Marriage

The Secret to Finishing Your Marriage Well

The Secret to Finishing Your Marriage Well

“How would you like to spend the rest of your life eating breakfast across the table from me?” the man asked boldly.

The petite, dark-haired woman his words were directed at giggled. Perhaps her cheeks even blushed at such forwardness. “Big flirt!” she thought, secretly reveling in his attention.

The year was 1952. The place, a Midwest college cafeteria. The man, Lysle Schmidt, was my maternal grandfather. Well, he would be one day. The woman was Esther Imler. You guessed it, my future grandmother.

Yep, it turns out that my husband Ted isn’t the only guy I know who’s unafraid to utter the “M” word on a kinda-first date. Grandpa was all over that fifty years earlier. In both cases, the direct approach paid off.

Grandpa and Grandma weren’t dating prior to that breakfast line. Sure, they casually knew each other. They’d even chatted before. But that forwardness of his brought with it a new chapter to their relationship. And fortunately for Grandpa, Grandma had come to college with the intention of majoring in the pursuit of a husband.

Less than a year later, they were married.

The trip to the chapel wasn’t without its speed bumps though. The Bible college my grandparents attended didn’t allow students to get married and remain in school unless they were seniors. Well, except when special permission was granted. Grandpa, the freshman, decided to ask for just that.

The dean denied his request. To which Grandpa replied, “Well, I figured that’s what you’d say, but we’re going to get married anyway.” And they did.

They went on to be married fifty-two years; the bond severed only when my grandpa passed away in 2006.

I’d say such a legacy of relationship is worth celebrating, wouldn’t you? After all, marriage isn’t easy. I know it wasn’t always for them. Their decades together weren’t without struggles. They weren’t sans fights and hard seasons and opportunities to call it quits. But my grandparents determined that finishing the race as a team, with stories of God’s faithfulness through the hard times, was well worth the blood, sweat, and tears.

Yep, marriage requires hard work. Its takes perseverance and patience. It means teamwork and a “never give up” attitude. Like these couples before us, Ted and I try to bring these qualities to our marriage. We want to finish well too.

Someday we want our kids and grandkids to look back and remember how we honored those sacred words “I do” and “I promise” and “I will” that we vowed before friends, family, and, most importantly, God. We want our story to point others to Christ’s dramatic story of steadfast commitment to us.

Here’s the thing I’m finding. Yes, finishing well comes with the culmination of years and decades. There’s no doubt about that. However, those monumental anniversary celebrations aren’t what ultimately determine the actual direction of our marriage. Rather, it’s the here and now. It’s those daily decisions Ted and I make individually and together that influence how our relationship actually fares in the long run. The keys to our longevity are found in those moments we decide to assume the best of each other instead of the worst. In those times we choose forgiveness rather than bitterness. On those days we offer grace, not irritation. How well we do is influenced largely by the seemingly small, blink-of-an-eye choices.

Because of this, Ted and I are determined to purposefully live out the day-to-day in a way that positively affects our years to come, that encourages us toward the finish line united.

Sometimes I like to imagine Ted and myself decades from now. Maybe even fifty-two years from the time we said “I do, of course.” We’ll be holding hands and strolling the streets of San Francisco or Paris. Old in body, yet as Michael Bublé croons, young in heart.

Ted, he’ll still have the spiky, musician-crazed hair I met him with, but in platinum silver. Although if he’s lost it, that’s okay. With that mischievous charm of his, I’m certain he can make the no-hair thing work too.

Me, I’ll prove that “mature” women don’t have to shed their long locks. Ever.

For those passersby who take the time to look past the surface of this spunky elderly man with the dry humor and the old lady who can still talk a mile a minute, I hope they see more. More than orthopedic shoes and world-worn bodies who long for the vitality of heaven.

I know we will.

I’ll look back over that path we traveled as a team, the one marked by grace and Hunger Games campaigns and lost seasons. As I do, my heart will well with joy as I gaze at this man who loved me and walked with me and extended me kindness so well.

And I hope he sees the same when he turns his gaze toward me. When he looks at his teammate for life.

How about you? Fifty years down the road, what will your years have been marked by? I hope you too will look back and smile at the “Team Us” you’ve created. That just like Ted and me, your story will be one of marriage together.

Ashleigh

AshleighSlater.com and MarriageTogether.com

This post has been excerpted from Team Us by Ashleigh Slater. Used with permission from Moody Publishers © 2014.

