The Ezzos continue their reflections on making a marriage that will last a lifetime.
8. God is God alone
One’s spouse is never a substitute for God. This was such an important part of our relationship to learn and thankfully, we learned it early in our marriage. This is not to say that there aren’t still times when the Holy Spirit needs to remind us of this truth! It was, and is, unrealistic for Anne Marie to think that Gary can fulfill all her needs, and the same is true for Gary placing those unrealistic expectations on Anne Marie. When we place our spouse in a position that only God can fill, we set each other up for disappointment and resentment.
9. The “red line”
Learn to recognize and respect each other’s “red line”. For Gary, this means NO motorcycles!!! Being a nurse, Anne Marie witnessed the damage that can be done from a motorcycle accident and while I (Gary) may have desired to experience the thrill of the open road and the wind in my hair, my desire to provide a reasonable level of security for my wife took priority. For me, (Anne Marie) it’s not making major decisions that involve either finances (personal or ministry) or our schedule (personal or ministry) without checking first with my husband. I learned that the asking wasn’t a matter of not having the intellect or ability to manage both finances and time, but rather that I may not have full knowledge of the all deciding factors.
10. Being mindful of weaknesses
We learned to stay mindful of the weakness that comes with our individual strengths. For example, Anne Marie can see the details. If a screw falls on the floor in Gary’s workshop and he’s spent adequate time looking for it, he knows if he asks me to come and look for it: well, “here it is!” On the other hand, Gary can see the big picture. In our first home that we built, Gary wanted to make “Christian doors” which is the name given to a style of frame and panel doors that form what looks like a cross. All I saw was a big stack of wood; Gary saw the finished product. My comment “you can’t do that” proved to be a teaching moment for me. Now I rarely, if ever, say “you can’t do that” because 99.9% of the time, he can!
11. Seize adventure together
We share a common curiosity about what’s beyond the horizon. Without this, there is no adventure in your marriage. We both respect the unknown that is just one step over the horizon, but do not fear it. The most vivid example of this was the $5,000.00 we invested to duplicate the original version of Growing Kids God’s Way, back in 1988. We thought we were catching a glimpse of what God had just over the horizon but were not completely sure. We took that step of faith, realizing we were risking a considerable sum of money. Everything we now see that is the ministry of Growing Families, was beyond the horizon and we are grateful we seized the adventure together.
12. Respect each other’s hesitation
Learn to respect each other’s hesitation, even though it might mean losing an opportunity. This allows the hesitant spouse to have time to process and ask legitimate questions that the other may not have considered. Thankfully this is another lesson we learned fairly early on in our marriage. Gary had a very good paying job with great benefits yet he sensed a call to teach and was actually asked by the church we were a part of to become their lead pastor. To take this position would mean giving up the extras and the security of a regular paycheck. Ultimately, the day Gary made his decision he was going to accept that call, God moved in Anne Marie’s heart to prepare a budget of what their exact needs would be, should he decide to accept the pastoral position. The two actions combined led to Gary taking the position at the church, then moving to California for seminary, and the rest, as they say, is history.
13. Appreciate each day
Daily remind each other of the gift of life and where it comes from. Psalm 23:6 says Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. As the years pass, you realize as a couple that there a fewer tomorrows ahead than there are yesterdays behind. Appreciate each day the Lord gives you to be together and be thankful for the journey. We are closer to saying ‘good-bye’ for now, than our first hello.
14. Be generous
We learned early on that generosity is a way of honoring God because it is an acknowledgement of His benevolence toward us. When we had been married about 4 years, there was a “Missions Week” at our church. The visiting missionary’s testimony and experience was so compelling that when it came time to provide a love offering, we mutually decided, after comparing our notes and checkbook, that God was directing us to ‘give it all’. We knew it would be a tight week ahead but still sensed it was the right thing to do. That Monday, when I went to get our mail, there was a check for Gary from a previous employer who owed him some withheld wages. The amount? Exactly what we had given the missionary! It was an early lesson in faith and generosity and taught us that one can never out give God.
15. Be a lifelong learner
As we reflect on the past 50 years of marriage and look forward to what is still to come, we continue to grow in understanding of each other. We strive to speak life to one another and continue to dream of what might be and what God might have planned for the next years of marriage ahead.