11 Tips For Making Your Marriage Last a Lifetime

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The ring is on…the ceremony is over…the guests have left. Now what?

11 Tips For Making Your Marriage Last a Lifetime:

1) Choose to forgive. Holding grudges is TOXIC to a relationship. Be the first to ask forgiveness. A strong person is not afraid to admit when they are wrong.

2) Choose love. Don’t let small irritations cause you to forget all the wonderful qualities your spouse has that made you fall in love with them in the first place. Make a list of their good qualities and focus on those.

3) Be a servant to one another. Treat your spouse with the same kindness and graciousness that you would treat a guest in your home. Let your home be a haven of peace for you and your spouse.

4) Live within your means. Debt brings anxiety and kills marriages. Sit down together and make a budget. Vow to live within the constraints of your budget.

5) Make time for one another. Keep your relationship fresh and alive by having date nights once a week or once a month. Set your cell phone aside, or better yet, turn it off and focus all your attention on your spouse.

6) Be supportive and encouraging. The world is full of people who want to tear us down. If your spouse works outside the home, they probably deal with negative people all day long. Let them know that you will always be there for them with words of encouragement and love.

7) Commit to one another for life. Determine never to consider divorce as an option.

8) Share similar goals. Talk about your dreams for the future. Work on them together. You can’t reach those goals if you are pulling in opposite directions.

9) Share a hobby. Shared memories are the best. Find something you both enjoy doing and make time to do it.

10) Pray together. I can’t think of anything else that has meant more to keeping our marriage strong. It is hard to be angry at someone when you are praying together.

11) Put God first in your marriage. Faith is the glue that has held us together. When our love for one another has waned, our love for God has commanded us to love one another. God has never failed us.

Truth be told, my husband, Dan Morrison, has taught me these lessons over the 35 years of our marriage. Growing up I was blessed to learn love, self-sacrifice and devotion watching my mother care for my disabled sibling. I knew love. My parents were married for over 64 years. I understood faithfulness and commitment. What I didn’t understand was unconditional love and forgiveness. My father (a wonderful, but flawed human being) was a perfectionist for whom my siblings and I could never do anything right. He had trouble admitting when he was wrong and asking forgiveness. His standards were so high, none of us could ever hope to attain them, and neither could he. He was harder on himself than anyone else. Critical words do much damage to tender spirits. It took many years of God working on my heart and mind, and Dan continually speaking love and encouragement in my heart, to crack my shell. I am here to attest that God can change hearts and minds. We have a strong marriage today because God has worked on both our hearts and given us more love for one another every day. Don’t give up!

Want to Be Happy?

People are searching for happiness. Does it come from money, success, popularity? Television ads try to tell us that the ultimate item, experience, or relationship is guaranteed to bring us happiness and fulfillment. But, after the suicide of yet another wealthy, wildly successful celebrity who appeared to have it all, how can the average person expect to find happiness in this world?

Happiness lies not in the amount of stuff you own, nor in having the most successful career or the most money. While there is nothing wrong with working towards those goals, achieving them won’t bring you lasting happiness.

Numerous research polls find that spiritual people are twice as likely to report being happy as non-spiritual people.

    True contentment and happiness are found only when we are in right relationship with God. It’s a fact.

The key to happiness starts with seeing yourself as you really are: spiritually bankrupt and lost.

You acknowledge honestly to God that you are a sinner, lost and in need of a Savior. Understand that your sins have separated you from a holy God.

When you accept the death of His Son Jesus on the cross as the payment for your sins, God brings you into right relationship with Himself and promises you eternal life.

Life takes on a different focus as you realize that your life purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. When you keep your focus on pleasing God and serving Him, happiness and contentment are the natural byproducts. Happiness comes to those who love God and live to make Him happy.

It is only in seeking to know God and to discover His purpose for our lives that we will find happiness and fulfillment.

“The person who has a firm trust in the Supreme Being is powerful in his power, wise by his wisdom, happy by his happiness.” Joseph Addison

10 Inexpensive Date Night Ideas

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Keeping your love alive, especially after you begin having children, takes a lot of work. In your quest to be the best parent, don’t forget to take time as a couple to nurture your love and appreciation for one another.

The first thing you have to do is line up another couple with children and swap childcare once a month (or more often) so each couple can go on a date without babysitter fees.

Here are ten inexpensive date night ideas to get you started:

1) Visit a museum. In the area where I live, the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Flight, Burke Museum, the Asian Art Museum and many others have one free admission day every month. Take advantage of this awesome opportunity to soak up the arts.

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2) Visit local farmers market. Pike Place Market in Seattle is the ultimate farmers market, but many cities have great ones, some all year round.

