How to Build a Loving, Lasting Marriage {22 Years Later}

How to Build a Loving, Lasting Marriage

We somehow found ourselves at the top of the mountain.

A romantic impulse, I suppose. But it was a week-end and we were heading back home when he suddenly steered the car up the road to Timberline Lodge at the top of Mt. Hood, Oregon.

A small detour up into the snowy peak.

Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood

When we arrived at the grand historic Lodge, however, we found ourselves in a long line of cars and the parking lot appeared to be closed. We inched our way up to the grumpy parking attendant who looked as though he had been standing in the cold for far too many hours.

His explanation was brief: “Sorry, no chance. Nothing open with a ski race and two weddings going on.”

Honestly? You won’t let us up there?

“Nope. Can’t do it.” And he motioned for us to move along.

My husband – never one to give up easily – pressed him: But what if we recently celebrated our anniversary up here?

I leaned over to the window, “Yes, and we had one of our first dates here.”

He remained unmoved.

Then for some reason, I impulsively added, “And we’ve been married for 22 years now.”

Surprisingly, the man’s hard lines softened right before our eyes. “Really? You two have been together for over 22 years?”

Yes, sir, we have. Happily.

And we watched him mull it over.

Then finally, “Well, I never do this, but you can park directly in front of the lodge. It’s reserved for special guests . . .and this sounds pretty special to me.”

Special.

Never thought our years together would qualify us as special.

But, yes, by God’s grace, we’re staying true to our vows. We’re committed to this marriage for the long haul. Not always an easy climb, but oh, so worth the effort.

How to Build A Loving, Lasting Marriage

How to Build a Loving, Lasting Marriage

Give each other grace during the difficult seasons. At some point, one or both of you will likely face illness, financial pressure, job loss, or grief. Decide now to ride out these hard times together. Support one another as much as possible. You can’t let these trials determine the rest of your relationship.

Don’t let the cares of this life choke out your love. People get busy, distracted and worn-down, letting their love life slowly fade away. But don’t let that happen. We regularly call a “time-out” where we put the pressures of our lives aside and focus on our relationship together. Reminding ourselves that we love each other and enjoy being together.

Be willing to seek help when you need it. Maybe you need prayer or another godly perspective. Ask for it! Don’t let things get too far down before reaching out for help. That’s the beauty of the body of Christ – you should never be left to solve everything on your own.

Focus on how you want this to end. Whenever I see Matthew’s parents holding hands in church and sharing a songbook together? I say to myself, “Yes! That’s what I want. What they’re enjoying after 60 years is what I want for us too.” My desire is for our children – and our grandchildren – to be drawn to our story when we’re old. I want our love to be contagious.

After parking out front, my husband and I went in and walked around the lovely, old Lodge, holding hands and reminiscing. Oblivious of the swarming skiers and wedding guests. We quietly curled up in front of the massive fireplace where we first sat together and remembered what we realized that evening so long ago.

God meant for us to climb this mountain together.

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. ~ Matthew 19:6

In His grace,
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100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

What’s In a Kiss? {An Uncommon Love: Chapt.10}

An Uncommon Love - Whats In A Kiss

This is so good. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. Like a good romance novel, only this tale is true. ~ Darlene Schacht of Time-Warp Wife.

*Here’s Chapter 10 of An Uncommon Love: Our True-Life Love Story. If you’re new here, you can catch up with Chapt. 1Chapt. 2, Chapt. 3, Chapt. 4, Chapt. 5, Chapt. 6, Chapt. 7Chapt. 8, and Chapt.9.  

Chapter 10

What’s In A Kiss?

by Matthew L Jacobson

I don’t believe in roadblocks . . . never have.

There’s always a way to get something done – you just have to want to do it.

Unless it’s finding the “One”. Then you have to be super cautious and careful. Until you meet her. Until she appears taking what was normal life and instantly transforms everything, like a tree growing in the middle of your living room.

Another Awesome Date with “The One”

Thoughts of our first year of marriage together made me smile as I glanced at her entering the car. Of course we would be married – we’d practically already said our vows, hadn’t we? Not openly or verbally but, it didn’t matter. There could be no mistake. We loved each other. I had certainly communicated that much! It’s not like I buy expensive perfume for every woman who crosses my path.

