15 Years of Marriage and Still Going Strong
Marriage can’t be controlled, but it can be guided. When I met my wife at church many years ago, I had no idea I’d been set on a path that would change my life forever. But sometimes life is made worthwhile by the most inconspicuous of moments. When I walked in that day, God orchestrated events that would draw me to my future wife. I remember fondly that, among a crowd of people, my eyes just immediately landed directly on her, and I thought, “I hope I get to meet her.” About five minutes later, I was sitting next to a gentleman I’d met about a month before, and he said, “Hey, Jeff. I want to introduce you to someone.” When I turned and looked, there was the woman I had picked out of a sea of faces.
We started talking, but then the service began, and we parted ways with the intention of connecting afterward. Church finished, but I quickly learned I wasn’t her only potential suitor. While we talked, all these other men kept coming up and intervening. I decided to let them have their opportunity, and I would find a way to reconnect with her in a more private setting — when we’d conversed earlier, she mentioned where she worked. So, being the young and ambitious man I was, I called her up at her job and asked her out. The rest is history.
Here we are over 15 years later, and our marriage continues to grow. We’re far from perfect, but what makes our relationship work is our submission to God; He makes us work. The Lord gives us the fuel, strength, and perspective to continually commit to each other. That relationship keeps us grounded and connected. Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges. We are broken people in a broken world, so our marriage needs help every day. That’s why we’ve implemented some structure into our lives that keeps us close to each other and God.
One way we do this is that most mornings we spend about 30 minutes together just connecting. It’s a critical time for us because we are raising four children, and homeschooling them, and leading our clinic, so we don’t get much time throughout the day to invest in each other. Another strategy we employ is something taught to us by local resident Dr. Roger Tirabassi called “the six A’s.” It’s been a great way for us to recognize each other’s needs. The first A stands for “appreciate,” and that means we both say one thing we appreciate about the other person. The second is “apology,” where we volunteer anything we feel we need to apologize for. The third stands for “apologize again,” so we ask each other if there is anything else that we need to apologize for. The fourth is “ask,” in which we ask if there is anything the other needs from us that day. The fifth represents “affection,” so we take time to demonstrate our love with a hug. The sixth and final A is “amen,” and we close in prayer. We don’t do it every day, but it provides a framework to thoughtfully and intentionally communicate with each other. Each of us is heard and understood (OK, usually understood). It’s a tool that makes our marriage stronger, and it could work for you, too.
This month, on Valentine’s Day or any other, take time to practice the six A’s with your loved one, or find another way to connect with them and express your love.