Occasionally, someone drops a load of bricks on my head to remind me not to get too complacent in my marriage. Taking my marriage for granted could be very dangerous. The first load of bricks hit me in my career as a legal secretary. I worked in many law offices, but the two years I worked in family law was an eye opening experience. In spite of the fact it was the worst job I had in my life, I believe I was employed there for a reason. I learned to appreciate my own marriage. Listening to people airing their dirty laundry day after day was bad enough, but counting the number of years they had been married was frightening. A good number of the cases we dealt with were couples who were divorcing after 25 years or more. I began to closely examine my own marriage, appreciate my husband more, and initiate a few important discussions.
That was a very busy time for us with three teenagers and another child in elementary school. One day while listening to a man complain that he and his wife rarely talked about anything but the kids, and they almost never spent time alone, I was rudely awakened to the fact that he could have been describing my own marriage. That night I corralled my husband for a trip to the Dairy Queen where a serious discussion ensued, we committed to regular date nights, and promised to talk more.
We laugh now about the dates that followed. Most of them consisted of chocolate dipped cones from the drive-up window at the Dairy Queen, followed by eating them in the car in the driveway watching our children fight through the front window. The kids never had a clue we were out there watching. It was like watching a 3D movie—only more fun. It worked, and we found ourselves talking more and really renewed our friendship. After all, isn’t that the crux of a good marriage—being best friends?
We are both retired now, and we’ve hit the 37 year mark in our marriage. Recently, another load of bricks hit me. It’s silly really, because I shouldn’t compare our marriage with any other marriage, especially the marriage of a famous couple. It did come as an unexpected shock, however, that the singing duo Captain and Tennille recently filed for divorce after 39 years. I don’t even know these people, yet I was saddened and shocked. It shook me to the core that I’ve again been taking my marriage for granted. We are probably closer than we’ve ever been, but I must not get too comfortable with that. I must continue to work at my marriage to make it even better. There is always room for improvement.
Elder Russell M. Nelson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) said:
“Marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other human relationship. Yet some married couples fall short of their full potential. They let their romance become rusty, take each other for granted, allow other interests or clouds of neglect to obscure the vision of what their marriage really could be. Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully.” (Nurturing Marriage, Liahona, May 2006.)
Elder Nelson went on to give three tips on strengthening marriage; appreciate, communicate, and contemplate (meditate or spiritual development). In later posts, I plan to give some attention to each of these areas.
It is so easy in our very busy daily routine to forget about why we are all doing it. We are here on this earth as a test. We are supposed to be learning the important things—like how to love one another and be better, more humble individuals. Marriage is the ultimate school for learning those very things. Each day we take our marriage for granted, we miss an opportunity to prove to ourselves and to our Heavenly Father that we are capable of becoming something grand, something unique, something lovely, humble, wonderful, and selfless. As children of our Heavenly Father, we have a responsibility to nurture our marriage, to cherish our spouse, and love our children. Now is the time to work, and time is getting short.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents#.UYPhA6K.