Recently, my wife and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. Every year on our special day we reflect on our journey together – our happiest of times, the joy of raising kids, our growth together, and our love for each other, just to name a few. In a culture where divorce and lack of long term commitment are just as normal as ordering your favorite specialty drink at Starbucks, building in time for personal reflection is critical to any marriage or relationship.

As my wife and I took time to reflect this year, we focused more on what has kept us together through every season. Make no mistake about it; we don’t have a perfect marriage! However, there are 3 principles that have helped us to remain focused on what really matters: celebrating our love and building our friendship.

      1. Ability to say “I’m sorry” and “will you forgive me?” These simple words are seeds to sow daily in order to reap fruitful results in any relationship. It’s easy to overlook our actions when we are attempting to be heard and understood. However, we all have moments where the choice of our words, tone of our voices or our body language hinders our plight to be understood. Remember it takes two to argue, but every disagreement between two people calls for one person to extend grace and humility and to say to the other “you are not my enemy and I’m sorry, will you forgive me?”

      2. Ability to work on our marriage during every season. You’ve heard the saying, “anything worth having is worth fighting for.” We’ve learned that healthy and happy marriages are one of the most important things worth fighting for. While a lot of people naively believe all weddings end “happily ever after”, the real story is most don’t naturally turn out that way. It takes constant work, devotion, dedication and determination in every season to have the type of relationship we all desire. A happy and healthy marriage is built upon rolling up our sleeves and working on all areas we sense need our attention.

      3. Ability to let others speak into our marriage. We realized from the very start we needed help in trying to fit the puzzle pieces of marriage together. Let’s face it, none of us have all the answers. The ability to reach out and get advice and counsel from other veteran couples has saved us from many of the common roadblocks most marriages face. Mentoring couples provide both coaching and encouragement.

Have you learned to say “I’m sorry” and “will you forgive me?” Have you committed to work hard on your marriage through every season? Have you sought mentorship from an older, wiser couple?

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