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125 Comments

  • Hannah

    Only being married a year and very young at 22, I almost skipped this post! But your advice on focusing on finishing well in the here and now is inspiring! Thank you!

  • Kristy Jensen

    I am always looking for good books about marriage to add to my collection. I want to leave a good legacy for future generations and I am always trying to be a better person.

  • Ellen

    You’ve got it in a nutshell. Who ever told anyone that everything would always be rainbows and moonbeams in marriage? So many enter marriage believing that being “in love” is a feeling, not a decision. Then when the feeling wanes during a season…must be time to look for someone else. I want to look back on our marriage and be proud of what we accomplished together…day to day, week to week, year to year. Because we decided it was worth it.

  • Diane N

    My husband and I have been married nearly 25 years and one thing we have found is that we can always do SOMETHING to improve our marriage and make it even stronger. This books sounds like it would be a perfect addition to our library and continue to help us as we work together to set a legacy for our children and grandchildren.

  • Tara High

    I love the thoughts in this! Marriage is always what I wanted, and I love who God chose for me to spend my life with!

  • Bernadette

    This would be a great 8-year anniversary present! Having two failed marriages behind me, I am glad to be walking through the rest of my life with a man who honors God. I am always up for tips to help me undo bad habits & learned behavior from the past so I can be the wife God intended me to be & that my husband deserves.

  • April Bryant

    I enjoyed reading this and I would love to win the book. I have been married 17 years and it has taken us a very long time to move from team you vs me to team US. SUPER EXCITED about what our future holds together.

  • monica

    Loved this article. I am getting married in September. As i am 50 now, I am hoping God graces us with the longevity to be married 50+ years. Looking forward to making it happen.

  • cayleigh w.

    I actually really would like to win this….
    yesterday God spoke to me telling me i was starting to flee from the right path. It seems my husband and i hit a plautea in our marriage and life. Not that things arent great, they arent bad either…. just there. I havent found a new church home in the town we recently moved to. I feel like my priorities are being jumbled up. I always tell my husband I feel like God holds off on what we need/want until we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be, and its always when we are active in a church. I think this book could help my husband and I have a devotional together while I start looking for another church home. And even if not, I am going to find nearest christian bookstore and find us one and one for my son.

  • Donna

    I haven’t done the actual study yet but I have your book. But I have been getting your emails & they are great!! Thank you so much for sharing on how we can keep our marriage together.

  • Toni Johnson

    This has really touched my heart! I have been experiencing some bitterness in my marriage and it has reminded me that we need to be a team. Thank you!

  • Beverly Wright

    I would like to win this book because I have just recently married in February. I love my husband so much and want our marriage to feel as though we were still just married after many years. I do not want to be the norm, I want our marriage to be the abnormal, in the sense that we continue to grow in love everyday and grow stronger and closer together through each year!

  • Trish Growe

    My prayer is to continue to have a strong, God-built marriage. I love tools such as this book that can help my spouse and me achieve it and live it.

  • Suzanne R.

    I just recently found this wonderful website and I love it! Thank you for your words of wisdom and uplifting content.
    I’d like to invest as much as possible in my marriage, so that my husband and I can reap the harvest of a good, godly marriage… this is why I’d like to read your book “Team Us”

  • Debbie

    Finishing strong – that’s what I believe God wants all His children to do; whether single, married, parent, grandparent, friend…. through all life brings our way. Thank you for your delightful reminder and encouragement to do just that with our beloved. Looking forward to reading more.

  • Sarah

    Loved this! I have been married 24 years and I’m 42. My 23 yr old son said we are the only parents still married. My 17 yr old son said no one wants to get married anymore. This is sad to me. Our young people has seen more heart ache than they should. Marriage is hard. We have the staying power and the greatest power of our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ. Involve Him in your marriage and you will see Him! We have seen our share of trials & wanted to give up….or so we thought. Jesus saved us!

    KEEPING THE FAITH
    Sarah Edwards

  • Cynthia Lowery

    I am moving towards marriage, and feel that this book will be a wonderful tool for both of us, and will teach us many valuable lessons we can use to build a strong and lasting marriage!

  • Christine Cross

    I have been married for almost 5 years and there has not been a part of it that hasn’t been bumpy and challenging. See we are a blended family. This is my husband 2nd marriage and my first. Unfortunately a lot of the problems from his first marriage are thrown into ours and I have to pay the price for the first wife’s mistakes. I am hoping this book will help us see US and leave her in the past.

