In just two short weeks Audley and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. I never thought I could love this man of mine any more than I did on the day we said “I Do”, but truly, I DO!
We were so young!!
I’ll be the first to admit we haven’t had the perfect marriage, nor have I been a perfect wife, but I wouldn’t change a thing we have been through the last twenty years for anything.
There was a time when marriages that lasted 20 years was quite the norm, but not any longer. My heart hurts for the many friends of ours whose marriages have crumbled and broken up over the years. On more than one occasion Audley or I have been asked how we have such a happy marriage and kept it together despite the odds that are stacked against all of us in this world.
The truth of it all is narrowed down to one scripture from the Song of Solomon….. “I am my beloveds and he is mine.”
Yes, we have a brick at the NASCAR Hall of Fame immortalizing our love for each other …. and the sport.
It’s that simple. Audley and I belong to each other; I submit to (completely respect) him as the head of our home, family & spiritual life and he in returns respects, honors and treats me like a queen and “loves me as Christ loves the Church and gave himself for her.” I am not trampled on, taken advantage of or looked down upon, but we are partners in a life that is Christ centered. We make mistakes, but at the end of the day we still love, honor and cherish each other which leads to a love that makes us truly happy.
Today I thought it would be fun to share just a few ways that we keep the love and romance alive. After all, it’s the little things we do that will make or break any relationship we are in!
1. Next to God, Always put your spouse first. And I do mean always. Yes moms, your kids/jobs/home/life in general have exhausted you, but remember, your spouse is tired as well. Husbands must deal with deadlines, disgruntled employees, demanding clients, and in some cases OSHA, MSHA and the EPA which can make for a mentally exhausted man at night. Don’t give your leftovers to your lover, give them your all, even if it’s putting the kids to bed an hour early (IN THEIR OWN BEDS…. I’m so against co-sleeping) so you can fall asleep on the couch together. Your spouse deserves to feel wanted in their own home, not a guest who is in the way.
2. Pray or have devotion time together. The world is constantly hitting us from all directions. Its our jobs, family obligations, current events, music…. you name it, there is plenty to take us away from God and directly toward the world. Take time to reconnect with God and your spouse. I can assure you that those moments of prayer and devotion are the strongest you will feel in your love and marriage. Audley and I have done the Love Dare together, as well as used a devotional Bible for couples over the years. Read books to inspire or encourage your marriages. Of late Tony & Lauren Dungy’s book “Uncommon Marriage” and Al & Lisa Robertson’s “A New Season” have been reads of ours.
3. Date your spouse. You dated to get to know each other before you married, so don’t let it stop! Once kids and jobs come into in picture we change. You need the time alone together. Believe me, it does you a lot of good! Keep dating each other and always having fun together! When it comes to dating, you don’t have to make it expensive or extravagant. Believe me, in our 20 years together we have been broke as can be and still found a way to have one-on-one time. I know sitters aren’t always available or affordable, but you still need that time alone. Our favorite dates ever have been the ones where we never left the house. Those were nights when we put the kids to bed EARLY, ordered take-out and picnicked right in our living room. A few candles, soft music and food someone else cooked and we are were all set!
Sushi carpet picnic anyone?
Even with our kids perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, we still like our traditional carpet picnic. Try it!
4. Talk. Something so simple, but something that so many stop doing. Talk about work, home, kids, hopes, dreams, plans, ideas, feelings, highs and lows. Don’t hide things from your spouse. Share the happy moments, the irritating moments and the funny moments; let your spouse do the same. You can laugh and be silly, but whatever you do, don’t be afraid to communicate! This is how you continue to know who you are married to. We all change as life circumstances change. If you aren’t communicating then you are losing the opportunity to know who you are married to! Audley puts it this way:
“If you have an expensive car like a Mercedes, BMW or Lexus, you’ll do whatever you must in the way of maintenance to keep that car at peak performance. You know that vehicle, it’s quirks, what makes it run well and you know when it’s not at its best, and needing maintenance.
