On Valentine’s Day sweethearts of all ages exchange cards and gifts to affirm and celebrate their affection for one another. Some will give roses, while others receive chocolates. This morning I awakened to find a home-made Valentine Card from my sweetheart of 22 years on my desk. Later in the morning I observed high school students meeting in the local bagel shop before school sharing a muffin and frappacino. And while sitting in traffic at a busy intersection I observed delivery vans from local florists en route to deliver Valentine bouquets.
As a pastor who performs a few dozen wedding ceremonies each year, I meet with the engaged couples to encourage them on the road to a positive long-term marriage relationship. Unfortunately a few of those relationships break down and end in dissolution. But the vast majority stick together, with a large percentage enjoying a life long partnership.
In our church family we are blessed to have dozens of couples who have been married for fifty years or more. One couple recently celebrated their seventy fifth wedding anniversary. As Valentine’s Day approached this week, we asked our veteran sweethearts, “What are the keys to a long-term, happy marriage?” Here are some of their responses:
· Love and respect for one another.
· Be devoted and committed to the marriage.
· Have faith in God and follow His teachings.
· Keep Christ at the center of your marriage/home.
· Stay connected with your church family.
· Establish and maintain trust.
· Be patient with each other.
· Be equally yoked.
· Keep your priorities in perspective.
· Look at issues from the other person’s point of view.
· Have tenacity.
· A good relationship always involves “give and take”; selfishness will not work.
· Consider the needs of your spouse before your own needs.
· Take one day at a time; life is not easy.
· Ride out the bumps in life together.
· Choose friends with similar values.
· Don’t go to bed angry or upset.
· Play together.
· Work through your finances together; things belong to both of you.
· Remember your vows; saying “I do” translates to “We will work together.”
The advice of these veteran sweethearts gives me a good word to share with young couples. And listening to the stories of these veteran sweethearts causes me to look forward to many adventuresome years with my Valentine.