  • Monica Molina

    This is such a wonderful and inspiring story. Especially for a newlywed such as myself. My husband and I met in January of 2012 and our first date was at a wedding in February, where he was the best man. We immediately hit it off and everyone was so surprised to learn that it was our first date. We were wed in December of 2012. So we were also married in less than a year.

    One of the most important things that I have learned so far is that my spouse is not my enemy. We are a team. Marriage is the only time when one plus one is still one. I would love to have this book to help me with this journey. I know we have a long road ahead of us. A road that I look forward to traveling.

  • Chastyti Ellsworth

    As a wife who has only been married a year, I love reading things from wives who have been married longer and can give advice for a great Godly marriage. I want my marriage to last till death and im always hungry for stories and advice from thise that make it that far.

  • Debbie

    My parents were married almost 50 years before my Mom passed away in 2012. Such incredible loves stories such as the one above seem so hard to come by in today’s society. Even in my own marriage, the struggles seem more difficult and the committment to work together even more important.

  • Jennifer

    I would like to win this book because my husband and I are currently in the hardest season of our marriage – and we need to come together as a team again. Trusting God for healing and restoration, and this book seems like it would be a great stepping stone for us in our journey. <3

  • Lisa Kay

    My husband and I have been married 28 years. We’ve had some rough times, but we are committed. I’d love to win this book for my daughter who just got married this month.

  • Liza

    I want my marriage to honor God in all ways possible. Daily we all sin and rely on God’s grace to get us through. He inspires and has gifted people such as Ashley to help us in our walk to honor him through our marriages. I would love to win this book in order to add tools to the marriage tool box and be able to finish well, and at the throne of God hear “well done my child”. Thank you Ashley for your obedience.

  • Lori Payer

    Thank you for the giveaway! My hubby and I have known each other for 30 years and married 26. Takes a lot of work, but so worth it 🙂

  • Janee Nelson

    I would love to earn this book because I am soon to be married in December and would love to gain more knowledge on working like a team in marriage and how to make the best of it! I loved the article about the couple and I’m excited to go on that journey with my fiancé. Thanks for this blog and all you do! I hope I win!

  • AD Lister

    Constantly working on a Godly marriage together is of utmost importance. On a side bar the sections of the contest are not specific enough as to what they want filled in after you have completed each task.

  • Amy

    I’d like to win because we are really struggling. After 25 years, my husband’s 2 affairs, as well as porn use and other indiscretions, he discovered he has a sex addiction and is in a 12 step program as well as counseling. I am having a terrible moving beyond the betrayal. A book like this might help me.

  • Debi Schuhow

    Would love to win a copy as I did not grow up with any males in the home and it’s different trying to relate to a man!

  • Lisa Stillman

    My husband and I will be celebrating out 30th wedding anniversary in 3 days. I’d love the book to help me make the next 30 yrs. even better.

  • Sarah

    I want a marriage that will go the distance and one that is a testimony to my girls of what marriage is meant to be. But I feel like I need constant encouragement to make good choices daily that bring life, offer forgiveness and ultimately grow my marriage.

  • Melinda Crawford

    My parents had this kind of marriage. My husband luckily got to see it for himself before they passed away. His parents’ marriage was nothing like my parents’ marriage and we have the type of marriage my mom and dad had. Say that 10 times fast. We are not each other’s first spouses, but we are the ones who God chose for the other. My parents saw it, his dad saw it, his mom sees it and the mother of our children sees it. We pray for each other and know that there are three in this marriage- God, and then the two of us. From the beginning I have called him my rocking chair man, because I see the two of us growing old and sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch watching the grandchildren play.

  • Lauren H

    This book sounds amazing! I think we all dream about leaving behind a legacy of love, but it takes work to get there. Always looking for encouragement!

  • Anna Miller

    I’d like to win this book because I’m always looking for ways to strengthen and center our lives, our marriage, and our family. ♥

  • Felicia

    I would love to win this book so that me & my husband can continue to build a God honoring marriage – we this is a 2nd marriage for both as our previous partners both were unfaithful & said they didn’t want change

  • Andrea

    There is quite a bit of divorce in my family, yet my own marriage (14 years this October) is a constant source of joy for me . . . and I want to keep it that way!

  • Priscilla

    I would love to win this book, because I’ve heard good things about it (partly). And secondarily, because my husband and I just recently got back together after a brief separation. Still feeling very lost – I have no idea how to communicate… we are drowning in financial debt, overcoming past hurts (including hurts for our separation inflicted by those “helping” us)… We need help.