It’s the same way with your spouse. You learn when things are well with your mate, what they like and dislike, when they are struggling, and even every little quirk they have. They are precious and should be treated as such. You do whatever maintenance is needed to keep your marriage fresh, alive and always growing; always at it’s best.”
And one last point, communicating is NOT nagging, griping and beating down your spouse because they aren’t living up to YOUR expectations.
“Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” ( Proverbs 21:9) “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.” ( Proverbs 21:19)
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (I Peter 3:7)
5. Take care of yourself. Oh how controversial this can be especially for stay-at-home-moms. I have heard the excuse so many times that it is more important to take care of the kids instead of yourself and I’m totally going to say that is a crock! Don’t neglect your children by any means, but take the time to pull yourself together for your own sanity and for your spouse. Ladies, in most any industry in which your man works, he is around women who are dressed for success. How do you think he feels to come home and see you still in your pajamas, hair unkempt and food from the kids on your shirt? I’m not saying go all “Stepford” for him (well maybe occasionally surprise him there…. haha), but shower while the kids nap or watch a movie, brush your hair even if it’s to put in a ponytail or headband, add a little mascara & lipstick, and for heaven’s sake, put on some clean clothes! Yoga pants with a matching tee-shirt is perfect. Jeans and a button down top work well.
I have two favorite at-home “uniforms”: maxi dresses (they are light and flowy) and leggings with one of Audley’s button-down shirts. Add lip gloss, mascara and a pair of earrings and I feel beautiful!
And while I’m on the subject of taking care of things, don’t neglect your home either. Take a few minutes each day to pick up before your spouse comes in. The less chaos that greets a husband or wife when they arrive home, the more relaxing the evening can be! (I’ll cover this in another post)
6. Compliment one another. It’s OK to tell your spouse that they look good/pretty/hot/sexy….. Really, it is! Recognize when your wife has a new haircut or color and compliment them. Wives, don’t forget to tell your hubby how great the yard looks after he has mowed. And even after twenty years its OK to continually tell your spouse that your favorite pot roast and vegetables is still the bomb.
7. Surprise one another. Nothings says I am thinking of you more than a little surprise for your love. Surprises don’t even have to be extravagant. Here are a few ideas:
*Love notes in lunch box/suitcase/briefcase/diaper bag….
*Single rose (or favorite flower)
*Starbucks coffee at work
*Favorite chocolate bar (not good if your spouse is on a diet)
*Homecooked lunch at work
*Sleeve of golf balls before his next game
*A spa day for her
*Edible fruit arrangement
*a cake for two to eat after the kids go to bed (Publix has these in their bakery)
But a word of caution husbands…. appliances may surprise her, but not in a way you might like!
Power tools …. always a good surprise, especially for the DIY minded wife!
And lastly 8. Even if the dog is barking, the kids are crying, you are a hot mess, or running behind, ALWAYS pause for a kiss and a hug! As humans we crave touch and I don’t mean sexual touch. We crave the comfort and love a hug can represent. Touch can also be soothing to us; a way to ease the pain of things not going as you had planned for the day. Men, your wife needs to know you are still attracted to her and want to touch her. But more than anything showing affection to your spouse teaches your children that it’s ok to show love and affection to one another even after you say “I do”! They may tell you how gross you are, but when you find a message they’ve shared saying their parents are #relationshipgoals, you’ll be glad you grossed them out.
Be great parents…. Gross your kids out!
I’ll be honest, I’m not ashamed of a little PDA. I don’t care who knows that I am still madly and passionately and yes, even physically in love with my husband! I’m more than happy to let the world have a peek at how wonderful life can be! Besides, a little PDA during the day can lead to a little more intimacy once the lights go down.
And it’s OK. After all you are married!
There are so many more ways to keep the flame alive in your marriages, but these are just a few that have been the most important in ours. I hope you found a little inspiration for your own marriages today. What do you do to keep the fires burning in your own marriages?