This month marks my 25th wedding anniversary. When I was recently asked to speak at my nephew’s wedding, I thought the longevity of my marriage might make a good topic—which got me thinking: How had our marriage endured through good times and bad? What kind of advice or tips could I pass on?
My wife and I are yin and yang in many respects, different personalities that somehow fit together, with a healthy cross-section of interests and opinions that intertwine. Yet, I don’t think this adequately explains to a newly married couple how this leads to a relationship that endures. So where to begin?
How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. ~Annie Dillard
As I grow older, I become more and more aware that to get the most out of life, you need to be present. You need to pay attention to the small things, the details of life, because they add up to something greater than their parts. They are the ingredients of a live well-lived.
This awareness means you cannot sleepwalk through life, you need to engage with life.And there’s no place where this engagement is more vital, than with the regular, daily interactions you have with your husband or wife.
In the edited text below, you’ll see how I tried to explain this to the newlyweds Natasha and Ryan.
As we’re gathered here today, I’m sure you can feel it…the sense of love in the air. Love for this beautiful day and setting. Love for the friends and family around you. Love for this beautiful couple.
In marriage…and I speak from 25 years of experience…the key is to keep this love alive not just today…but tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that. But how?
It’s all about giving love.
Here’s what I mean by that… it’s about being the first one to touch…the first one to hug… the first one to kiss… the first one to say, I love you. It’s about taking the initiative and expecting nothing in return.
Give love. Not with the expectation of getting love, but for the sheer joy of giving the love that is inside you as a gift. It is a limitless resource that can be given again and again.
Give love when you rise in the morning. When you come home from work. Before you go to sleep at night. Give love in the spaces in-between, whenever and wherever it feels appropriate.
I know, sometimes giving love can be hard. This is especially true when your spouse has had a bad day at work…or is in a sour mood. At these moments, they may seem unlovable…and may feel unlovable themselves.
But that’s when your wife or husband needs your support the most. That is when they need your love the most.
When we make giving love our focus, it somehow all works out. And we wind up getting the love we need in return.
When we remember to give love…each day…day after day…the rest just takes care of itself.
You might also enjoy this story I wrote on the actor Jeff Bridges, and his thoughts on his 40-years of marriage. It’s titled 5 Key Insights from “The Dude” on Love and Marriage.