The Marriage of My Dreams

June 6, 2022

Patty and I just celebrated thirty-three years of marriage. Thirty-three. I remember the days when thirty-three was such a big number, I couldn’t picture being that old, let alone being married that long. Yet here we are. And I can truthfully say it has been the blessing of my life. In fact, I can say it’s my dream marriage. When I got old enough that I began thinking about marriage I had some ideas of what I wanted—some superficial, of course, but many of them deep and meaningful, like shared faith and shared respect. I watched my parents’ awesome marriage and wanted that.

Then when I became a single pastor I added more to my dream list. When I got to know Patty well, it was very apparent that she fit the bill for my dream. I believed she was definitely a gift from God to me. But you know how it is with dreams. You can have beautiful dreams, but when you wake up in the morning, if you want it to be more than a dream, you have to work on it. You have to put legs and actions to your dream if you want the dream to be reality, not just fantasy.

Patty and I have put in the work for our dream marriage. Here are a few of the essential elements:

  • We are both intentional about developing our relationship with Jesus. When something has slipped in your marriage, your relationship with Jesus has slipped first, for certain.
  • We have the same basic values. You must do better than just marry someone who believes in God. That is not nearly enough for a good marriage. You’d better make sure you have similar values for everyday living and decision-making.
  • We have complete trust in each other. We trust the relationship, and we started building that before our marriage. We are honest, we keep our word to each other, and we pro-actively tell each other the information about our schedules, times, and plans. We never leave each other in the dark.
  • We realize anything worthwhile takes work. We have to keep intentionally depositing into each other and our life together. We make meaningful deposits of time and energy regularly and consistently.
  • We never let the kids take priority over our relationship. As we were raising children our focus was one another, then our kids. Your kids cannot be the center of your marriage. They were not built to be able to carry that. The best gift you can give them is the assurance that they have a home that is solid, with parents who are committed first to each other. They may attempt to divide you because their immaturity doesn’t know how badly they need you together. Don’t let division happen. That remains the same when they are adults. Our first commitment after Jesus is always to each other—the kids must know it.
  • We focus on the good. We are grateful for our spouse and what they do. We work through the frustration. If we focus on the frustration we will become ungrateful, and ingratitude is a silent killer. When you are not grateful for the person you married, you have one foot out the door.

And honestly, underlying all of this is gut-level, unrelenting honesty. We know 100% for sure that we don’t have magic. We are not a special breed. We are just as vulnerable as anyone else to temptations, failures, and flaws. If we don’t do the work every day, if we take what we have for granted, we can be in the same place as many other marriages in six months.

Our dream marriage works and is the joy of my life because we wake up every day and do the work to make the dream be reality.