Is it possible to stay in love for a lifetime? I believe it is. When I was just sixteen years old, I met and married the man I would remain with for the next forty-nine years. It ended suddenly when he was killed in an accident. But, for all those years, we loved each other deeply.
I know that my experience in marriage is not the one everyone has. Marriage can be a wonderful thing or a very bad one for some. So, if your marriage did not last for a lifetime, then, please, do not feel condemned or ashamed. Life takes each of us in different directions.
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, or can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.” Song of Solomon 8:6-7 NLT
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A Broken Family and Child
I was raised in a broken family. I was an only child and my parents separated when I was eleven. Up until that time, my Mother had stayed at home. After she told my Father goodbye, she went to work, began drinking, and for several years, a series of men passed through our lives. One of them abused me sexually. After years of being kept away from my Father, I ran away and ended up living with him. At that time, he was in the process of moving home to Idaho and so I went with him.
Needless to say, I had baggage. I wanted a normal family but, when you are only fourteen, you cannot make that happen. At sixteen, I met Don at a high school dance. It truly was love at first sight. I met his family and they were the normal family I had always wanted. A few months later, he graduated and left for the Army. His parents treated me as one of their own including taking me with them to pick him up when he graduated from boot camp. He was home and then sent to Alabama. In October of that year, I went to Alabama with another lady whose husband was at the same base Don was. We were married in a Judge’s house in Dothan, Alabama.
Separation Allowed Us to Mature
A little over two months later, he got orders to go to Korea, a place I could not go to with him. He left, I lived with his parents, and found out I was pregnant! He was able to come home for the birth of our first son, went back to Korea, came home six months later, we went to Colorado for three months, Texas for three more months, and then he received orders for Vietnam. His last year in the army was spent in Vietnam. In the first three years of our marriage, we only together for nine months.
When he came home, we were both older, more mature, and had a son who was almost two-years-old. We had both changed tremendously. Another big change was that I had accepted Christ as my Savior while Don was in Vietnam and I was going to church regularly.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3 NIV
We Wanted to Stay in Love for a Lifetime
There was one thing that had not changed – our commitment to each other. Even as immature as we were, we had made a promise to each other that the word ‘divorce’ would never be part of our vocabulary. I can tell you that those first few years were very difficult. Don went to church with me and accepted Christ. We had two more sons but we went through some hard times together where our love and commitment was put to the test.
As we grew in our faith, our love grew deeper. In all the years we were married when we got upset or argued, that one word was always off-limits. Don struggled with the after-effects of Vietnam without realizing it for many years. So, we had the challenges of PTSD, flashbacks, and a wave of lingering anger. However, the commitment we had made to each other remained strong.
We went through lots of hardships – no money, a couple of times no food, loss of a job, and more. But we loved each other through all of it. We were both imperfect. I had lots of healing from the past and he had Vietnam.
10 Principles for a Marriage that Lasts
There are several things I believe made our marriage last to that final day. I loved him more than ever and he felt the same.
We did not approach marriage as an experiment or entertain the idea that we might walk-out whenever things got uncomfortable.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 ESV
Though it is not what brought us together, it is what kept us together. Our common goal was Christ and pleasing Him and we pursued that goal side-by-side.
With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3 ESV
We hurt each other at times. When I would be upset with Don for things he did that I didn’t like or that hurt me, I would talk to him about it. He didn’t always change! So, I had a choice. I could either let anger and judgment fester, or I could forgive. I chose forgiveness. I also chose to remember that for every fault of his that I had to put up with, I had two he was putting up with. Many times, a marriage fails because of preferences. One person wants things their way and they are unwilling to change.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10 NIV
Compromise has to be part of a lasting relationship. At the end of the day, your love is more important than your preferences regarding things like the location of dirty socks!
Communication has to be one of the primary things. If you can’t talk to each other, it is doubtful your love will last. Or, if your communication is only negative and hurtful, your relationship probably won’t survive. Communication has to be honest without being purposefully hurtful. It has to be two-way. Both of you must have input. Communication involves active listening also. You need to really try to hear the other person. When they are talking, focus. Don’t be planning your answer before you have fully heard their side.