This was shaping up to be the perfect evening. I glanced over and smiled,“It’s so great to see you.” I meant that with every fiber of my being . . . it was so great, so fantastic, to be with her again . . . it had been hours since we were together.

We had only tonight and tomorrow. She was headed for LA on Friday.

Somehow I knew tonight was going to be special . 

I’m subtle enough but looked at her every moment I could and still keep the car on the road. Something told me I needed to “make a move” but what, exactly, would that look like?

What “move” did I have?

There’s a song from the 80’s I used to listen to by Billy Ocean that has a line in it, “Get out of my dreams and into my car” and she did! It really happened! My Dream Girl was sitting right next to me as we wended our way through the foothills of Mount Hood, up Hwy 26 to the Ivy Bear restaurant – a quiet place where savoury food filled austere surroundings with a comfortable North European flare.

I hadn’t made reservations. Who needs those, right? As we rounded the last corner and the restaurant came into view, it was obvious I wouldn’t have needed them. The place was closed up.

No problem . . . I have a better idea, anyway.

“No big deal. How about we keep driving? I know a much better place, just up the road.”

To find out about his  “move”, you can READ THE REST of this chapter over at Matthew L Jacobson!

Only one chapter left to go! Next week will we will share the final chapter (Well, at least of this portion of our story! ;)

An Uncommon Love - A True Life Love Story by Matthew and Lisa Jacobson

*Chapter One: If He Was the Last Man On Earth
*Chapter Two: Where Is She? Searching for My Forever Girl
*Chapter Three: What Happens When Mr. Right Walks Into the Room
*Chapter Four: What A Smile Can Say to Him
*Chapter Five: The Best Answer If You’re Ever Invited on an Adventure
*Chapter Six: The Night I Fell In Love
* Chapter Seven: 1,000 Ways to Win Her Heart
*Chapter Eight: A Gift for the Woman I Love
*Chapter Nine: When Love is Silent

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)
100 Ways to Love Your Husband: A Life-Long Journey of Learning to Love
100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

7 Ways to Lovingly Prepare Your Marriage for the Holidays

7 Ways to Prepare Your Marriage for the Holidays

Drifting snow. Twinkly lights. Lovely gifts, woodsy garland, and a simple nativity scene.

Mystery and joy.

It was Christmas Eve and our very first together.

We were newlyweds living in those dreadful pink apartments and I was eager to have his family out to celebrate Christmas Eve with us. Everyone was invited over for “light snacks and a festive evening”.

(Did you catch that? “Light snacks and a festive evening.” Just wanted to be sure.)

I put together a platter of cheese and crackers, a large bowl of popcorn, and an assortment of Christmas cookies.  The doorbell rang and Matthew’s parents, his sisters and their families poured in and soon our tiny apartment was full to overflowing. Everyone was in good cheer and began nibbling on the goodies.

After an hour or two, however, something seemed wrong.

A slight tension.

I could feel it in the air, but couldn’t quite figure it out.

Finally, my sister-in-law softly whispered, “Um…..I don’t mean to be rude, but my children are starving! When are you going to serve the dinner?”

Dinner . . . ?

I’m quite certain that I had specified “light snacks” because, of course, that is what you do on Christmas Eve—saving your big, fancy meal for Christmas Day.

Yet apparently, that is not how they did it in his family. Not at all. So my “light snacks” were misinterpreted as merely a humble offering on my part.

Except that I had meant it.

Rather literally.

I suddenly realized that our small apartment was full of very hungry people who look forward to this special dinner every year. And I had unknowingly offered them a rather meager bowl of popcorn . . . .

So I did what one can only do in such a circumstance: I burst into tears.

Horrified. Embarrassed. Stressed. Upset. Even angry.

Why hadn’t my new husband thought to tell me that this was the tradition in their family??  The misunderstanding seemed so unnecessary. 

This was the first of many lessons I would learn about marriage, family expectations, and holiday traditions.

7 Ways to Prepare Your Marriage for the Coming Holidays

Thankfully, over the years I’ve learned some ways to help prepare our marriage for the coming holidays such as…

1)   Communicate your expectations: Often we assume our spouse knows what we value and expect over the holidays, but it’s usually worth a conversation or two. You might both be surprised at the honest answer. You also might find that these things change over time.

