|Tammy taking a sliver out for me|
As many of you know, I'm preparing a marriage class to present at New Song church.
So, my antenna is up on this subject and marriage is on my mind quite a bit today.
I happen to know a little about being married, Tammy & I celebrated our 25th anniversary in April.
People see us together and they make all kinds of comments on how great our marriage is.
Some have actually said out loud that they envy us.
But. The marriage you see today, our outward love & affection, our teamwork, and deep commitment, the marriage we have now, this didn't come without a cost.
What you see today, isn't what we always had.
We were separated once, on the verge of divorce, papers drawn up and all.
Sadly, I had been arrested for domestic violence, three times.
No skills, no direction, no faith, and no hope. We have seen dark times.
But, we have been blessed in spite of these storms.
We beat all of the odds, especially by being married as teenagers and having kids before marriage.
We not only survived, we have thrived.
We don't just tolerate each other or overlook the idiosyncrasies that can get on our nerves.
We actually enjoy being with each other.
We miss each other when we are apart.
We laugh together too.
Therefore, Tammy and I remain optimistic when it comes to other marriages we see that are stagnant or in trouble. We often say something along these lines, "If God could turn our marriage around, then everyone has a chance."
So, how do you overcome tough times like ours, or perhaps deal with a selfish/callous spouse, or simply deal with stale years that are drama-free but are unfulfilling in your married life?
For Tammy and me, the first real catalyst was our faith and our faith community. God didn't work alone on us, He sent people into our lives to mentor and model for us what a healthy marriage is. Secondly, a key hinge in our marriage was a marriage enrichment seminar (a weekend marathon event) with Faulkner & Brecheen. Then alongside these, we shared a strong desire to grow personally. We've read all kinds of books on marriage, studied together the topic in a great college class on Christian counseling taught by Joe Brumfield, we went on to be certified by Family Dynamics to facilitate marriage seminars, and we were plain stubborn -- in a good way.
Having a great marriage takes hard work, but it's not too hard when you are in love. There are certain essentials that are non-negotiables to growing a healthy marriage -- beyond having mutual respect or open communication. Like what? Off the top of my head, I'd say having a spiritual core, being a lifelong learner, and surrounding yourself with people who want to see you both succeed.
Oh, one more. Your best friend -- is your spouse.