What makes for a great marriage that endures the test of time? The Ezzos share their wisdom on how to keep a Christ-centered marriage going strong:
- A moment in time
Every marriage relationship has that “moment in time’ when you both realize ‘this is the one!’ You experience that depth of emotion that is called “love” and it’s an overwhelming sensation. Ours was in November of 1967 and it’s a moment we have chosen to remember throughout our now 50+ years of marriage. When we have those moments of temporary (okay maybe longer) frustration, we will remind one another of “November”. That’s all we have to say and it immediately brings back that intense emotional love we have for each other. That, in turn, settles our spirits and reminds us of our love and commitment to one another.
- See more abilities in your spouse than your spouse sees in him or herself
Throughout our marriage, we have been willing to take a risk based on the other’s assessment of ourselves. Gary saw something in Anne Marie: that she had wisdom that should be shared with young moms, even though Anne Marie’s worst nightmare was to stand up and speak in front of a group. Anne Marie saw that Gary had a gift of taking complex thoughts and concepts and making them understandable and attainable to any level.
- Love thinks the best!
Even in the most intense moments of fellowship, we came to realize that each one was better than what we saw in that moment. One, or even several, “off times” didn’t define who we were as individuals. Learn to live out “love thinks the best”.
- Acknowledge your spouse’s disappointment, without words
We learned to not over-spiritualize a moment of pain the other was experiencing, as that actually belittles the legitimacy of his/her emotional pain. Gary had spent at least 80 hours in preparing a message for a conference that was to have approximately 500 people in attendance. When he arrived at the church, he discovered that the secretary had double-booked that weekend and there was a marriage conference happening at the same time. The result was that there were only 25 parents in the audience. While it is true that “God knew”, it would not have been an encouragement for Anne Marie to speak up that at that moment. Rather, it would have added salt to an open wound of disappointment and would have minimized all the time and effort that went into preparing for the event. In moments like these, it is better to acknowledge your spouse’s disappointment, quietly pray, and be a good listener. Nothing more really needs to be said.
- Empathize with the past
It is important to understand and accept aspects of each other’s growing up years. When we accepted that there were things we could not fix from each other’s childhood, we learned to avoid asking “What’s wrong with you?” and instead would ask “What do you think happened in your life story that created this type of response?”
6. The “Joseph Factor”
We learned, and continue to learn, what we call the “Joseph Factor” (see Matt 1:19). Joseph chose not to shame Mary publically when she shared about her unplanned pregnancy. Practically speaking, that means no “put downs” or even correcting one another in public, especially in matters that really don’t matter. In the Parenting From the Tree of Life series, we called this “7 Birds on a Fence”. Click this link to get more information on this important courtesy: https://growingfamilies.life/parenting-from-the-tree-of-lifeblog/2018/6/1/lsv12-04s-seven-birds-on-a-fence
- The non-compete clause
We are in a partnership, therefore there is no need to compete with one another. This goes back to recognizing one another’s gifts and uniqueness and remembering that God brought us together to function as one. We do appreciate the fact that we do complete one another and together, by God’s design, can serve others in a better way than we could do alone.
In Part 2 of this blog, Gary & Anne Marie Ezzo will share more wise principles to make your marriage great.