An Article from Pastor Paul Boutan
On March 30, 1996 Amy and I stood at the altar and vowed “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” That was 25 years ago. In our two and a half decades together, we’ve raised two wonderful children into adulthood who both love and serve the Lord. We planted a church. We’ve gone on family road trips, Disney vacations and weekend getaways. While our marriage isn’t perfect, I have been blessed to spend the last 25 years with both the love of my life and my best friend. We recently read of a couple named Joe and Margaret McKeever, who had been married for 50 years and they shared the “Ten Things They Got Right In a Half of Century of Marriage.” Well, we’ve been married half the time, so I thought it would be appropriate to share half of the pointers. Now in interest of full disclosure, next week Amy will share with you the “Five Mistakes We’ve Made in 25 years.”
Number One “Equally Yoked”
I think the very first thing we did right was that each of us individually love the Lord and have a strong desire to know Him, His Word and grow in our relationship with Him. 2 Corinthians 6 talks about making sure that you “are not unequally yoked.” Typically, the way most Christians apply this principle in a marriage context, is just to make sure that if you’re a Christian that you marry someone who is also Christian. However, it’s possible for two people who are both Christians to still be “unequally yoked.” For example, if she is a woman who deeply loves the Lord, reads and studies the Bible daily, prays about all situations in her life both big and small. If she not only goes to church on Sunday, but goes to women’s Bible study in the middle of the week, and then a prayer group for moms once a week. You would say she’s a committed believer. However, if her husband is lucky to make it to church on Sundays once or twice a month, rarely reads his Bible and prays even less. You would say that this couple is “unequally yoked”. When I met Amy, the more we talked and got to know each other the more I realized she was my “spiritual” equal. I wasn’t miles ahead of her in my spiritual journey, nor was she, we were spiritually compatible. In many ways our individual relationship with the Lord is the foundation for us to have a solid marriage. In the past 25 years, Amy continues to seek to personal growth in her relationship with the Lord and in her knowledge of God’s Word. Her desire to pursue God, inspires me to pursue Him as well. The Bible says to “spur one another on to love and good deeds,” (Heb 10:24) and to “encourage one another daily, as long as it’s still called today” (Heb 3:13). That dynamic takes place in our marriage, where we each spur the other on in our pursuit of the Lord.
Number Two “Pray Together”
Early in our marriage we attended a marriage retreat called “A Weekend To Remember,” hosted by Family Life Today. One of the speakers that weekend shared that they made a commitment to pray together every night before they went to bed. That really resonated with Amy and I, so more than two decades ago, we made that same commitment. Simply praying together nightly, has helped us to maintain closeness and oneness with each other. Likewise, it also helps to bring closure to any unsettled events of the day. Ephesians 4:26 says, “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” The idea is to keep short accounts. Don’t allow unresolved conflict from one day to bleed over to the next day too. There have been a handful of occasions when Amy and I are holding hands to pray before we go to sleep, but perhaps a little earlier I did or said something that was hurtful. It’s amazing how hard it is to hold hands and pray with each other until you’ve resolved the conflict between you. It’s as if until your hearts are right with each other, you just don’t feel right coming to God. You’ve heard it said that couples who “play together, stay together,” from our experience, it’s equally true that, “couples who pray together, stay together.”
Number Three “Pre-Marital Counselling”
Truly one of the things Amy and I did right, was to get good pre-marital counselling. When we got engaged I was a youth pastor at Crossroads Calvary Chapel. The church's policy at that time was that if you would like one of their pastors to perform your ceremony you had to attend a six week pre-marital course. In fact, you were not allowed to set a date for your wedding until after you’ve completed the course. Pre-marital counselling helped to equip us in the areas of communication, conflict resolution, talk about roles in our relationship, family background, expectations and handling our finances. The counselling we received before marriage really helped us discuss the “big issues” beforehand and give us language to adequately communicate with each other when the issue later came up.
Number Four “Play Together”
Amy is not only the love of my life, but she is my best friend. Over the last 25 years one of the things that have kept our love for one another burning for one another is simply having fun together. Going out on dates on a regular basis has been essential in keeping our relationship vibrant. When the kids were younger, finding a babysitter (or a mother in-law) to watch the kids for a couple of hours was vital. However, even now as we are approaching an empty nest, it’s just a critical for us to have regular dates, if not even more so. Admittedly, Amy has always been a lot better at making sure that we have a date night than I have, this is definitely a weakness in my marriage game. Likewise, making sure that we go on vacations, or weekend getaways frequently have contributed to the health of our marriage. But it’s also the simple things like a day hike, taking our Labrador Retriever to a dog park, joining co-ed a volleyball team, or just laughing at something (or someone) that we both find funny. I said it earlier, but it really is true that “couples who play together, stay together.”
Number Five “Handling our Finances Well”
One of the values that we learned from our pre-marital course, was the value of managing the resources that God has provided and being debt free. When Amy and I were dating I had some credit card debt that I wanted to pay off before we got married. Likewise, I also was wanting to save money in order to buy an engagement ring and pay for a honeymoon once Amy and I got married. We both strongly valued entering into our marriage without debt and starting off on the right foot. So much so, that when the opportunity presented itself, I moved out of my apartment and moved into the “storage closet” at Crossroads Calvary Chapel. For the nine months I slept on a small cot next to a snowblower in the church’s storage closet in order to pay off my debt and save up for a ring and a honeymoon. Amy and I set up a detailed budget (which with modifications we still follow to this day). Between the two of us, Amy has a keen business mind and is a very gifted financial manager. We both follow our budget and are committed to our financial goals, but she does the hard work of managing our resources. Amy is very much like the Proverbs 31 woman, and I rise up and call her “blessed” (PR 31:28-29). Both marriage counselors and divorce lawyers will tell you that one of the often cited reasons for divorce is conflict regarding finances. Therefore, to protect our marriage, from day one we have sought to honor God in our finances, be good stewards with what He has given us and make sure that we are “one” in our finances.
Today we are just as committed to our vows, as we were the day we exchanged them at the altar. As a result of that commitment, we continue to work on our marriage. Over the last 25 years we have attended various marriage conferences, listened to podcasts and broadcasts and read several books. Typically, Amy will read the book, and I listen to the audio version which is my bride reading it to me. These various resources whether in book form or on a broadcast have helped us navigate through any issues we may have been wrestling with ranging from communication, sex, life stages (such as “empty nest” stage), finances, etc. Additionally, being committed to our vows also meant that from day one of our marriage, we made a commitment to NEVER use the “D” word (divorce). As far as we’re concerned divorce is never an option. So we never threaten a divorce and we never joke about it. We are truly committed to each other “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”
Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD.” Truly, the Lord has shown me tremendous favor. I have truly found the Lord’s best in Amy.
If you are interested in reading Joe and Margaret McKeever's "Ten Things they Got Right in Half a Century of Marriage" click this link: https://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/joe-mckeever/10-things-we-got-right-in-50-years-of-marriage.html