Lessons Learned from 40 Years of Marriage part 2

Mark n Chris 40Last post I talked about two of the things Chris and I have learned over the past 40 years. I shared how important it has been for us to learn how to love each other, and we spoke about our life-long pursuit to keep learning about each other. There are two more things we’ve been learning that I’d like to share with you.

Third, We learned FROM each other

Once I realized that God sent Chris into my life to help ME change (and not to change her…) it opened new doors. I began seeing her in a new light. If she was bringing things into my life that I need, (attitudes, perspectives, skills, approaches etc.), then why not fully embrace that and learn everything I can from her? She is God’s gift to me and I want to fully and whole-heartedly embrace His gift. I want to graciously and actively receive her into my heart and world as the gift she is. Each of us is different, and the “gold” is in those difference; so I want to mine them aggressively!

To actively learn from someone requires conscious effort. I want more of Chris’ gifts and approaches to be worked into my life, so I pursue it. I ask for her insights, acknowledge what I am learning and give credit to her for the many things I have learned. It also means I ask for her help.

Over the years I have needed her to help me learn how to better interact with friends and how to share life with others. I am much more compassionate, more personal, more connected to those around me because of her. To the extent those things show up in my life and ministry, God has taught me that through Chris.

Fourth, We learn WITH each other

There is even more that we have learned standing side by side. We have embarked on many journeys, faced many obstacles, weathered many storms and suffered defeats and celebrated victories together. Sometimes it has been one of us who initiates the journey, sometimes the other and sometimes it has been God Himself who forces us to take another step.

But every time, when we have stood side by side, heart by heart, faith by faith, hope by hope together, we have grown so much stronger. As we get older there is a natural tendency to let up on the passion to learn. It is easier to become complacent. We are standing with each other to avoid letting that happen. We encourage each other to keep learning and work to keep sharing with each other what we are learning. Partnership brings challenges, opportunities to grow, adventures to begin and different stages of life to enjoy. We are embracing that together.

A funny thing happens when we commit to learn with each other. It rekindles the need to learn to love each other, to learn about each other in this new adventure, to learn from each other and it results in a newer commitment to learn with each other. The cycle of learning and loving continues to grow deeper. That’s when I stop and think, How cool is that? How blessed am I?

I do hope this brief overview of what Chris and I have been learning over the past 40 years encourages you, challenges you, gives you hope and releases your faith. Our experience illuminates a line from the wedding ceremony I use, to paraphrase it: Marriage is God’s idea, designed before humans had sinned, therefore enter into it with wisdom, reverence and in the fear and love of God. Blessings to you on your journey.

1 comment for “Lessons Learned from 40 Years of Marriage part 2

  1. September 28, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks Mark. 40 years is a remarkable achievement. Well done. Your writing causes me to stop and think again ‘Am I really embracing what my wife Clare has to offer?’ . Imagine – the things I find hard when she challenges and provokes me could actually be part of God’s gift….something to welcome and seek out’. Especially when my hearts sinks cos she points out my mistakes.

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