This is part three of a mini interview series the team at PREPARE/ENRICH conducted during the month of May to celebrate anniversaries with couples like you.
As we approach the month of June, wedding season is upon us. With weddings come anniversaries – many, many anniversaries. Relationships are our priority here at P/E and we wanted to highlight the lives of some of our couples as they reach milestones in their relationships. We have found that couples at all stages in their relationships have unique stories and great advice that we believe every couple could benefit from indulging in. Take a few minutes out of your day to share in the laughs, well-rounded advice, and insights from our P/E family.
Introducing Ron and Joan
2. What was it about each other that merited a second date?
Joan: For me it was because he was such a gentleman. Opened doors for me and he was very polite and respectful. This wasn’t common at age 18. Ron was also very mature when it came to finances and being responsible. He had a good head on his shoulders.
Ron: I was pretty sure she was the right one even after our first date – but we actually knew we would get married within a few months of our first date – engaged within 6 months and married a year later. Joan was just fun to be around; we enjoyed doing things together and were pretty much inseparable from day 1.
3. What was your premarital counseling experience?
Joan: We really didn’t get a whole lot. We met with Ron’s Pastor a few times. Really don’t remember a whole lot of what we talked about.
Ron: A brief discussion only – no real counseling was done.
4. What role has commitment played in your marriage?
Joan: Commitment played a huge role. We made a commitment at the beginning that divorce was not ever an option. We would work out all of our difficulties. I came from a divorced family and saw how everything was so much more difficult and the kids suffered because of it. I was raised by a mom that committed to raise us on her own, but sacrificed spending time with us to put food on the table and clothes on our backs.
Ron: Commitment to the marriage was very important to us – right up front we discussed the “D” word – Divorce – and purposed that this would never be an option and that we needed to figure out how to work things out – the only option available. Additionally, we got saved around 6 months after we were married. Now our commitment was to Christ and to honor him with our marriage, as it is a covenant relationship for life between a husband and a wife in God’s eyes.
5. How do you keep the “spark” alive?
Joan: I have to give credit to my husband for this one. He makes sure we have weekends away by ourselves. We love Bed and Breakfasts. He usually plans the whole thing. Those times away are peaceful and invigorating. We have some good conversations and set future goals. Also, keeping our sex life a priority. It was not always easy to do when the kids were all young, but intentions were good during those times, but we are more able to spend time on our relationship as our kids have grown.
Ron: Important that you do things together that you both enjoy – some travel, lots of camping, just being around each other. Also important that you do things for the other person as well – that is part of living to serve the other and make their priorities your priorities as well. We like to go to different Bed and Breakfast Inn’s at least once per year. Again, keeping Christ in the center of the relationship is the key to keeping the right spark alive!
6. What is the best part about marriage?
Joan: Being with your best friend all the time. Knowing that when you may feel exhausted, there is someone there to pass the baton to. Always having someone to come home to and who will listen to you and cares what you have to say. To recognize that as a Christian, marriage is not about us, but how we represent Christ.
Ron: Being able to spend time with your best friend, raising a family together and growing through that, and then being able to see your children grow into parents themselves is an incredible blessing – and grandchildren – need I say anymore?
7. How have you navigated personality differences?
Joan: Marriage is all about sacrifice. I won’t say it’s always easy, but when the marriage isn’t all about self–pleasing, but about how to please the other, it helps us get through the differences. An example would be, my husband is very detailed and organized about everything. He lives by lists. Now I don’t mind if he wants to do that, but don’t ask for my list. If he wants to make a list for me, for things like what to take for a camping trip, or what needs to be done around the house etc., I will gladly use his list. I think we balance each other out and we are not wanting to make each other like the other. Our differences are what attracted us to each other.
Ron: As you start out you just have to know that you are both different and cannot let that cause division or issues in the relationship. Just takes extra effort to work through those things. As time progresses, Christ works to weave you into one flesh where the differences become less of an issue, or he shows grace to help you work through those differences. Funny how over time you become more and more alike and the differences are not as big of a deal or just don’t matter anymore.
8. What is your advice for handling conflict?
Joan: Stay calm. Hear each other out. If it is not going anywhere, pray together and maybe wait until you can think through it more. Always search your own heart to see why it’s a conflict. Are there selfish motives that are fueling it? Marriage is a give and take relationship. You have to be willing to concede every once in a while.
Ron: Take time to think through the situation – don’t major on the minors – come together with the intent of listening to each other’s perspective and being willing to not need your own way – willing to give and not always have to take. Communicate – which doesn’t always come easy – easier to clam up but that never fixes anything. When we communicate we have to be honest, keep the issue to the matter at hand and ensure that we have thought through it prayerfully, always attack the problem – not the person. We always attempt to apply godly actions and attitudes as we work through things – Eph. 4:31-32 And then we need to ensure that we are exercising biblical forgiveness which is always required and commanded by God.
9. What was one thing you weren’t expecting about marriage?
Joan: How God uses it to sanctify us. By this I mean he wants to use this to make us grow to be more like him. I wasn’t expecting there to be so much conflict. No surprise though when you put two sinners under the same roof that there would be conflict. Marriage has a way of bringing out what is truly in your heart. Pride, selfishness, bitterness, and many other sins that want to have their way. Seeing these in myself and not wanting them to control how I respond to my husband is a work in progress.
Ron: I came from an unsaved family so the marriage relationship that I observed did not have Christ as the center. That did not mean it was bad, it was just focused different and did not have the purpose of serving and honoring Christ as a priority. Once we were married and then saved we experienced a whole different reality of what marriage is and how it works in realm of a believer. A very different relationship than what I had anticipated.
10. If you could go back in time and tell your engaged-self something about marriage, what would it be?
Joan:I would tell myself to not think of marriage as all “live, laugh, love.” Marriage is work. I would strongly encourage myself to go through a pre-marital class that is Bible based. Work through responsibilities, expectations and how to handle conflict ahead of time. The more you talk through these things the better you will understand each other’s idea of what life together will be like.
Ron: We always say – If I would have known what I know today, I would have done things differently. That is most likely true, but I think you have to go through life and learn things as well – part of the sanctification process. I would tell myself to not major on the minors, to communicate better, to love unconditionally all the time, enjoy life and each other every day because it goes by very quickly, and know that your testimony as a married couple is critical – watch yourself and spend much time in prayer and reflecting on God’s goodness. He is faithful as we seek to serve Him.