Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand. – Emily Kimbrough
I’m grateful for second chances.
More than 10 years ago it looked like my life with Mary Beth was going to end up on the wrong side of the half-of-all-marriages statistic. But through forgiveness, the willingness to change, and God’s grace, I was given a second chance – and so was our marriage.
As we approach our 29th wedding anniversary, we know what’s gotten us this far hasn’t been luck. It’s been hard work, the commitment to love intentionally and the awareness of knowing what our relationship needs to thrive.
Everyday my wife and I face difficult challenges and we celebrate life’s simple joys. The foundation we stand on as we experience these ups and downs are eight relationship must-haves, which make our love stronger with each passing year:
The glue that binds our hearts together is trust. Mary Beth and I are reliable in our actions and faithful in our promises. We’ve grown to count on each other to make certain the little things and the big things get done.
- Bring out the best
Rather than pointing out flaws, we try to acknowledge the best things in each other – and then encourage more of those things to come out. Mary Beth is the biggest fan of my writing and I cheer her on to be a compassionate, effective mental health provider.
- Effective communication
Staying away from hurtful words, addressing issues as they happen and opening up when needed all lead to positive talk in our marriage. There’s a certain advantage of knowing a person for 30 years – you get to know what the other person is thinking, and perhaps not saying. Using that knowledge to create a safe forum for communication resolves issues faster and leads the way to greater intimacy.
- Let the little things go
My mangling of the toothpaste tube and her time management challenges could end some relationships. But after surviving some of life’s most difficult challenges – our daughter’s near-fatal illness, Mary Beth’s brain surgery and the sudden loss of my brother – we know the little things really don’t matter.
- See the money the same way
My wife and I had a rare fight about money recently. The conflict stemmed from how to approach which bills to pay first. We seldom fight over money. In this case, it was more about me wanting to be right, and to prove a point, than it was over the actual dollars and cents.
After the telephone conversation ended, I felt restless. So, I sent Mary Beth this text message:
No more fighting over money. We’re better than that.
I took control of my irrational thoughts and agreed to her plan, which was the better option. When I got home from work, the barrier created by not seeing money the same way had been removed.
- Make time.
Like you, our days are crammed full. Between work schedules, Emily’s dance and rehearsal times and my writing commitments, 15-hour days are common. But no matter how crazy busy the day is, Mary Beth and I make time every night to spend time together. After all, what’s the purpose of all the busyness if we don’t stop to reflect on why we are doing what we are doing as we live our lives?
- Respect boundaries
No means no. Personal dreams are allowed. And respecting each other’s needs and realizing her needs are just as important as mine helps us set healthy boundaries. Our intent isn’t to change the other, but to celebrate the uniqueness that is melded together by Mary Beth being Mary Beth and by Alex being Alex.
- Share who you are
Mary Beth and I don’t have to be perfect to be loved; we just have to be honest. We’ve shared our dreams, our passions and we’ve even shared those things kept buried in place that never sees the light of day and either one of us has blinked. That honesty has paved the way to unconditional love, a love that will keep our relationship alive for the next 30 years, and forever.