2)   Hold your traditions loosely: Traditions can be delightful – but they should never be held above your relationship. God cares more about the love and peace between you two than any long-standing traditions.

3)   Protect your marriage: His family is important. Your family is important. But your marriage is your first priority, so make decisions together that are in keeping with that priority.

4)   Keep it simple: I know, easier said than done. But if attending every event and upholding every tradition sacrifices the peace in your home? Is it really worth it? Probably not. Be willing to let go of some activities to lessen the stress.

5)   Stick with your budget: Often the holiday stress stems from financial pressure, so determine your budget and then keep to it. Cut back your gift list, decorate simply, and make things at home.  Debt is always a damper to celebration.

6)  Be considerate of one another: For instance, my husband is an extrovert and I’m the introvert. Basically he has more “party” in him than me. So we try to accommodate one another – each giving up a little for the sake of the other.

7)   Keep Christ at the Center. He is the reason we are celebrating. It’s not about the presents, cards, food, fun, or even family. It’s about rejoicing in the Prince of Peace, amen?

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  ~ Isa. 9:6

I hope some of these things help you both to enjoy a loving, joy-filled Christmas this year.

And now you know, if I ever invite you over for “light snacks” . . . well, I really mean it. ;)

Blessings on you and yours as we celebrate the birth of the Christ-Child and King!

*How about you? What are some ways you prepare your marriage for the holidays? Or what are some of your challenges? 

Addendum: So many people asked how this story ended, that I thought I’d share it here.

While I went back to the bathroom to blow my nose and clean up my mascara, my sweet sister-in-law rummaged through my cupboards and freezer and started cutting up miscellaneous items like summer sausage, some fruit, and I think even some leftovers! They all had the kindest smiles for me when I got back out (Did she say something to them??) and no one has ever mentioned it since.

And just so you know? It’s a HAM dinner this year! ;)

In His grace,
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100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

A Gift for the Woman I Love {An Uncommon Love: Chapt. 8}

An Uncommon Love - A Gift for the Woman I Love

*If you’re new here, this is an excerpt from Chapter 8 of An Uncommon Love – our true-life love story – that we share every Wednesday. You can catch up by reading Chapt. 1Chapt.2 , Chapt. 3, Chapt.4, Chapt. 5, Chapt. 6, and Chapt. 7.

Chapter 8

A Gift for the Woman I Love

by Matthew L Jacobson

How can you fall asleep when the future looms before you like a burning summer sun?

Was this really happening? Was Lisa Michelle really the woman I had waited my whole life to meet? Was she truly the answer to “The Question”?

Of course she was, and yet at the same time, it seemed as though it couldn’t really be true, like a mirage in the desert – so inviting and something you desire so acutely that your mind tells you what you want to be true.

But it was true.

In my soul, truth was unfolding, pushing back the boundaries of parched sand to reveal, not a mirage but an oasis . . . my mind retracing that first meeting . . .

My clothing had been defenseless against the radiance of her spirit that night, an energy that said, “I really like you.” These past few days, it had penetrated to some place deep within my chest – an energy I willingly absorbed as her eyes danced about me and all through the night air like the bright elusiveness of stars, filling my quiet, solitary march through time with wonder and intrigue.

I could get lost in a universe like that – lost with no desire to be found.

To a famished man, a dry crust of bread is an object of desire . . . but place before that same man a banquet fit for a King and his soul cannot contain the reverence of wonder.

After all these years . . . really? This is happening to me?

And, that’s when it hit me.

God, you haven’t forgotten me . . . you’ve been thinking of me all along. You truly care about this lonely, single guy . . . amazing . . . just amazing . . . thank You.

Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning, before first light, my mind finally yielded to the uneasy rest of a man in hot pursuit of Love’s plans. The sheets nearly strangled me before I got up, thinking of all that had to be done before noon . . . . 

You can READ THE REST of this chapter over at Matthew L Jacobson!

