What Are Some Secrets to Marriage and Ministry?
Patti and I celebrated 35 years of marriage together this week! We’ve come along way from newlyweds in seminary, followed by full-time ministry in San Diego.
Marriage and ministry can be tough on a couple, but it can also be the most incredible experience a husband and wife could ever imagine. We have experienced difficult seasons and learned much from less mature days. But without a doubt, we’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. We are still in love after all these years.
Patti and I were blessed to have great mentors in John and Margaret Maxwell. We could always ask questions if we needed to, but it was more about just watching how they treated each other. John always treats Margaret like a queen, and in his words, “loves to spoil her!” His generosity toward her always inspires me. Margaret always supports John in every way. Her loving devotion to John, and the wisdom she adds to anything that comes their way is amazing.
If you are a young couple, you don’t have to have a couple who mentors you formally; Just pick a couple who models a loving and healthy relationship and pay attention!
Marriage experts often talk about things such as communication, money and parenting to gain insight for a better marriage. So let me leave those to the experts, and I’ll take a different route. I want to offer a few thoughts not mentioned so often, and yet just might be three things that help you enjoy a deeply meaningful relationship for a lifetime.
1) Let it go.
I’m embarrassed that we fought about the small and even stupid things we argued over. They were dumb. They were little, inconsequential and didn’t matter. But you don’t know that then. They seemed huge in the moment.
Maturity lets you see things now that you couldn’t see the past. Maturity is the great salve and beautiful prize to marriage. Maturity allows you to give yourself fully to your spouse so love can be experienced deeper.
So how do you get there? Let it go! Submit to God and bow to your spouse. Don’t fuss about the little stuff. 9 out of 10 arguments are a waste of time. James 4:1-2 says we quarrel and fight because we don’t get our way. That’s it! Let it go! Save your energy for stuff that matters, and stuff that’s way more fun. If you really get stuck, see a counselor. Don’t try to solve everything alone.
2) Find your way.
Couples spend too much time trying to remake their spouse into something they prefer, rather than encouraging their spouse to become the person God wants them to be. If each of you concentrate on your own personal journey with God, your relationship together will gain so much more depth and dimension.
Romans 12:1-2 teaches us to live a life pleasing to God, and not to conform to the pattern of this world. Finding your way is not easy. Becoming the full and complete ‘you’ is challenging with all of life’s pressures, but the journey is worth it. Don’t conform to what the world wants, figure out who God wants you to be and go for it. You’ll avoid many regrets and you’ll experience so much more joy in your marriage relationship.
3) Keep on dancing.
I’m a type A, driven person. Patti once said: “Dan, you care more about everything than I care about anything!” That pretty much sums it up! God was gracious and kind to give me Patti. Everybody loves Patti. She is fun, laughs quickly and and brings joy. Patti makes holidays great and serves the family well with gifts of service and hospitality.
You don’t need lots of money, or even tons of time to laugh and find the lighter side. It’s more a way of life than what you do once a week on date night. Heck, Patti and I laugh about the silly things our little Havanese dog “Nacho” does on a daily basis. You don’t need much. Joy is a choice.
35 years ago we danced at our wedding, and we’re still dancing together today. You can do it too!
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