7 reasons we’re still married after 20 years
By Jonathan Howes
On May 20, my wife, Jennifer, and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. It's so obvious to me that God had the perfect plan in bringing us together.
Jennifer and I do not have a perfect marriage, but it is a pretty darn good one. There are many reasons we are still married after 20 years but here are 7.
1. We try to be the first to say, "I'm sorry". Fights and disagreements are inevitable. We apply Ephesians 4:26-27. It says, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold.” If we get into an argument, we resolve the conflict before we go to sleep, even if it means staying up until 3:00AM. Also, we try not to sweat the small stuff. There is no need to start WWIII over an un-replaced toilet paper roll or dirty clothes lying on the floor.
2. We do not order our family around the kids or their activities. The kids have never been the CEOs of our family. Although, I do feel like Jessie, our youngest, may call the shots sometimes. Our marriage has always been a higher priority than our kids. Our kids will come and go, but we will stay together for a lifetime.
3. We always keep the romance "hot". The key here is looking to meet your spouse's needs and not your own. In Willard F. Harley’s book, His Needs Her Needs, he explains that the top 5 needs of a husband and wife are completely different. If a husband or wife’s needs are not being met at home, he or she will look to someone else to have their needs met, which can lead to an affair. If you are meeting your spouse's needs, he or she will have no reason to look elsewhere. Jennifer and I work hard to put each other’s needs above our own.
4. We focus our marriage on Jesus Christ. If the husband and wife are growing closer to God, they will grow closer to one another. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” If Jesus Christ is the third strand of the marriage relationship, it makes the marriage much stronger. Marriage is tough for everyone, and I can only imagine how hard it would be without God’s help.
5. We do life together. Jennifer and I are not living two separate lives. She really is my best friend. Sure, I play basketball and golf with the guys. And she goes to the spa with friends. But most of the time we do things together. We walk. We meet for lunch. We watch TV shows together. We try and go on a date at least once a week without the kids.
6. We set proper boundaries. We are NEVER alone with someone of the opposite sex. This sounds extreme, but it's not. If you mess with fire, you will get burned. Also, we protect our time together. We protect family time. We spend most of our evenings together as a family. Our marriage and family is much more important than our careers. My family is a higher priority to me than the growth of Graystone Church. If Graystone doesn't make Outreach Magazine’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Churches in America list this year, I'm not going to lose any sleep. I'm married to Jennifer not the church.
7. The purpose of our marriage is so much more than us growing old together and living happily ever after. God brought us together for a reason and a purpose. God's plan for our lives is so much bigger than the two of us. It's not about our happiness or success. It is about God and bringing glory to Him with our lives and marriage. It’s an honor and a privilege for us to get to share life together fulfilling God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.
I hope this short list encourages and helps you in your marriage. I pray that you will stay committed to each other “as long as you both shall live”. And I pray that your marriage will bring God much honor and glory.
Jonathan Howes has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from Jacksonville State University and a Master in Divinity Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the lead pastor for Graystone Church. Locations include the Ozora Campus: 1551 Ozora Road | Loganville, GA 30052 and the Walton Campus: 723 N Broad St Monroe, GA 30655.