In February, Susie and I will remember a young couple we knew 48 years ago. They were saying their wedding vows before two ministr-ies. This young couple was Susie and me.
Today we have two children and seven grandchildren, and a great-grandchild is due in March. Our two oldest grandsons are in the army.
After my mom died, I told my brother, “We are the family patriarchs. It is our responsibility to be healthy role models for our children.”I wish every couple could be as happily married as Susie and me. We are more in love today than 48 years ago. Truly, Susie and I are best friends. However, having spent five decades in the ministry, I realize this is not true for every couple. I have counseled far too many couples in hurtful, broken and cold relationships. Some couples should carry a sign saying, “Blizzard conditions with strong wind alerts.”It is one thing to dig out of several feet of snow. But, to defrost a frozen relationship is far more difficult.
Love has the power to heal any relationship. The letter “L” stands for listening. Pride makes a person feel that “I don’t have to listen to you. I’m always right.” This attitude is like a chunk of ice in the road. Truly listening to your mate is a powerful healing force. Listening is not calculating your rebuttal. Listening is really attempting to understand your mate’s position. Healthy communication involves more than talking. Healthy communication involves listening and talking. I often encourage a couple to go on a date where the only purpose is to communicate with each other. There is only one rule: no one can interrupt the other person.
Some have terrible listening skills. We learned this from our parents. We must reevaluate our listening skills. Most people think they have great listening skills and it is the other person with poor skills.
The next letter is “O.” The letter “O” stands for the other. We must commit ourselves to our mate. When Susie and I married, we made a commitment to never use the word divorce. We have had blizzard conditions in our marriage, but we were committed to be faithful to one another.
The letter “V” stands for value your mate. With most couples I counsel, the No. 1 failure in the marriage is lack of feeling valued or appreciated. The husband works all day. The wife works all day. When they get home, they enter a battle of critical communication. Nothing makes a couple experience healing faster than feeling valued. The simple little words, “I love you,” are like rock salt to melt hurtful relationships. Susie and I must say to each other, “I love you,” a dozen times a day.
The “E” stands for energy. Marriages just don’t happen. A healthy marriage requires tons of work. Creating a happy marriage requires lots of work. A happy marriage is not on fantasy island. A couple never knows what might happen that could dramatically affect their marriage. A car wreck, a terminal illness, financial difficulties — all can put tremendous pressure on a relationship.
Love is a tremendous power to heal your marriage.
Marital roads ahead may be snow covered, slick and hazardous. Slow down. Pray for your mate. Go on a date and tell your mate, “I love you.” “I appreciate you.”When you have been married 48 years and your mate is your very best friend, you will see the value of treasuring your marriage.— Mike Goforth, Boone County Sheriff’s Office chaplain and co-pastor of Household of Love and Faith.