How do marriages get better?

In my 40+ years of marriage, I’ve tried out all kinds of wrong ideas on how to improve marriage.

I got into marriage thinking my wife would be a little god who would always make me feel good inside. After all, that is what “happily ever after” means, right?

Somewhere early in our marriage I came to the startling realization that I had married a faulty god. She didn’t always make me feel good inside. Clearly something was wrong. Clearly she needed repair.

So I set about trying to fix my wife. If only she would …

I tried reasoning with her. I tried pleading with her. I tried arguing with her. I tried praying for her. I even got her into therapy.

That was a wild ride. Not long after therapy started, the therapist turned his eyes to me, and I was jarred with the reality that I needed therapy.

Ouch!

Did therapy help our marriage? Yes it did. Some. It got better, but we still had a long ways to go.

Then we went through a long period of time where we worked on our marriage. We worked on communication skills. We studied personality types and temperament types. I’m an INFJ mel-chol in case you’re interested. We studied Love Languages. And so on.

Did all that work on our marriage help? Yeah. A little.

Somewhere in this journey I woke up to discover that love is not about how the other person makes you feel; instead it’s about how you treat the other person. I remember a sermon: Are you a love consumer or a love provider?

Again, ouch!

I’ll skip over some other twists and turns and go straight to the single thing that truly transformed our marriage:

In 2001 we started having life-changing encounters with God. Individually, Kim and I started meeting with God and walking away from those meetings healthier, happier, stronger, more at peace.

A funny thing happened as a result of those meetings: I no longer needed Kim to be a little god. I no longer needed to put her in charge of my happiness. That set me free to love her and to enjoy her company more than I ever had before.

So “happily ever after” happened a very different way than I expected. It happened as God gave both of us the inner wealth to enjoy life, to enjoy each other, and to love each other without needing the other one to make us feel good inside.

I want that same inner wealth for you.

Dwight

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