5 Marriage lessons from a dad in his forties
We get a lot of advice from professionals. So for a change, here's some real marriage advice from a dad who loves his wife more than anything in the world!
It was one of those days when nothing seemed to be going right. A bunch of my co-workers (who are also good friends) and I, were out having lunch and trying to get some work done when I launched into a continuous tirade about my boss, job and pretty much life itself. That’s when I received the first of many life lessons from this dad in his forties.
He looked me right in the eye and asked, “Has it ever occurred to you that your problems are no more significant than a mouse fart in comparison to what other people go through?”
I have to admit that caught me completely off guard. I was stunned and remained speechless for a few moments. Then I tried to mumble a few words in my defence but no avail. He went on to say:
You have a job, a roof above your head, food on the table, a car to get you around and family and friends who love you. Everything else that you consider a problem is merely a consequence of the pretty bad choices you make. What you need is a little positivity in life!
I was completely taken aback but over time, those words made sense to me. I came to realise that how you perceive your life has a lot to do with the lens through which you look at your circumstances.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the many life lessons from this dad in his forties. Let me introduce you to Christopher James, a devoted husband, dedicated father, passionate educator, and a father-figure to all of us who work with him.
He may not be for everyone, and you never quite know when he’s joking, but he is a man of principle, and there’s something we can learn from every role that he plays.
This is the first of 3 articles on life lessons from this dad in his forties. Here’s his take on marriage and being a husband.
1. The thrill isn’t only in the chase
When you walk past his workstation, you will see a picture of his lovely wife. It’s a picture of her looking like she always would, nothing fancy, simple clothes, no make-up whatsoever. But she’s smiling widely.
On the busiest of days, while he’s talking to one of us, brows knitted and stressing over the never-ending to-do list, or the deadline he missed, he suddenly looks at her picture, smiles to himself and says, She’s beautiful isn’t she?
We often wonder if he’s telling us or if he’s reminding himself that he’s the luckiest man in the world to be married to her. You can literally see the love in his tired eyes!
He never stops making his wife feel special.
And that’s something we can all learn from him – never to take our spouses for granted, and never to stop telling them just how much we love them.
He leaves a handwritten note for his wife. Every single day (well, almost).
He will buy her flowers on special occasions and if he forgets, he will walk around the neighbourhood picking flowers for her. He will take her to dinner and make her feel special, because she is.
2. Forever and always
This old man comes from the era where marriage is truly ’till death do us part’. There’s no second-guessing if he will be by her side until the very end. This is what he tells us.
There are good days, there are beautiful days and there are days that can be better. When things get tough, I look at her sleeping and tell myself, well, whatever it is, I can’t see anyone else but her sleeping next to me.
I cannot imagine waking up and not seeing her face.
And so the rough times pass while the good times just get better.
3. Spouse before kids, before anything else in fact
One of the most important marriage lessons from this dad in his forties is to love your spouse before your kids. He loves his wife fiercely and above everything else. And at times, one can find him lamenting, with a sad smile, that after the kids came, his is no longer his wife’s first love.
And he’s ok with that, for now.
I know that I can’t fight the kids, I mean she carried these little beings in her womb, and they know the sound of her heart from the inside, so what can I say. I’ll accept it for now, but someday when the kids grow up, I know I’ll have my wife all to myself again.
What a romantic! These are his exact words to his wife:
“You love the children more than me. You know that. I know you know that. You should. If you’re as clever as I suspect you are, you know I know that. The trick is in not making this new arrangement in affection so obvious all the time.
You would still like to feel desirable, desired and my first priority. I will set time aside for a dinner date and provide flowers when you most need and least expect it. I will slip my arm possessively around your waist and constantly remind our children never to be disrespectful to you because ‘I loved her long before I ever loved you’.
All I ask is a periodic pretence that I still come first in your life.
Every now and then, tell the kids about what a great husband I am. Remind them that there will be nights when you’re going to want to go out with me – only me. Grab my butt now and then, whenever you think the kids aren’t watching.”
And it’s not just the kids. It’s always the spouse before everything else.
Before other family members, before friends, before Friday night beer with the boys or dinner with friends, always find out what your spouse is up to.
It’s not about getting permission to go out, it’s about being courteous and respectful towards your spouse.
4. It takes 2 hands to clap
Among other great marriage lessons from this dad in his forties, is that no conflict is 100% the fault of one party. This doesn’t only apply to conflicts in marriage. Whether it’s with a friend, co-worker, partner or even when it concerns your children, the same applies.
It’s never 100% the fault of one person. Yes, the other party might be 90% wrong, but you are still responsible for 10% of the conflict.
It’s true! When you start looking at things in this manner, you actually find yourself discovering more of your flaws and correcting them. And when your partner sees you making this effort to improve the relationship, they appreciate it.
Conflict aside, running the house is also a shared responsibility. So this dad has no qualms about changing diapers, showering the kids, taking them out and tucking them into bed. And he doesn’t keep count, because it doesn’t matter who does it more.
5. You don’t keep scores
A friend of ours was once talking about battles in a marriage. And that’s when we received another one of those important life lessons from this dad in his forties.
You can’t go into a marriage looking at it as a series of battles that need to be fought and won. It just doesn’t work that way!
In a marriage, you don’t keep scores and you don’t bear grudges. You forgive, you forget and the only direction that you move is forward.
Even when you really don’t think that you are at fault, it’s ok the be the first to apologise. Not necessarily because you are sorry but because your spouse is more important than your pride and ego.
There’s no place for ego in a marriage.
There you go mums and dads, 5 important life lessons from a dad in his forties. Well, this time it’s on marriage, do look out for the upcoming articles where we tell you what he has to say about being a dad, and life in general.