Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Expert advice: the key to a good marriage

I'm not an expert on very many things. English grammar, yes. Rearing red-headed boys, sort of. Taking care of family members who've had heart surgery, definitely.

There's one thing, though, that I've now done every single day for 26 years. So if lots of experience can make you an expert, I guess you could say I'm becoming an expert on marriage.

That's right: I was married on this day 26 years ago. 26 years!


And I'm going to tell you my secrets to a good, long-lived marriage. It's taken me a long time to learn them, but now that I know them, I'll share them with you. It's a short list:
  1. Learn to forgive.
  2. Seek forgiveness.
  3. Practice forgiveness.
That's it. Those are the secrets. Forgiveness is the key.

I've learned a few things the hard way. One thing I've learned is that you shouldn't take marriage advice from someone who's never had marital struggles. Does that sound counter-intuitive? Perhaps. But I've learned that it's true. It's quite easy for people whose marriage is all smooth sailing to THINK they know the secrets to a happy marriage. But I've learned that the best training for good sailing is to weather some storms and come out still afloat.

I used to think I knew the secret to a successful marriage. I was reared to strive for perfection in all that I did. I wasn't very good with forgiveness, because I believed that it would be better to avoid mistakes and not ever need forgiveness. I tried hard never to let God or my husband down, and I really thought my hard work would be the key.

I failed. I failed miserably. That didn't stop me from trying again, though, each new effort more valiant than the last. Stubbornly I clung to the thought that my marriage was different, that my husband and I were special. I just knew that God would honor my efforts and that we would be rewarded with an amazing marriage.

But I was wrong. Only after my marriage suffered some major crises and nearly came unraveled did I finally learn.

I am human. My husband is human. We are learning and growing and trying to be like Jesus, but we make mistakes. Sometimes we make really bad mistakes. And over the years, some of our mistakes have really, really hurt us. I've hurt him. He's hurt me. At times the pain has seemed unbearable.

But in the midst of the pain, here's what I've learned: With God's help, there is no hurt that cannot heal. There is no sin that can't be forgiven. God is powerful enough to redeem even the most difficult of situations.

Of course, there are times when one person doesn't want to be redeemed. I know that's true, and I'm so sad for people who find themselves in those situations. Sometimes there are spouses who must flee a marriage simply to protect themselves or their children.

But for those of us who have spouses who are willing to work with us, I go back to the list.
  1. Learn to forgive.
  2. Seek forgiveness.
  3. Practice forgiveness.
You will falter. You will fall. You will hurt and be hurt. But with true forgiveness, you can make it. (Colossians 1:9-14)

You will not live happily ever after. You will have times of pain of sorrow. But with the Lord's help, "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well" (Julian of Norwich).

**I'm joining Kelly at Kelly's Korner for her Marriage Advice party!

34 comments:

Love Being A Nonny said...

WOW! Perfectly said.

Love Being A Nonny said...

Or is it said perfectly?? :)

Rachel said...

I so totally agree with you! Happy anniversary! :)

Regina from The Queenly Abode said...

Wishing you a very happy anniversary! We are coming upon our 27th in Nov.
have a blessed day,
Regina

Aly @ mommie diaries said...

hi there, new reader here :) and i couldn't have come up with three better "tips" myself. in six short years of marriage i've learned the same - forgiveness is absolutely everything - and i will carry that through [Lord-willing] sixty more years.

happy anniversary to you!

Kathy@ Gone North said...

Very well written, thoughtful & truth - filled post.
Happy Anniversary!!
(we just had 36 this past weekend : )

Vivienne @ the V Spot said...

Well said! Happy anniversary and thanks for sharing. :)

At The Picket Fence said...

Absolutely beautiful, truth-filled post Richella! Thanks for being vulnerable and transparent and for sharing this with us. :-)
Vanessa

Beth@The Stories of A2Z said...

Happy Anniversary and an amen to forgiveness!

PVDela said...

So true, thank you. I remember being told that to have a wonderful husband and marriage you need to be a wonderful wife but I didn't realize what that really meant until about 6 months ago and now I know that the key is to be the forgiving wife so that I can have a forgiving husband.

Happy Anniversary.

His Doorkeeper said...

Richella, I think you are right on number 1, 2 and 3!!
And that goes for friends too!

