November 16, 2020
As I write this, I’m in the surgical waiting room at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver, where my husband has been in surgery for five hours. I still have more time to wait. This isn’t our first long surgery rodeo. In 2015 he had a liver transplant. Today’s surgery is an ileostomy to remove his colon that’s been irreparably damaged by ulcerative colitis. Both surgeries are life changing for him, and for me.
My husband and I have been married for 37 years and I will say, without hesitation, that the last 10 years or so have been the best for us, even with his (and frankly my own) health issues. Our love and trust for each other mirrors our faith and trust in God.
I do marriage counseling as part of my practice and I love working with my couples. I am very pro marriage. I get tremendous satisfaction in seeing couples repair broken relationships, learn to communicate better, be vulnerable with one another, and learn to trust again.
I am sometimes asked the secret to my marriage. First, I say I married well. I don’t know if I knew this when we married all those years ago. We were young and in love, but naive in so many ways. We grew up together. The man I married 37 years ago was a good man. The man I am married to today is a great man.
Second, we have never given up on our marriage, even in the most difficult of times. In fact, the tough times have brought us closer because we made a commitment to each other.
Third, we argue fairly. Yes, we get on each other’s nerves at times, and when we do, we work it through. We don’t resort to name calling, belittling each other, or false accusations. We listen to one another. We love each other, and remember that our best words should be reserved for those we love, not our worst words. And sometimes, the best option is to say nothing at all.
Fourth, we hug a lot. We tell each other that we love one another. We do nice things for each other. We say thank you to each other. These small gestures add up and fill our love reservoirs.
Fifth, we make time for each other. We don’t spend every moment together, though we both work out of our house so we see each other a lot. We are a couple and want to be with one another. We do give one another space, but always make sure we come together at the end.
Sixth, our faith keeps us together. Our marriage is a triangle, with God at the head. We consider marriage to be a sacrament that is not easily broken. This means we work at our marriage.
There are more reasons for the strength of our marriage, but I’ll stop here. My husband is out of surgery and I need to be with him soon. He is the most important person in my life…and that’s probably the most important reason why we have stayed together for 37 years.