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What does it take to have a joyful, long-lasting marriage? This topic could fill 150 books, but I'd like to share two simple ideas that will help.

The first is develop a deep-seated desire to honor the Lord.

I accepted the Lord into my life at age 5 -- and I remember it clearly even today -- but I didn't know much about maturing in my Christian walk until after Carol and I were married. Was I a Christian? Yes. Did I turn away from the world? Yes. That's why I turned down the invitation at age 18 to go to Hollywood. Did I love the Lord? Yes, as much as I knew how.

God knew how to get my attention, and I listened. At age 15, He let me know that I would get married early. But I didn't go looking for a girl-friend for a prospective wife: I knew God would bring her to me -- or take me to her.

We married on Aug. 22, 1966: my 20th birthday anniversary. We sang a duet for our wedding; the title is "Submission [to the will of God]."

Throughout our marriage, I had three priorities: 1) Serve the Lord to the best of my ability, 2) Take care of my family, and 3) In everything I do, give it my best effort. I decided to be the perfect husband and the perfect father. Well, I knew there is no such thing as perfect, but I would be next to it.

WRONG! I made many mistakes.

But my strongest desire in the world was to live for the Lord in the best way I knew how. I also knew that Carol was more spiritually mature than I was, and I longed to learn from her.

The second idea is to develop a deep-seated desire to honor your spouse.

I had a flippant outlook on life until Carol and I were married. I was a mediocre student in high school and my first two years in college. But when we were married, my outlook on life changed. All my college and university work after marriage averaged 3.9 GPA. I excelled in all my vocational work. As a pastor I helped stabilize and set declining churches in order.

But putting that kind of drive into husband-hood and fatherhood caused strife. Something -- or several things -- had to change.

I finally realized that I didn't have to prove myself to Carol or to anyone else. I just needed to be the person God wanted me to be. But how do I do that? It was really simple.

1) Be kind to others. Accept them for who they are. If a change needs to be made, allow God to do the work.

2) Be kind to Carol and the kids. Stop trying to make them into the people that would honor me. Allow them to grow into their own person and honor God. Guide them. Don't order them, but help them. THAT was hard for me to learn!

3) Listen to Carol. Spend time with her. Allow her to express her thoughts and feelings. It was hard for me to listen without trying to fix everything; but listening is sometimes the best thing a person can do.

4) Don't try to solve everyone's problems. I don't know as much as I think I do, anyway. I need to allow the Holy Spirit to be the fixer. Don't take His place, but as much as humanly possible, be available to help.

5) When Carol and I seem to get upset with each other, it isn't always because of something we did. We might be bothered about another issue, and we're subconsciously expressing our feelings about it. We learned this from I Samuel 8:1-9. The people were upset with Samuel and wanted a king to rule them instead of a prophet. God told Samuel, "They're not rejecting you, Samuel; they're rejecting me."

That told Carol and me we aren't normally upset with each other, so don't take the attacks personally. The fight isn't ours, and the Lord will eventually settle it. I call it: Don't catch the verbal hand-grenades. Don't retaliate or respond to the attack.

6) Don't try to resolve every issue. Some problems won't be resolved this side of heaven. Most misunderstandings are not life and death issues; they aren't violations of our marriage vows; and they won't make much of a difference anyway. They are opinions.

7) Be each other's best friend.

-- Gene Linzey is a speaker, author and mentor. Send comments and questions to masters.servant@cox.net. Visit his website at www.genelinzey.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Religion on 03/18/2020

Print Headline: Notes on marriage

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