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Marriage can be fulfilling and challenging at the same time. But no matter where you are in your relationship, it’s important to remember that God loves you and has a good plan for your life. Throughout 50 years of marriage, Dave and Joyce have learned so much, and they have tons of wisdom to share from their journey. Joyce answers a few questions about marriage based on her own experiences and the Word of God.
Q: You and Dave have a strong and thriving marriage. Why do you think it has been so successful?
A: I think it’s successful because we stopped trying to change each other. And I think it’s successful because we’re both committed to doing what we believe God would want us to do. God is first in our lives—not each other. We depend on God and spend time with God. And you have to stop wanting what you don’t have and be thrilled about what God has given you and make that the best. I remember years ago when Dave and I shook hands and I looked at him and said, “I accept you the way that you are,” and he looked at me and said, “I accept you the way that you are.” That was the beginning of us having longevity in our relationship.
Q: What advice would you give to a couple who has been having difficulties in their marriage?
A: You know, Dave and I went through some really difficult times. I think that in every relationship, it’s easy to give up; it’s easy to say we cannot make this work. But you can go to God and say, “What do you want me to do to make this situation better?” And sometimes you have to treat a person right for a long time before you start to reap in the field that you’ve been sowing in. So if I do what’s right and that never satisfies the other person and they decide they want to do something else, there’s nothing I can do about that. But I’m going to do what’s right by the grace and mercy of God and let Him do what only He can do.
Q: Is it possible for our marriage to last if we don’t share the same goals or have the same idea of the future?
A: I think that if attitudes are kept right, God can change hearts. When I first felt that God was calling me into ministry, to be honest, Dave just said, “Well, that’s just not what I want to do.” And I really felt that God put it in my heart: You do what I put in your heart to do, keep a good attitude, and I’ll take care of Dave.” And it was literally only three weeks and Dave came to me and said, “You know, God has really shown me that you do have an anointing on your life to do this and so I just want you to know that I’ll back you up whatever you do.” God can change a person’s heart.
“Every day when I get up, I purpose to have a good marriage. I’m not going to accidentally have a good relationship with Dave. Many times I have to pray and ask the Lord to give me a creative idea for a way that I can bless Dave.” –Joyce
Putting it into Practice: Listen to your spouse and search for clues on ways to serve, bless, and encourage them. Listen with the attitude that you are going to be a “need-meeter.”
“Forgiveness is the core ingredient to every successful relationship. So many people carry exceptions to their offer of love. ‘I love you, but you really hurt my feelings yesterday.’ Or ‘I love you but I’m too tired, too busy, too distracted, too annoyed, too angry, too unhappy to be nice to you right now.’ True love simply says, ‘I love you!’ No exceptions!” –Joyce
Putting it into Practice: Begin each day with a prayer: Lord, I choose to forget what lies behind me, and I press on to all the blessings that you have for my spouse and me today. I will love my spouse more today than I did yesterday. You have already forgiven me for yesterday, and I forgive my partner for any offense I may have felt before today. I will not let what happened in the past destroy the affection and loving attention I can give to my partner today. Amen.
“Hasty words spoken without giving any thought to them often cause tremendous trouble. I believe we should not only be careful with our words to people, but also with our thoughts before God. There have been many times when I have thought out how I would handle a situation, and God has let me know that is not how He wants me to handle it.” –Joyce
Putting it into Practice: Form a habit of asking the Lord what He would do before you take any steps to confront your spouse. The key to improvement is to learn to confront the way God shows you to do it, when He shows you to do it, or to leave an issue alone when He says to leave it alone.
“Timing is extremely important in good communication. We can cause ourselves trouble by not picking the right time to speak. There’s a time to talk about a problem and there’s a time to leave it alone.” –Joyce
Putting it into Practice: Look for the right time to discuss the topic on your heart so your spouse is more receptive to what you’re saying. Be slow to speak when you are angry, tired or under unusual stress. Choose a time when you feel the Holy Spirit is prompting you to express your needs.
This article was originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Enjoying Everyday Life magazine. Sign up for a free subscription.
Making Marriage Work (HC book)
Do Yourself a Favor...Forgive (HC Book)
Let God Fight Your Battles (HC Book)
The Confident Woman Devotional (HC Book)
Never Give Up! (HC Book)
Marriage That Works (Audio Download)
Shaping the Lives of Your Children (4 CD Series)
How to Handle Your Finances (5 CD Series)
Understanding Your Triggers and Avoiding the Trap of Offense (4 CD Series)
Making Your Marriage Work
How to Make Your Marriage Succeed
The Art of Learning How to Love
Life Without Strife
When God's Timing Is Taking Too Long
What a Hamburger Can Teach You About Forgiveness
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