST DO IT. You’d be surprised how those tense moments can become all but forgotten after a good healthy round of lovemaking. In the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
I think we’re going to make it. Bottom line … happily ever after is exactly what you make it. Plain and simple. Marriage is hard work, and you have to have your mind made up even before you say “I do” that you will do the work. You WILL put in the work to make your happily ever after a reality. You WILL commit yourself to working with and loving your mate for a lifetime. You WILL work to keep and hold those vows you take before God as sacred. You WILL work on making your marriage WORK. Failure is not an option.