  • Carla

    My husband and I will celebrate 26 years on Wednesday. It hasn’t always been easy, but we continue to make the choice to love each other and put in the work necessary to make our marriage work. This looks like. A great book!

  • Katherine

    This is beautiful. I’m excited to spend the rest of our years together and it’s Only been one year. I love my man and he shows me so much love. He keeps me going. Thank you for this and other posts. They are inspiring.

  • Lisa Day

    Would like the opportunity to win, as enjoy the posts shared through Time Warp Wife, & appreciate the God directed books & insights such as this!

  • Mary Isabeld

    Good post. I’m a firm believer that a great marriage can even be better. I have a great marriage (33 years) and I still like to study ways that it can be improved. Team Us sounds like a good resource.

  • Lara

    We celebrated our 25th year on our last anniversary, and I am always looking for ways to improve our marriage. I would love a copy of this book! Thank you!

  • Erin

    Love your posts! I think that a marriage can always use improving and right now we can definitely use it in ours! Thank you for your servant heart!

  • Autumn Jones

    I think my husband and I are a great team right now. However,
    I know a lot of marriages where that is not the case. I would like to win a copy to give to one of these struggling couples. Thanks so much for sharing your insight and helping to build strong Christian marriages!

  • Teresa Watson

    My husband and I are FOR marriage because God is FOR marriage and so we are always looking for an opportunity to encourage others in their marriages and grow in our own. This looks like a great addition to our library of biblically based marriage books.

  • Jackie Davis

    So convicted and inspired by this excerpt that was shared in this blog post…and would LOVE to be able to read the whole book! (hint, hint) 😉

  • R Lister

    I already have a wonderful marriage but if my wife wants me to enter this then sure of course I will, thanks.

  • Theresa Little

    I would love to win because I know marriage can be a struggle and I’m always looking for ways to make it better, even when times are really good! 🙂

  • Tierra Kautsky

    I would like to win this book because I am married almost 2 months this month… We are young, will be 21 this month and I Want to have and keep a strong marriage till we depart from this earth. We know that marriage is going to be work and we are going to work This book would be good to start my marriage collection 🙂

  • Marie

    I would like to win this book because I have a difficult marriage. I am always looking for guidance and knowledge on how I can better myself as a godly wife and woman.

  • Julie

    A very inspiring post. We were married young, and have only been married three years, but I have every intention of finishing our marriage well. 🙂

  • Marie

    What a great post! I’d love to win this book because I think it’d help strengthen my marriage and I’d love to share it with other couples.

  • jamie

    This year marks our 35th anniversary. I wish I could say it gets easier as the years go by. The last 5 have been the most difficult. In survival mode. Need this book but mostly need your prayers…

  • Jackie

    Working on building our marriage up is a constant battle and being on the same team is something we need to always keep in mind. Would love to win this book and dive deeper into creating, strengthening, and continuously working on us as a team.

  • Christina

    I would love to win this book as my husband and I live in an isolated community and really need to rely on each other.

  • Danielle

    I absolutely picture myself and my husband together in 52 years, rocking side by side in our chairs on the front porch while he asks what we are having for dinner. 🙂

  • Faith

    I would love to win this book because I have been married for 10 years and I am always looking for ways to strengthen our relationship!

  • Rasheedah

    I would love to win this book. My husband and I want to be an example of a stable, happy, and loving marriage for our kids.

  • Lynn in AK

    Even after 27 years of marriage we still need to be actively pursuing “us” or we’ll start drifting. Would love to win this book!

  • melissa miller

    Love love your posts!! I’m 19 husband and I have been married only 2 months and I just love reading about any way we can become closer to god and each other…. and I just love seeing old couples in love!! Reminds me offy grandma and grandpa..he died 6 months ago . He always teased my grandma. 🙂 we miss him!!

  • Karen P

    I would love to win this book because I my husband and I just had conversation about how we need to be less “you” and “me” and more “us/together.”

  • Anne Kristine

    Would love a copy of this book! Getting married to my sweetheart in September, and we are very determined to be a team!!!

  • Melissa

    We are just getting ready to begin our marriage starting in September 2014. This book would be great info on how to begin our married life as a journey. Begin well, so we can finish our marriage stronger and more in love than we are now. 🙂

  • Kelly

    This book sounds like just what we need right now. 22 yrs and very little “us” right now. I want to finish strong.

  • Jennifer

    My marriage is struggling, I think every marriage has it’s ups and downs, but there have been more downs than ups lately. Not sure why and I’m not sure what to do about it. God knows and He has a plan. Your book sounds really great! I would love to read it!

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