Nesting Place held its "31 Days" challenge, and my contribution was "31 Days to a Great Marriage," and I'd like to share it with all of our WOMANTalk girlfriends.
After many years of marriage my husband, Duane and I, have learned a few things about what can not only make marriage a life-long blessing, but help a husband and wife get through some of the greatest challenges, greatest adventures, greatest heartaches, and just plain life experiences we all go through, and have them work together for good. This has been the case for us, and I'd love to share some of them with you.
So, let's begin today with...
DAY 1: TO A GREAT MARRIAGE - Start at the Beginning & Make a List
No, not a list of what needs to change - but a list of (31) wonderful things about your husband that made you fall in love with him in the first place.
And then, beginning today, and every day this month, tell him one of them from your list (either text it, call him, write a note and leave it where he drops his keys when he gets home from work, etc....be creative).
It might sound or read something like this...
Honey, just wanted to let you know that I was thinking about you and how much I appreciate_____________________about you. I'm so glad we got married ___ years ago! xoxox Love, Me
No matter where your marriage is now on the scale of 'great,' this will not only remind you why you fell in love with your husband; but it will be a balm to his day. Who doesn't feel better after hearing that they are appreciated and loved? It will jog his own memories, and start you both on the path to remembering why you chose to go through life together, and recapturing afresh that first love.
Who knows where this, and the next 30 days, will lead. For sure, it will be good.
GO HERE TO THE ENTIRE 31 Days to a Great Marriage, for free.
An old illustration about real people my husband, Duane, likes to use when speaking to groups about the importance of family and the very real consequences, good or bad, of who you marry…
The Family of Max Jukes
A man of no principle
Married a girl of like character in 1677
Among his known descendents, 1200 were studied:
310 were professional beggars
440 had lives physically wrecked by debauchery and uncleanliness
130 were sent to prison for an average of 13 years each
7 were murderers
100 were alcoholics
60 were habitual thieves
190 were prostitutes
Only 20 out of the 1200 had ever gainful employment (the rest were either criminals or lived on state aid.
This notorious clan cost the state of New York a total of $1,200,000 in welfare and custodial charges – back then.
The Family of Jonathan Edwards
A man from a good Christian family
Married a girl of like character
From among his traceable 1400 descendants came:
13 college presidents
65 college professors
100 lawyers and a dean of an outstanding law school
66 physicians and a dean of a medical school
300 clergymen, missionaries and theological professors
80 holders of public office:
Mayors of large cities
3 U.S. Senators
1 Controller of the U.S. Treasury
1 Vice-President of the United States
The family wrote 135 books.
Speaks for itself, doesn't it?
When something happens to your man it affects you. Like the incident my husband Duane had with his heart on the Saturday before Christmas (See what happened here). Well, I wrote this article when we celebrated his birthday a year ago and thought I’d share it with you to remind you to celebrate your man…now.
This is Duane. We just celebrated his birthday with a surprise party. And boy was he surprised! (Stay with me, this is not just a feel good piece, I have an important point to make). I was able to locate some of his old buddies from years ago, one he hasn't seen in 15 years. Our son, David, put together an awesome power-point/video 'This is your Life, Dad' presentation, and friends from the various 'arenas' of Duane's life 'roasted' him. Although, most chose to talk about what Duane has meant to their lives.
We had to be pretty creative to pull this off because Duane doesn't miss a thing! We started two weeks earlier by celebrating with our sons and their families, first with Johnny and Joi, Zack and Jesse at their home and then the following week at David and Jean's with Micah and Tyler. (Did I tell you we have 4 beautiful grandsons - 4 babies in the last 5 years!)
Then I told Duane I had something special planned in San Francisco just for he and I, and that he was to meet me at 2:30 that day because I had to help out with something in the morning, and then we'd take off from there. So he was not expecting a thing other than what I had planned for the two of us.
When he arrived at the party he didn’t expect, and everyone yelled, "Surprise!" all he did was keep saying, "Oh, my gosh...oh, my gosh" as he saw everyone who had come. We had so much fun and those who were there still talk about it, both because of the fun of surprising him, and the impact David's presentation and the comments by friends had on them personally.
It was also a very touching time. Even some of the men cried along with the women. Why? Well, I think because not only was it truly touching, but because men seldom are recognized for what their lives have meant to us...which is a very important value to men.
When was the last time you told your husband (or the other men in your life, your brother, father) the impact their life has had on you? How much you appreciate their contribution to your life? As a matter of fact, I think we need a new holiday just to tell those close to us while they're still alive how much they mean to us (rather than waiting until their funeral to tell others).
One phrase that kept coming up from those who spoke about Duane (can I brag on him a little?) was that he is a man of honor, and faithfulness, and a model to young men who need to know what it means to be a man. I think you can see why the men were emotionally moved along with Duane.,,they would like to hear the same kind of genuinely heart-felt things not only said, but thought, about them as well.
So, why am I sharing all this with you? Because I want to encourage you to celebrate your man, now. Do something special for him in this regards. Don't wait to celebrate his life.
One day while at the radio studio, I was talking with two young, single men who were producing a show, and the subject of marriage came up. When they found out how long my husband and I have been married…and that we are still sincerely in love…their response was noteworthy.
They were at the same time genuinely congratulatory and really surprised.
Congratulatory because…marriages that have lasted as long as ours is not the norm.
Surprised…because we were still in love…romantically in love…after all these years.
There is a universal recognition of the accomplishment it takes to have a long, successful marriage. Accomplishment, not just because of longevity, but because of quality.
I believe that most couples get married with the conviction that their love will last forever.
Unfortunately, for way too many couples, this is not the case. Not only do half of all marriages end in divorce today, but according to a recent poll, half of the women who are now married would like to get out of their marriages. Why would that be?
Well, for some women abusive relationships qualify their desire to be out of their marriages, but for the majority of those who want out I believe it has to do with something else. That something else I would venture to say has to do with unrealized or unrealistic expectations…and cultural conditioning.
A good question to ask is which came first? Unrealistic expectations or cultural conditioning? In other words…have the ‘desperate housewives’ or ‘sex in the city’ or other unhealthy-for-marriage modern models had a major effect on couples today, or were marriages entered in to with expectations that were unrealistic?
We’ll explore this question more in future articles, but since February is the month of Valentines, let’s reverse the order and give some suggestions of proven solutions for building a healthy, long and satisfying marriage first.
There is no better gift you can give your marriage than to decide to rediscover the mutual love and commitment you had when you said “I do.” Remember, a successful marriage not only takes love, it takes work…the work of overlooking weaknesses, of forgiving, of respecting, of sacrificing, of making the effort to keep the romance alive…everyday.
Here are a few resources I can highly recommend to get you started:
The Marriage Course – internationally
The Marriage Course – SF Bay AreaA Weekend to Remember
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