On our 17 year anniversary, my wife and I were asked, “What’s the secret to a long marriage?” Basically, it’s my wife’s extreme patience with me and her tolerance of my antics.
Just joking… well, kind of.
There are many pieces that go into building a strong relationship. It’s not really one thing that makes it work though, rather, it is many things. That being said, there are still a few simple words of wisdom that can help us along the way.
Deposit more than you withdrawal. We learned this during a marriage group we joined right after we got married. The video content was a little cheesy at times, but as in all things, there is wisdom to gained from just about everything if owe take on the mindset of a learner. The theme of this class was based on the idea that we all have a “love tank” inside of us. In our interactions with our partner, we are either filling up that tank (deposits), or we are emptying that tank (withdrawals).
Staying mindful of this simple idea has helped us stay strong for the past 17 years. Bonus point: Invest in your relationship. We attended a marriage class right off the bat.
Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. This is from the bible, Ephesians 4:26. “In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”
It is a verse about how to handle our anger when it develops. Part of the way to handle anger in a healthy manner, is to seak out the root of why we are angry in the first place. In almost every situation, the root cause of our anger comes down to what we received compared to what we feel we deserved. We get angry when we don’t get what we want.
We tried to take this literally. When an argument, tension, frustration, or disagreement comes up between my wife and I; we try our best to go to talk through it and go to sleep at peace. We haven’t pulled this off 100% of the time, but we have pulled it off most of the time. If you can put this into practice from the beginning of your relationship, it will help maintain perspective on what is important in your relationship.
This practice will also teach us how to be humble. Conflicts are resolved as pride decreases and humility increases. We can learn from each other if we are willing, and in learning, we remind ourselves that we do not know everything.
Bonus point: Personally, seeking to love each other as God loves us helps keep us in check.
Be aware of, and respect the space in a relationship. This is some of the greatest advice I’ve heard in the recent years, and it comes form a book by Rob and Kristen Bell titled The Zim Zum of Love. The entire book deals with this idea that our relationship is maintained by recognizing the space in and around that relationship. That space is sacred, and we need to learn how to engage it. I’m not going to try and summarize this book; you just have to read. It is a short, fun, and advice filled book.
Bonus point: Rob Bell is an amazing person. He has so much great content for life, from books to podcasts. Check him out.
We must be humble, we must be bold
We must protect, we must trust
We must forgive, we must seek forgiveness
We must be open, we must honest
We must be brave, we must be kind
We must put in the work, we must have fun
We must love.
It is all of this and so much more that go into a building and maintaining a lasting, thriving, and growing relationship. These final words are very simple:
If you love someone, treat them right.