An Uncommon Love - Chapter 8

An Uncommon Love - Our True Life Love Story by Matthew and Lisa Jacobson*Chapter One: If He Was the Last Man On Earth
*Chapter Two: Where Is She? Searching for My Forever Girl
*Chapter Three: What Happens When Mr. Right Walks Into the Room
*Chapter Four: What A Smile Can Say to Him
*Chapter Five: The Best Answer If You’re Ever Invited on an Adventure
*Chapter Six: The Night I Fell In Love
* Chapter Seven: 1,000 Ways to Win Her Heart

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

1,000 Ways to Win Her Heart {An Uncommon Love: Chapter 7}

An Uncommon Love - 10000 Ways to Win Her Heart

“This is so good. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. Like a good romance novel, only this tale is true.” ~ Darlene Schacht of Time-Warp Wife.

(*Here’s Chapter 7 of An Uncommon Love – our true-life love story. If you’re new here, you can catch up with Chapt. OneChapt. Two, Chapt.Three, Chapt. Four, Chapt.Five, and Chapt. Six.)  

So now you know about the phonecall.

And what he said to his good friend, Greg.

I mean, about declaring that he’d met the woman he was going to marry and all that.

So Greg knows.

And you know.

But you realize that there’s still someone who didn’t know….

Um, yes, that would be me. I was still left wondering.

He loves me…he loves me not. He loves me…

He loves me not . . . ?

Two female friends meeting for a coffee

The Clock is Ticking

I wouldn’t want to put unnecessary pressure on the guy, but we only had 8 days, remember?

We met on Friday night. Did absolutely nothing on Saturday and Sunday.

Went to dinner together on Monday night.

Now we were already on Tuesday.

And I was flying back down to L.A. on Friday. Our clock was ticking. Ticking loudly as far as I was concerned.

On Tuesday morning I went out for coffee with a close friend of mine. We had both been single at Seminary, but she was married now and I had been a bridesmaid in her wedding (which should come as no surprise).

So we ordered our grande lattes at Starbucks down Hawthorne Street and I told her all about it.

About him, actually.

She let me gush on and on. About how I’d met him at the dinner party and how I believed that he was the man I’d marry. And how we’d been to dinner the night before. And how he’d asked me to accompany him to some isolated island off the coast of Canada.

She suspected that I might be in love. Imagine!

Then I tried to describe him to her. How charming and godly and interesting and funny and, well, good-looking I found him.

I searched for all the words.

But then I looked up and realized that all I needed to do was point to him. Because, sure enough, there he was. Right in front of us.

No, really. I’m not making this up.

We sat at  a table looking out on the street and there he was slowly driving past us. The very man!

What was he doing there? And why was he roaming the Hawthorne District?

He couldn’t have possibly have known that I would be there too. And, yet, what would bring us both to this same quaint spot in this small corner of Portland?

A mystery.

And I grew uncertain as to whether I liked all this Mystery . . . or not. 

A Romantic Lunch For Two

A Romantic Lunch for Two

Matthew had arranged for us to have lunch that day at the historic Edgefield Manor, a county poor farm built in 1911 which had since been turned into a destination resort for the Pacific Northwest.

Poor farm, no more.

Now the Manor was a gorgeous spot for a romantic lunch and we were just the couple for it.

He pulled our chairs in close together and we immediately picked up where we’d left off the night before. I felt there was a new ease and depth in our conversation and I was ready for it. We jumped from one topic to another, sometimes both speaking at once. Laughing. Teasing.

But then the conversation turned toward how we had each spent our morning. It was easy to say where I’d been and how I’d enjoyed catching up with my girlfriend at the café. But what about him? What had he been up to?

And that’s when there was this sudden awkwardness. An inexplicable silence.

I couldn’t contain my curiosity any longer and blurted out, So what were you doing in the Hawthorne District this morning anyway?

More of a demand than a question.

He looked a bit surprised. Almost as if he’d been caught.

For a moment neither of us said a word.

Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a beautifully wrapped gift-box and handed it to me.

Apparently, his idea of an explanation of sorts.

For me?

(Dumb question, Lisa. Ugh.)

He didn’t answer but only quietly watched as I opened up the delicate little box.

I carefully lifted the lid and there in front of me was a most unexpected present. 

An Uncommon Love - Chapter 7

1,000 Ways to Win Her Heart

So are you ready for this?

The box held an exquisite bottle of 1000 By Jean Patou. A rather expensive perfume with the most lovely scent of rich, fresh-cut flowers. A “little something” he had picked up at The Perfume House on Hawthorne Street.

