In 2004, my wife and I spent four days in Puerto Vallarta celebrating our ten-year anniversary. We left our three small children behind and were together on a vacation for the first time in nearly five years. During this 4-day trip, I distinctly remember feeling like I didn’t really know my wife anymore. For the past five years we had been in survival mode – having babies and now had three kids under five years old. I realized that my wife and I needed to vigorously pursue each other, or the craziness of life would turn us into strangers. Fast forward 9 years – this summer, my wife and I will celebrate 19 years of marriage. Our four kids now range in age from 7 to 14. Here are two valuable lessons that my wife and I have learned that have led to an amazing marriage. It all started in Puerto Vallarta.
1. The best thing that you can do for your kids is to pursue a good marriage rigorously.
Having kids is an amazing experience but is also quite challenging to marital intimacy. A friend of mine who has been married for twenty years recently told me “Our marriage is really good because my wife and I have a common enemy in the kids.” (Don’t take this too literally, attachment parenting folks.) The point is that we need to work hard to pay attention to our marriages especially while we have kids at home. Fight for your marriage. Have uninterrupted communication every day. Find ways to go on dates together. Practice being alone and loving each other so that you don’t forget how to be married. The time will come when it will only be the two of you. You don’t want to be sitting across from each other at 3 PM having dinner at Cracker Barrel with nothing to say.
2. Don’t ever, ever, ever stop working on your marriage
Ben Affleck, in his 2013 Oscar speech, thanked his wife, Jennifer Garner for always putting in the work on their marriage. He went on to say. “It is work. But it is a good kind of work.” There is no such thing as a marriage without effort. Are you working on your marriage? You are either working on your marriage or your marriage is slowly becoming mediocre. Fight for it! Don’t allow your marriage to become a roommate relationship. Don’t give up.