This past Sunday, June 9, 2019, was a milestone for me and my wife Julie as we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary.
That means we got married in June of 1984, the start of the summer of Ghost Busters, Born In The USA, the Los Angeles Olympics, and the singular dominance of John McEnroe.
From those beginnings, we’ve kept our faith, maintained our sanity, reared two functional children, and entered the phase of life often known as “empty nesting.” Here we are this past Easter with daughter-in-law Natalie, son Riley, daughter Taylor, and son-in-law Nate.
Here are five reflections on a 35th anniversary. None of these are “go and do thou likewise”; all of them are “this is what has worked for us.”
- No important conversation via text message or email. It astounds me when couples have relationship-defining interactions via digital media.
- Establish boundaries with extended family. We decided early on that we were forging our own path as a couple and family and had to take care to avoid enmeshment on both sides.
- United in parenting. We did a lot wrong as parents but we established one strength early on: our kids could not play one against the other.
- Defined roles. Now: we don’t set elaborate plans as a couple. We don’t set relationship goals. We rarely have devotional time together (though I believe in it). However, very early on we settled into some comfortable routines. She cooks, I clean. She writes the checks, I handle retirement planning. She makes sure the inside is OK; I mow and edge the yard. We didn’t so much plan all these arrangements as we discovered them.
- Tithe and then tithe plus. From the first week of our married lives together, we were 10% tithers. Someone in our extended family heard about it that first summer and said, “You can’t do that! You’ll never know when you’ll need the money!” Well, first it’s not OUR money; it’s HIS. Second, because we’ve given it to the kingdom, God has ensured we have it to give. For the last eighteen years or so we have been able to move beyond the tithe and we have learned an enduring truth: you never miss what was never yours. This approach to money has been foundational not only in our finances but in our relationship.