Henny Youngman said, “Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.” While funny, the secret to a long-lasting marriage probably shouldn’t revolve around being separate.
I’ve been married to Susan for over three decades. Of course, we haven’t been perfect and things haven’t always been smooth. But I’ve learned over the years what not to do, and I’ve learned some of what to do, including these 3 secrets to a long-lasting marriage.
Secret #1: Forgive each other.
I’ve found that learning to forgive each other is often like what C.S. Lewis said: “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” Isn’t it like that in marriage sometimes?
Marriage takes continual forgiveness. That’s the big secret. Over the course of weeks, months, and years—there must be an attitude of continual forgiveness. Continual forgiveness requires continual grace from one another. Grace is undeserved favor. You forgive each other over and over again, even if you don’t feel like the other person deserves it.
Secret #2: Out love each other.
My wife Susan likes to say, “Couples who out love have marriages that outlast.” I agree. Our marriage has gone through its own marriage challenges—from Susan’s heart complications, our adoptions, and my own back troubles over the years. We’ve learned to out love each other. You must keep giving to one another more and more each day. We should keep doing the little things to pursue one another.
Secret #3: Serve with each other.
The third secret is serving with each other. I’ve seen earlier in my marriage and in other couples that it’s easy to get busy serving in a lot of different areas. This isn’t always negative, but it can become a wedge between spouses rather than something that strengthens a marriage. Often, the mistake I see is younger couples not considering how serving others together can bring them together in marriage. Imagine years of serving separately with individual ministries or organizations. Then imagine years of serving in ministry together, on the same mission, with the same heart. Whether you’re delivering food or serving at church, couples with long-lasting marriages know to do it together—because they understand all good things done together can strengthen the marriage.
What’s your secret to a long-lasting marriage? Share in a comment below.