The best times are those when together we truly seek to serve and follow the Lord and His plans for our lives. That a promise is a promise is a promise.
But there are a few other things I have learned as well! Because it has not been plain sailing all the way - like any married couple we have had our share of ups and downs, good times and not-so-good times and some downright bad times. Years ago, we threatened over the phone on one occasion during a time of severe stress that we might just leave each other. And apologised and hugged as soon as we were together again later that day. Stuff happens; we are human; and life can be a severe test of the promises of marriage. What I know now, in no particular order, is this:
1. Most things look, feel, ARE better after a hug, an arm rub and something to eat. Together.
2. Never ever ever criticise your spouse in public or run them down or belittle them or humiliate them in any way. I once wrote: A wife should be her husband's biggest fan. (It applies the other way round too) Build them up to others, praise and polish them and their achievements to others. And whatever you are thinking, save it for home to voice aloud. By which stage it will probably be less important anyway. And your moment of praising will affect your own attitude too.
3. A spouse can do what no-one else can do: pray for their partner at the deepest level. Because we know one another so well, we know how to pray for them better than anyone else does. And if the snoring wakes you at night take that as a moment to lay hands on them and pray for them. It might just be a God-given opportunity!
4. Keep on with dating after the wedding too. All those weeks and months of special date nights don't suddenly cease after the Vicar pronounces you are "man and wife together." Nicky and Sila Lee taught us years and years ago (yes, we went to their wedding!) to put date nights into our diaries before anything else goes into the schedule. Date night is important - whether you are going out or staying in (which for us often depended on children and finances for years!) If you are staying in, don't just do what you normally do in the evenings. Make it a special time with the best china or the finest wine glasses, candles on the table; take a bubble bath together; have a good pillow fight; arm wrestle; learn to give great massages ... (dot dot dot as they say in Mamma Mia)
5. Sexy is a state of mind not body. And anticipation is very powerful: talking about it, leaving little notes, kissing often, sending an anticipatory text message, having coded allusions even when in front of the children or other people. It is also a great stress reliever.
But over these years we have grown together, deepened our love, become really good friends, done so much together. Yes it hasn't always been easy. We know that there but for the grace of God go I, we; it is by God's grace, love, strength that our marriage has developed, stayed glued, persevered, blossomed.
To God be the glory!