By Tammye Hamilton
Last month Jon and I celebrated 36 years of marriage. I cannot begin to communicate to you what a miracle that is. Jon and I are opposites and not just in the normal "opposites attract" way. I mean we are completely different in every way. We process differently, we perceive differently and we react differently. People speak of men and women coming from different planets, Jon and I might be from different universes!
No one who knew us when we married thought we would make it, although our families were hopeful. They are certainly people of faith. With the combination of our polar differences and our immaturity, we were doomed from the start.
Soon after we married, this became obvious. We were both pretty selfish and very headstrong. We had some serious fights! Most everything he said offended my sensitive emotions. He wasn't sure how to respond to me. I felt he almost always got it wrong.
After we had been married a very tumultuous year or so, we began to have some serious conversations about our life together. We eventually decided we would just stay married, even though it was hard and even if it got harder. We started praying together and asking God to help us and bless our marriage.
We found a basis for agreement- our singular desire to serve God together.
And God began to answer our prayers. The bond between us grew as we worked at understanding each other. We became involved in ministry and learned we felt the same way about that. We love serving and teaching our friends about Jesus.
We learned to compromise and respect our differences. For example, I love a party. The more the merrier! It makes me so happy to be with people. Jon loves people but he thrives in smaller groups and for shorter gatherings. Too much social interaction drains him. As long as we stay sensitive to the other's needs we can navigate any situation. Feeling understood in a marriage is key.
I am thrilled to tell you that we have not only stayed married but we have had an amazing, blessed, and peace-filled thirty-six years together. We still have conflict because we are still us: imperfect opposites. However, we are no longer defined by our differences but by what we have in common.
First, we love Jesus. He is the center of our relationship. We pray a lot. Seriously, we pray about everything. We would never make it on our own. We have had a very adventurous life following Him!
Secondly, we keep our marriage first in our priorities. We made this decision before we had a big family and it has served us well. It is easy for children to become the center of a home. They need so much attention and guidance. We learned from wise mentors that sacrificing our relationship to focus on our children was not best for them. A secure marriage is the best foundation for a steadfast home. We work at that and our children see it.
And lastly, we honor and encourage each other. I cannot believe I get to do life with such an awesome partner. Thank God he is so different from me. It has kept me safe. I love following his lead now. And he values my input, recognizing that my perspective helps him. He also walks out his love for me in thoughtful, caring ways.
So we don't have a perfect marriage. We face challenges and life is hard at times but we are committed to each other and to God's plan for the family He gave us. God is faithful and we are blessed beyond measure.
Whatever challenges you are facing in your relationships today, God is with you and for you. We cannot change others but we can allow Him to work in our hearts. The results are nothing less than supernatural.
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8