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When I first met my husband Chris, 33 years ago, I had all kinds of romantic notions about what love was…and what it would be like for us to be married. And there have been plenty of romantic moments laced throughout all these years. 

However, falling in love and getting married are one thing; staying married is another. 

Looking back over 28 years of marriage, we were guided by what I call The 3 Cs of Staying Married

1. Choice—“Love Is a Decision.” It’s not just a feeling. Life gets busy with running a household and raising kids. We aren’t always stoking the flames of burning love. We’ve had some nasty fights—cold wars and heated battles. At times we have not felt love towards one another, but we have decided to love anyway. Choosing to love has meant choosing to forgive as well. It’s been an absolute necessity for intimacy and healing to confess our mistakes and ask forgiveness…and equally necessary to offer forgiveness time and time again.

2. Commitment—Like most married people, Chris and I take our vows seriously. When we said, “I do,” we had every intention of staying married. Even with determination and intention, we found ourselves ready to give up. I remember sitting at our kitchen table one evening. Pain and disappointment separated us. We didn’t know if it was fair to our children or to each other to stay together. We talked, we cried…eventually we renewed our commitment. And we decided to take steps to get our marriage back on track. 

3. Communication—One of the reasons we had veered so off course was that we had lost touch. Instead of being a team, we were traveling parallel paths that rarely crossed. We needed to reconnect and we needed healing, understanding, help! So we started meeting with a Christian counselor. Since we already had a babysitter on hand, this became our “date night.” Our counseling session was followed by dinner, a cup of coffee, or a stroll—time for us alone. Sometimes the date was fraught with the unfinished business from the session moments before, but it was always worth it. 

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Let’s face it, it’s easy to get married. But staying married, that’s a work in progress till death do us part!

What are you doing to keep your marriage going strong? 

Elise has been married for 28 years and is mom to four mostly grown girls. She is a writer, editor, writing coach, and blogger. She believes we all have stories that matter--big life bios and small meaningful moments. Elise believes our stories are a reflection of God’s glory and are meant to be shared. They have the power to inform, reform, and transform. She loves God, familly, friends...and really likes travel!

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