The following was originally published on June 27, 2022.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I believe life is relational. The deepest relationships we have influence every other aspect of our life. I have discovered that getting my relationship right with Sarah positively impacts every other part of my life. Said bluntly, if someone finds me worth following, they can thank Jesus and then Sarah.
Fifteen years ago, after giving an emotional speech to our wedding guests about my love for Sarah, my dad told me, “Now you have to go live it.” And for the past 15 years we have.
What does it look like to “live” one’s love? I’ll share a few of our personal examples here. And as I’m sharing these, I’m thinking about two specific kinds of readers: already married leaders and those who may be thinking about getting married. If you’re the former, I hope this encourages you to maintain your marriage not only for its sake, but so that you can bring your best to work. And if marriage is on your horizon, I hope that even one idea below will help set you up for marital success.
What have Sarah and I done that has positively impacted our marriage?
- We pray every night together. We started this while we were dating. We confess sins, honor God, ask for guidance, and give thanks. This is communication with God and between each other. It has entirely shaped our marriage and everything that follows below.
- We learned each other’s love language. When we were engaged, we read the classic book, The Five Love Languages. Okay, I confess that I thought the book was a silly idea. But through reading it, I discovered that my soon-to-be-wife felt more loved when I held her hand or gave her a hug than when I bought her fancy things. Thanks to the book, not only do I ensure I show her I love her in a way that feels like love to her — but just think of all the money I’ve saved! Just kidding. Kind of.
- Hug your spouse often. As one guest wrote on our wedding picture, “Big kisses, every day!”
- Celebrate a random day of the night with a glass of wine. During our dating life we shared “Tuesday night date nights” and still do.
- Set boundaries. Call me old-fashioned, but I am not alone with the opposite sex unless it is for work and Sarah knows them.
- Be accountable. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I strive to be accountable for every aspect of my life. The first thing I talk to my accountability partner about is my marriage. Hiding in marriage is not healthy.
- We always resolve conflict quickly. I can remember some of our arguments, but I can honestly say that I NEVER remember one carrying over to the following day. Settle it quickly. Everyone loses when it carries over. Everyone loses. Get it?
- Have a vision for your marriage. Cliche? I do not think so. I want to be the guy telling his great-great-grandkids to bring Sarah flowers when I am at my end. We share Grandma and Grandpa’s anniversary, so why not share their vision?
- Remember. Always remember. I will never forget randomly meeting up with Sarah again on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Chicago — or driving back to Chicago from Evansville, Indiana after my Papa’s funeral so I could try to win her back— then working the next month to get my shot with her and telling her we would get married if we got back together. Spoiler alert: we did! And I will tell the whole story some other time. Stay tuned!
- Share your love. Tell them you love them, and use words. Repeat daily.
- Talk about your love life. (Mom, please feel free to skip this one!) Talk about your expectations. I know this may sound unromantic, but your needs are probably different from theirs. Making sure you’re aligned here can help you avoid unnecessary resentment. For example, I’m tired of playing golf with guys who complain about this aspect of their life. Or worse, guys who give marriage a bad rap because they don’t have the guts to talk about their needs and wants with their wife. My love life is great, and that’s because we talk about it.
- Talk about money too. I do not make a big purchase without Sarah’s approval. She does the same. Avoiding conflict here is wise.
- CELEBRATE the big moments. Like this one.
Do Sarah and I have a perfect marriage? Of course not. But I will say that a lot of intentionality goes into the great marriage that we have. I am a better person because of Sarah. There is no one I would rather be with.
Thank you, Lord.
I love you, Sarah.