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3) Check out a local waterfront park. Find one that allows beach fires, like Alki Beach or Golden Gardens Park in Seattle. Come early in the day and bring a picnic lunch. Fly kites. Sit and watch the sunset and toast marshmallows over the fire.

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4) Take a hike. Explore your local parks and hikes. Wallace Falls in Gold Bar, WA was a family favorite for us. There is beauty in every area of the country. Most of us never explore the parks we fund with our taxes.

5) Attend a free concert. The newspaper frequently lists free concerts in the park, or other venues. We have attended free Youth Symphony concerts (excellent!), the US Marine Band, the US Navy Band and many others of high quality. Keep your eyes open for free events.

6) Tour local landmarks. The Ballard Locks is a favorite destination in our area. Many places offer free tours. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day.

7) Attend an author book reading/signing at a local book store. Sit in the coffee shop and people watch.

8) Learn to dance. Many local dance organizations offer a free one hour class before the dance. Watch your local newspaper in the events section. Every style of dance is represented.

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9) Go stargazing. You can do this in your own backyard on a clear night. If you are lucky enough to live in Seattle, you can go to the University of Washington Jacobsen Observatory for free public shows on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. How cool is that?

10) Volunteer together. Find an organization you both believe in and volunteer some time together. Helping others forces you to take your eyes off your own troubles and focus on someone else. What a great way to build unity in your marriage while making a positive difference in your world.

The best thing is that this list could be endless. All you have to do is google “free activities in (your city)”.

Do you have a favorite inexpensive date night idea? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Do You Make These Parenting Mistakes?

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1. Trying to be your child’s friend. You are the parent. The time to be your child’s friend is when they are grown. They need you to be their parent now.

2. No consequences for bad behavior. Children need discipline. It is your job to train them to behave and follow instructions. The discipline years are the early years. If you begin to train them to obey when they are young (birth – seven), then they will obey when they are older. Don’t wait until your child is a teenager to try to begin teaching them obedience.

3. No consistent discipline. Make sure your rules and expectations for behavior are always the same. Your child shouldn’t have to guess what the rule might be today. Consistency gives children security and lessens anxiety.

4. Let them watch or listen to anything they want. As a parent, it is your job to protect your child’s innocence. Images and sounds are imprinted on the brain forever. I am appalled when I hear a parent say they let their child watch violent movies, horror films or even some stories on the nightly news. The same goes for soap operas or adult programs that deal with sex. Let them be a child for as long as possible. Yes, they will have to face the real world and be aware of safety concerns, but don’t burden them with adult topics and concerns that they are not equipped to handle.

5. Encourage them to grow up too fast. It breaks my heart to hear people tease eight and nine year olds about boyfriends and girlfriends. Children should not be thinking about boyfriends/girlfriends at that age. Encourage your children to wait until they are older to think about boy/girl relationships. (Don’t even get me started on dressing little girls like adults. Teach your girls to dress modestly.)

6. Laugh when your kids throw a tantrum, use bad language or hit other children. Teach your child to treat others with respect and kindness. As parents, we must model this behavior to our children. Do your children see you treating others with respect and kindness?

7. Don’t give them any spiritual training. The most important investment a parent can make is in the spiritual development of their children. It is the primary role of the parent. Every day is an opportunity to impart spiritual values and lessons to your child. Sending your child out into the world without a spiritual compass is like sending them to sea in a ship without a rudder. Help your child develop a strong faith in God and His plan for their life.

8. Make your home a child centered home. Giving children everything they want and putting your spouse and the needs of your marriage last is not good for the child or the family. Children thrive when parents are in control and providing a structured home environment. Parents are to be the leaders and decision makers in the home.

9. Do everything for them. Don’t give them any responsibilities. When we do everything for our children we rob them of the satisfaction of learning how to do things for themselves. We do it because it makes us feel good to have someone utterly dependent on us. It is not good for the child. Teach your child life skills by giving them chores around the house. Help them to learn the joy of a job well-done.

10. Talk bad about your spouse. Treating our spouse with honor and respect and teaching our children to do the same builds strong families. That doesn’t mean we never disagree, but we should never disparage our spouse in front of our children. Never allow your children to disrespect your spouse, either.

11. Refuse to apologize when you have been wrong. Refusing to admit our failures and mistakes can build walls between parents and children. Never be afraid to apologize and ask forgiveness.

My husband and I were far from perfect as parents. I struggled in some of these areas. It is only by the grace of God that we made it through and have great relationships with our grown children today. I share these thoughts with the goal of encouraging healthy parenting and happy homes.

What are your parenting do’s and don’ts?