How to achieve 70 years of wedded bliss
Last weekend I had the privilege of celebrating my husband’s grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary. 70 years married! What an accomplishment, especially when considering that some research shows the average length of marriages in the U.S. last just 7 years. What’s more, this couple didn’t just make it to 70 years, but they still experience love and joy with each other after all those years. What’s the secret to long lasting and happy marriages? Having a strong foundation. What does this look like?
Putting God first: When couples or individuals say they put God at the center of their marriage, this doesn’t mean they ignore each other. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Through Christ’s love, they are able to see and love each other as we are created to do so. God gives us the perfect model of love.
"The Hebraic word for love in the bible, ialeph, ayin, is silent. It is actually just a sound – the sound of inhaling and exhaling. Throughout Scripture this word is used to describe the intimate connection that God desires to have with us and that we can have with our life partners. This kind of love is one in which we are so close to our beloved that we breath in the breath of the other. This closeness is described as panim el panim, which literally means face-to-face. The Christian faith affirms that God desires a breath-to-breath and face-to-face relationship with us. This, then, is the model for our love with our partners." - Created for Connection by Dr. Sue Johnson and Kenneth Sanderfer
When we’re able to follow this model, not only do we feel closer to God, but we have a more intimate and close connection with our lover. The security of this love (both Christ’s love and the love of our spouse), gives us the freedom to take risks in our relationships, to be vulnerable in sharing, and to be our authentic selves.
Making your marriage a priority: We live in a busy world, I get it. But when the busyness of life gets in the way of nurturing your relationship, it suffers. Our connection and closeness starts to diminish and this makes us susceptible to a host of problems. When couples start to experience distance and disconnect, sometimes all it takes is letting your partner know you miss him/her and spending time reconnecting. However, it’s not uncommon for these messages of “I miss you” to get twisted. Some people react with criticism or anger when they feel disconnected (I.e., “you’re always late getting home from work, why can’t you ever be home when you say you will?”). Other individuals withdraw in sadness or in response to the perceived attack. This can become a vicious cycle in which both partners feel like the other doesn’t care. What’s ironic is we “attack” or “withdraw” because we do care so very much - but these behaviors send a completely different message. Instead of it leading to compassion, understanding, and a reassurance of our partner’s love, we feel more distant from our partner and our needs (and our partner’s needs) go unmet. If you and your spouse are stuck in one of these cycles, marriage counseling can help you better understand this pattern and get to the root of the issue. To prevent from getting to this point, however, making your relationship a priority can go a long way.
My husband’s grandparents have 6 children, 21 grandchildren, and 51 great-grandchildren. To say their life was and is busy is an understatement. I’m certain it wasn’t always easy. What makes it easier is knowing they weren’t alone; they had God at the center of their marriage, they modeled and continue to model the love of Christ, and they are living witness of the joy that can be received when they made their marriage a priority.