A little something, alright.

This was a new move and it was bold.

Jean Patou 1000And I don’t mean the perfume at this point. I’m referring to the man.  What guy goes all out and offers such a daring gift? What if I didn’t like perfume? Or what if this simply wasn’t to my taste?

A risk-taker. 

Yet another word to add to my growing description of this mysterious man.

So what did it all mean? Did his little gift really mean anything at all? Maybe that was just him and he often went around giving girls a small bottle of pricey perfume.

How could I know??

Rather than feeling confident, his small surprise made me feel even less secure. Especially as it was unaccompanied by any declaration of love.

Where were the words to go with such a gift?

He seemed to be able to talk about nearly everything else: books, music, architecture, travels, and, oh yes, now perfume. But not about me. Or to put it more bluntly: how he felt about me.

And my need to hear it was growing by the day.

No, by the hour. Because we only had Wednesday and Thursday left now.

His silence on the subject of “us” was beginning to get to me.

We quietly parted ways after our long lunch together. But before leaving, he suggested that maybe the following day we could….?

But I suppose that’s his part of the story to tell.

To be continued . . . . See you next Wednesday for Chapter Eight then?

In His grace,
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An Uncommon Love - Our True-Life Love Story by Matthew and Lisa Jacobson*Chapter One: If He Was the Last Man On Earth
*Chapter Two: Where Is She? Searching for My Forever Girl
*Chapter Three: What Happens When Mr. Right Walks Into the Room
*Chapter Four: What A Smile Can Say to Him
*Chapter Five: What to Say If You’re Ever Invited on an Adventure
*Chapter Six: The Night I Fell in Love

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)
100 Ways to Love Your Husband: A Life-Long Journey of Learning to Love

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson
*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

The Night I Fell in Love {An Uncommon Love: Chapter 6}

An Uncommon Love - The Night I Fell in Love

*If you’re new here, this is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of An Uncommon Love – our true-life love story. You can also catch up by reading Chapter OneChapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, and Chapter Five.

Chapter 6

The Night I Fell In Love

by Matthew L Jacobson

I drove down I-84, through the Columbia Gorge, snaking my way up the canyon wall to peer into the vastness of the night sky from some nondescript roadside vantage point. I like looking up at the stars in moments like these.

Somehow, the impossible distances that look like inches to the naked eye brings my world into perspective.

Lisa had said “yes” and we were going to dinner tomorrow evening.

Suddenly, the future I desired with another kindred soul who would naturally, instinctively, and irresistibly intertwine with mine no longer seemed light years away.

On that vibrant, crisp night, the message about Lisa was not clear . . . just not negative . . . possible, even . . . and that, in itself, was a seismic shift from what had always been . . . that’s significant, isn’t it, Matthew?

A little fresh air, a quiet drive into the stillness of the late evening toward home – time to review and reflect on the events of the dinner party.

. . . the streetlight . . .

Yes, we stood together, then . . . as the streetlight filled her dancing eyes with the full spectrum of life, reflecting back into my soul the energy of a possible future.

Light . . . like a man feels heat when his hand strays too close to the open flame, I could feel the intensity of it’s growing beam everywhere around me.

It’s the story of the moth . . . I would not play the moth . . . be careful.

But, how, exactly are you to be careful when atop a lava flow? Monday just the two of us would be present – alone in the bustling restaurant – fiercely casual, ardently testing the night’s essence without the camouflage of distraction provided by the safe presence of other couples. Yeah, you have to be careful around lava.

Those who care about others know the Territory of Love is strewn with the wreckage of damaged hearts and hopes deferred. That was the last journey I wanted to take . . . or cause someone else to endure.

But, there’s no getting around it, is there?

No wonder the Bible calls it a mystery . . . the way of a man with a maid.

You can read the rest of this chapter over at Matthew L Jacobson!

Great Resting House in Paradise

 

An Uncommon Love - Our True Life Love Story by Matthew and Lisa Jacobson*Chapter One: If He Was the Last Man On Earth

*Chapter Two: Where Is She? Searching for My Forever Girl

*Chapter Three: What Happens When Mr. Right Walks Into the Room

*Chapter Four: What A Smile Can Say to Him

*Chapter Five: The Best Answer If You’re Ever Invited on an Adventure

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).