#1 predictor for a happy marriage…

DOCKS

Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid! ~Robert Browning

DOCKS CoupleIt was late in the afternoon and a cool, blustery breeze was blowing across Lake Washington. The man and woman arrived at the same time we did.

While we meandered our way out onto the long dock reading historical markers and marveling at seaplanes coming in for smooth landings, an older couple strolled hand-in-hand slowly past us. One labored step after the other until they arrived at their destination together.

DOCKS PLANE

The four of us — my Michael and me and my son and his precious love — had just begun a week’s visit together that would prove pure magic and leave us longing for more, but this couple was on the final leg of their earthly and marital journey.

We talked and laughed as this man and wife traveled silently in a serene pace that comes from a lifetime of holding hands and holding on during better and worse. They so charmed my heart that as they turned to pass us on their way back I approached them.

“The two of you look so sweet together I just had to say hello.”

The elderly gent with a twinkle in his blue eyes replied, “The four of you look so sweet together, too!”

DOCKS Four of us

And his smile invited further chat and I inquired how long they had been married.

“Sixty-eight years,” came his humble reply as he looked lovingly at the white-haired beauty who had held his hand and his heart for nearly seven decades.

A lifetime of love and probably loss and everything in between and my heart skipped a beat.

With joy, respect and a certain small ache because my Michael and I married later after many a dark chapter and we will never know what it’s like to find each other young and grow together from youth, birthing babies and growing a family. But with open, willing hearts we have learned much since marrying and gratitude for our marriage — the sweetest blessing this side of salvation — pushed aside momentary wistfulness and I breathed in the gift of the moment reflecting on the last four years as husband and wife.

And how we’ve grown and grown-up. Defied the odds for re-marrieds. Conquered demons from the past by clinging to God. And each day wrapping arms around each other in support, cheering each other on as we cultivate a new good harvest with the seeds of compassion, understanding, patience and always lots of love.

Blessing God who joined us unexpectedly and keeps us together as the newlywed years one to five unfold where so much is worked through and a depth of unity emerges from two distinct and separate individuals melding, and rough edges smoothing, and all the pieces fitting whole and holy making sense when for so long so much had nearly beat us senseless.

But God.

He fills and our cup runneth over.

So no matter where you are in your marital journey, take your spouse’s hand and hold on tight. And keep walking forward one step, one day at a time. For marriage is a delicious gift from God both mysterious and magical, adding and subtracting until the sum of the parts far surpasses any singular hopes and dreams.

Even if you’re in a place with circumstances hard and it seems like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, don’t give up. Look up. Fall down on your knees. Surrender your heart to God. Ask for help. And believe that help comes with mercies new each morning as you do marriage and life God’s way.

LAKE WASHINGTON

And let these five tips help you hold onto and grow your marriage happy and healthy till the end.

1.This above all — maintain a teachable heart! A Focus on the Family radio show once said that the #1 predictor of lifelong marital success is both partners having a humble, teachable heart. So cultivate humility. Ask for and accept marital advice. None of us knows it all. We can always learn more. So find a mentor or mentor couple. Change. Grow. Last!

2.Handle your marriage with tender, loving care. Don’t be lazy or thoughtless. Go the extra mile to let your spouse know they are the most important person in the world to you.

3.Be your mate’s #1 cheerleader. Give him your support in word and action. Help her become all God wants her to be.

4.Your marriage is a life long love affair that must come first before the kids. Children grow up and leave but your husband is your companion for all of your days.

5.Use C-words like commit, choose, covenant. Never use the D-word!

Sheila Signature Reduced

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