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Ethics & Religion
Column #2,113
Feb. 9, 2022
My Farewell Column

Happy Valentine's Week!

As I write my last syndicated column after nearly 50 years of writing, my fondest hope is that readers will turn to a loved one, kiss, exchange gifts and share what bonds them together.

I have been blessed with a splendid wife, Harriet, who has been the joy of my life for more than 56 years. She is the mother of three great sons, each of whom married a wonderful woman. Each daughter-in-law has borne three children. We are the proud grandparents of nine grandchildren.

February is Marriage Month. I want to urge married readers to do something special to celebrate.

I would like to share the keys to our successful marriage:

1.Listening: You cannot read your spouse's mind. Don't assume you know what they ae thinking. Ask probing questions. Then listen while they speak. To be sure you heard them correctly, repeat back what you understood them to say. If they concur, ask follow-up questions. Ask her/him to amplify their feelings. If they disagree, ask them to restate their concerns. Listening is an important marriage-builder.

2.Appreciation: We are so quick to criticize, aren't we? Quick to find fault, quick to correct my spouse. Did you know it takes 10 compliments to make up for one criticism? Expressing appreciations lifts your spouse's heart as well as your own. It is a special way to say "I love and respect you." Appreciations also build a strong foundation of affirmation, so that when hard times come we can weather the storms together..

3.Time: Love is spelled T-I-M-E. In my early years of marriage I was a workaholic - married to my work. I thought being a good husband and father was working at my career, bringing home a paycheck. In fact, I should have spent less time on my work and been a better husband and father to three wonderful sons. I regret that misspent time.

4.Forgiveness: Forgiveness is not easy. But it matters so much. If we don't forgive our spouse - or even ourselves - we hurt ourselves and our marriage. Hanging onto old grievances, nursing our anger, damages our relationship. It builds bitterness and destroys intimacy.

5.Trust: Trust is fundamental in marriage. Each husband and wife needs to know, beyond a doubt, that they are always faithful, and keep the wedding day vows "to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health till death do us part."

6.Prayer: The major ingredient of a life-long marriage is prayer. It is the glue of our relationship. Prayer keeps us tethered together as a couple. We take time together with the Lord every morning. An enormous assist has been a quarterly publication, Encounter With God, that suggests 10-20 verses of Scripture to read, and offers a one-page commentary. It covers most of the Bible in six years. (Call 1-800-621-LAMP.) After reading Scripture and commentary, we pray for each other, our family, other loved ones and the world.

If you are blessed, as I am, to have a spouse, celebrate Valentine's Day with how the Lord has blessed you!

Make the Lord a third partner in your marriage. "A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." (Ecc. 4:12)

Jesus was asked, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?"

Jesus replied, "Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' " (Matthew 22: 36-40). What closer neighbor do we have than our spouse?

May the Lord bless you, your marriage, children and grandchildren.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Copyright (c)2022 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.


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