A couple in my home province of Ontario celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary this week. Clem and Millie Mintz are officially the longest married couple in Canada.
Millie has Alzheimer’s disease now. Clem spends each day with her as they talk and listen to music together. Clem was asked if there was a reason that their love has lasted this long. “First thing is, you have to think of your spouse more than you think of yourself,” he said. “You have to put them first.”
That’s good advice. No one goes into a marriage relationship with a plan to fail. People marry because they really do want to spend the rest of their life with that special other person. But it’s seldom smooth sailing. Marriage takes work and a determined intention to succeed. So how do we keep the magic alive?
Recently I saw a headline that said, “11 things every husband should do for his wife every day.” 11 things! Every day! I don’t know; that’s a lot of things to keep track of. I looked at the headline and thought, “I can’t do that. It’s too much work.” So I was encouraged when I came across a new study that suggests there are only 2 important traits for a successful marriage. Two things! That I can do. So what are they? Kindness and generosity.
Kindness and generosity. That seems so obvious, doesn’t it? This is probably the foundation of any good relationship. A healthy lasting relationship means you need to work on acknowledging your spouse, showing kindness to them and being generous with time and words. The researchers found that noticing the little things matter. A comment about the weather or an encounter at work might seem unimportant but paying attention to those interactions are critical to keeping the relationships going.
We know that being rude, thoughtless and selfish will kill a relationship. Practicing kindness and generosity, actually interacting with our loved ones in this way, takes intentional work. Thankfully as believers we aren’t on our own. The Holy Spirit is at work within us to help us be Christ like in any situation. I believe that includes our marriage and other personal relationships. You are encouraged as believers to, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col. 3:12) This becomes part of our daily attire, what we need to put on when we get up each morning.
Lasting healthy relationships take work, they don’t just happen. As Clem says, “First thing is, you have to think of your spouse more than you think of yourself.” Ain’t that the truth!