Happy 26th Anniversary! We just celebrated our 40th and I can tell you it just gets sweeter as you grow older...something about the more history behind you the more it binds you together!! Or maybe you just wouldn't want to trade horses in mid stream!! har

Great post!

Leslie said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!
26 YEARS!
Mark and I are married almost 22 years. What you have said is true.
Without forgiveness, comes bitterness.
Our marriage has suffered many bumps and bruises, too.
But, if I cannot offer grace, why should I expect it when I need some?
Being married has actually been (next to knowing Christ, and having children) the best thing that has ever happened to me on this planet :)
Let's praise God for our husbands that want to serve and follow Christ!
HUGS and 126 more years to you and Jack!
Love,
me
P.S. I'd better get to see you on July 2nd-ish weekend. ;)

Crystal @ Ordinary Days said...

Nicely said. Happy Anniversary! Forgiveness is definitely a hard thing. I go back to Grace which is a hard thing for me to wrap my brain around, too. Still learning here...:)

Scooper said...

I cried at this one. Because you're so right and I desperately needed this wisdom today. Really, you have no idea. Thank you for being real. And wise. Love you!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Happy Anniversary, Richella!!! What a beautiful post...and such wise advice. Loved the wedding photo!

Paula said...

Happy Anniversary! You look too young to have been married 26 years!

Anonymous said...

What wonderful words of wisdom. Thanks so much for sharing and Happy Anniversary!

~Kathryn

Jen said...

Happy Anniversary! What a beautiful post. I agree with every thing you said. I've been married 32 years this year.

Jeannette

Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side said...

Happy, happy anniversary, Richella (and Jack!)! It feels like such an accomplishment in this day and age, doesn't it? I love the advice you give--so true.

Enjoy your day!

Southern Lady said...

Beautiful post...and so true! Happy Anniversary. Carla

New Every Morning said...

Great advice, friend!
Congrats to you and your sweet hubby, too!

Debbie said...

Happy Anniversary to you and your hubby! Congrats on 26 years together. And I have to agree with your marriage advice totally. Forgiveness is a biggie! And it is so important. I've seen far too many women end up bitter and disappointed simply because they never learned to forgive. We are human and we all make mistakes.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me on Heart Choices. Since I returned to full time work, I've been remiss in visiting many of my favorite blogs including yours. I'm so glad I was able to stop by today on this special day for you and your husband. Btw, Greg and I will celebrate 27 years of marriage in November. And I have to admit that marriage takes lots of work. But it's worth it.

blessings and love,
Debbie

Bonita said...

Well spoken, Richella! Forgiveness truly is the key. One fallible human married to another fallible human can't help but stir up a little trouble now and then.

Happy Anniversary, sweet friend! Hope this one is extra special!

jennibell said...

AMEN!!!!!!!!! I have seen some heavy-duty forgiving in my life and those marriages are inspiration. We are almost 16 yrs in (this Friday!) and I truly can't add to this list without making it burdensome. Thank you for the to-the-point message/reminder.
Happy Anniversary!

Beverly @ The Buzz said...

Happy anniversary a little late. Great advice for everyone!

FrouFrouBritches said...

Happy Anniversary (a little late)!!!! Thanks for sharing the secret. I know several people going through rough times in their marriage that would REALLY benefit from reading this.

melissa * 320 Sycamore said...

Happy (late) Anniversary! You are such a wise woman. It is *the key* and I'm still learning it. Thank you for sharing your insights~I love them.

Leah said...

Found your blog through Kelly! Love it. Happy Anniversary, and you are so right. Forgiveness is so important. I, too, am a perfectionist and that can be hard on a marriage. Great advice!

Kimberly said...

Happy Anniversary! that is an accomplishment. I will be married 23 next month. Wishing you a happy day!

BerryMorins Bits & Tips said...

Congratulations!

Clementsville: Population of 4! said...

Happy Anniversary and such a beautiful post!!! Could not of been said better!

Farmer's Wyfe said...

Wow,so well said...and true!! After all, there is no perfect marriages, IS there? Thank you. I'm a new follower. :)

Amiee said...

What a beautiful pic of you two on your wedding day! Thanks for the reminder to forgive.

Designs By Pinky said...

You are right. It takes forgiveness on BOTH sides. We have been married for 44 years and it has been an up and down road but it has been quite an adventure too! XO, Pinky

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