Marking Milestones: A Lifetime of Love Begins with Intentional Practices

Anniversary Milestones

Anniversary milestones are important times to pause and reflect on marriage and life. Ryan & Amy, our middle son and his wife, recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary. I thought it would be fitting to highlight some of the ways they have intentionally focused on their marriage, forging a partnership that is joyful, supportive, loving, and growing.

Stats from the year of weddings

Their wedding was one of 16 or 17 that we attended that “year of the weddings”. Every couple was bright and hopeful, yet at least 3 of those marriages did not survive beyond 2 years. All were from solid, loving Christian families, so one would think they had a better chance at lasting love. Yet somehow, substance abuse, affairs, and controlling jealousy/abuse stole the trust needed to build a solid foundation.

One couple’s journey

If we weren’t related, I would want to know Ryan and Amy. Anyone that meets them is drawn to their genuine kindness and desire to serve others with integrity. They have an ease and friendship with each other that is refreshing. 

They recently moved into their dream ranch (a generous answer to prayer—that incredible story another time). It would be tempting to look at them and assume that everything goes right for them. But that would be a huge assumption, as the challenges they have faced have broken other marriages. They don’t linger in the past or dwell on the hard things. And there have been many—a cross country move for a job that didn’t work out after only 5 months, the desire for children which still has not been fulfilled, and something like 11 moves in those 10 years—to name the big ones.

Intentional practices

Here’s what I have observed from the front row seat of their 10 years:

  1. They seek out marriage & life mentors. They prepared for marriage, not just a wedding. Prior to marriage, they spent time with 2 different couples from Amy’s church, working through discussions about healthy marriage. Even though both come from families whose parents are still married, one can’t assume that what makes those marriages strong is obvious to their children. I am a huge advocate of extended pre-marital counseling to equip couples with tools for communication, managing conflict, role expectations, exploring family of origin dynamics, finances, whether or not they want children, personality differences, to name the biggies. They have continued to seek out the spiritual and relationship wisdom of those that are a little farther down the road. 
  2. They are Team players, pursuing dreams more than things. Too often, we get focused on acquiring things, checking off a list that meets society’s expectations. But to what end? Much of midlife angst can be understood by recognizing that life may not have been lived consciously. In contrast, what I have observed about Ryan & Amy is that their focus has been a dream they shared—to be able to live and work in a place they love, in a business they love (horse training/competition). It has not been a straight path. From my count, there have been 10-11 moves in their 10 years, but the latest one brought them to their dream place. Without the dream before them, it could have been easy to become weary, even resentful, of the changes. 
  3. They continue to develop self-awareness & understanding of spouse’s personality. I was newly certified in the DISC assessment when Ryan & Amy got married. They, like almost everyone in our family, took it and gained insights into their own wiring, as well as their partner’s. They have learned what is important to the other, how to manage conflict based on their type, and to offer grace and forgiveness when needed. Understanding Ryan’s entrepreneurial nature (apple doesn’t fall far from the tree) has helped Amy frame their life as an adventure. #Rushingadventures.
  4. They focus on fun, friendship, gratitude.  They work hard and play hard. Climbing, camping, cooking together for friends give them a break from long hours at work. It’s obvious that they enjoy each other’s company. There is an ease about their relationship that allows others to feel welcome in their presence. And even when one of their deepest longings goes unfulfilled, they practice gratitude for what they DO have.
  5. Shared faith provides hope when things are hard. It could be tempting to look at their life today and assume everything goes their way. They have known grief, disappointment, broken promises, career frustration/confusion, and longing that has yet to be fulfilled. They don’t sweep the disappointment under the carpet. Rather, they acknowledge the hurt/disappointment and move on, trusting that they are held by a loving God who sees them. 

Here’s to many more years together, Ryan & Amy. Cheers!

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