By Jeanne Takenaka
Hubby and I recently celebrated our eighteenth anniversary. Life before I met my man is hazy memories. Times with him occupy most of the happy cells in my thoughts, in my heart.
Things haven’t always been easy. We traversed the ups and downs of the second decade of a military career. Travel, occasional stress with co-workers and accomplishing the mission at hand sometimes demanded his focus.
We struggled through years of infertility. I drew away for a time, had to work through the disappointment that my honey wasn’t ready for adoption when I was. I cried out to God in my brokenness, and then clung to my husband once again. His comfort, his tears during that time eased the sorrow in my spirit that only empty arms can produce.
We’ve fought and made up. Learning how to really talk with each other and not merely at each other. We’ve clung tight to each other through health scares, and leaned on the Lord for support.
As children in the form of two pre-teen, exuberant boys fill our lives with chaos, laughter, frustration and immense gratitude, we walk hand-in-hand still. Praying that somehow God will craft us into the parents these two gifts need to grow into godly manhood. We’ve disagreed on some aspects of parenting, but we’ve talked it out. Prayed it through.
Busy seasons in his post-military job sometimes pilfers time from our relationship. Travel schedules—pulling all the details together to be successful on the work front—make for a different stress on the home front.
When one boy has a meltdown—needs more of me than I have to offer—I can’t always lean on my honey in that moment. But, God is there to give me exactly what I need so I can do more than survive. He gives what’s necessary to thrive in the testing times.
And through it all, my husband prays. Powerful prayers come from the heart of that man. God hears and answers.
Five things that have strengthened our marriage through the trials, the tests and the tears are:
- Praying together. Nearly every night, and more often during stressful seasons. Each morning, we exchange prayer requests for the day. I may be the only person praying for my man as he enters “his” world.
- Giving each other at least one ten-second kiss each day. Steven Curtis Chapman talked about this years ago. Those kisses, where everything stops for a few seconds, and we belong only to each other.
- Making time to really talk. About our days, what’s coming up for our family, our calendars, what the Lord is teaching us, about whatever comes to mind. Adding children to the family mix makes this more difficult, but chatting time knits our hearts together.
- Dating each other. Again, family schedules makes this challenging. Setting aside time for our relationship—for us—is what keeps our family bonds strong.
- Purposing to keep each other as our top priorities—second only to our relationship with the Lord. In the midst of a recent hospital stay, my husband dropped everything to be with me. He took on the full responsibility of our boys so I could rest. This spoke love on an intimate level.
What about you? How do you keep important relationships strong? What’s your must-do marriage tip?
**I’m guest posting at Lisa Van Engen’s About Proximity blog tomorrow. It would be great if you stopped by!