Sense of Humor
A sense of humor is also a great asset, particularly the ability to laugh at yourself. One day, Don and I were arguing back and forth for quite a while. Finally, we stopped, and I asked him, “Do you remember what we started fighting about?” He said, “No.” We both started laughing, realizing how ridiculous it was! Being able to laugh at yourself is vastly different from being mocked. Never do that to each other. It can also be tempting to hurt someone if they have hurt you. Don’t. And, if you do, apologize as quickly and honestly as you can.
Finally, brothers and sisters, keep rejoicing and repair whatever is broken. Encourage each other, think as one, and live at peace; and God, the Author of love and peace, will remain with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11 VOICE
Agreement with One Another
Learning how to come to agreement is another key. Whenever we had a big decision to make, we did not make it unless we agreed. We would simply table it for a while. There were many little, daily decisions we did not have to agree on but there were others which we did. You need to agree on how you raise your children. You need to agree on what your values and convictions are. You need to agree on your life-goals. You may not agree on your favorite cake but that is easy to fix – just make two!
Love and Romance
Show your love continually. Does your husband like gifts, to do fun things together, or what? Find out what he enjoys and do it if you can. Tell him you love him. Show him respect. Make love to him. The sexual aspect of marriage is tremendously important and should not be neglected. It isn’t just up to him to keep the romance in the relationship. He needs to know that you want him, respect him, and still need him.
How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful! Your eyes are like doves. You are so handsome, my love, pleasing beyond words! The soft grass is our bed;” Song of Solomon 1:15-16 NLT
Like a lily among thistles is my darling among young women.” Song of Solomon 2:2 NLT
Prayer is a must. You need to maintain your spiritual life. While the husband may be the spiritual leader of the home, this does not mean you have no responsibility for your own relationship with the Lord. It’s up to you to pray, read the Word, and be growing in your faith. Again, it isn’t completely on the husband to do all of it. You can pray with your children. You can teach them about the Bible. You can teach yourself and keep the flame of love for Jesus burning brightly in yourself and in your home. Be a praying wife and/or Mother.
Allowing for Growth and Change
Allow for change and growth in each other. As you mature, you each change. Things you used to like are no longer part of your life. Your viewpoint about things like how to discipline your children may change over the years. We should all be changing and growing as we become mature Christians. There are many things I believed with great fervor when I was young, that I no longer believe. A lot of it has to do with how you approach life. You become less uptight because you begin to realize that some things just don’t matter in the long run. The man you married when you were both twenty-something will not be exactly the same man when he’s sixty. You have to allow him to change and allow yourself the same thing. Hopefully, you grow and change together.
She inspires trust, and her husband’s heart is safe with her, and because of her, he has every good thing. Every day of her life she does what is best for him, never anything harmful or hurtful.” Proverbs 31:11-12 VOICE
Husbands, you must love your wives so deeply, purely, and sacrificially that we can understand it only when we compare it to the love the Anointed One has for His bride, the church. We know He gave Himself up completely to make her His own, washing her clean of all her impurity with water and the powerful presence of His word.” Ephesians 5:25-26 VOICE
Fostering a Marriage That Lasts Forever
There are many other points I could make, but here are the most important ones:
- A sense of humor
- Learning to come to an agreement
- Love and romance
- Prayer and keeping your love for Christ alive.
- Allowing each other to change.
I hope this is helpful to you. Staying in love for a lifetime is possible. So is being married to your best friend. Don was truly my best friend and he still made my heart go pitter-patter when he walked into a room. If you spend a lifetime practicing these ten tips, you should have a marriage that lasts a lifetime.
Related: 16 Characteristics of a Godly Marriage
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” I Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
Be sure to also read:
- 19 Encouraging Bible Verses for a Troubled Marriage
- God's Design for Marriage
- Loving Like Jesus
- Growing in the Storms of Marriage
**Verses used in this post were taken from the NIV Translation. To see more information about the copyright, please visit our Scripture Citations.