The world was a different place when we got married in 1982. We didn’t have the internet or cell phones. Our jeans were tighter and our hair bigger. If our loved-ones were out and about, we couldn’t look at our phones to locate them. But some things–some might even say the core things–are still true today and will still be true to tomorrow. Here are some of some things that I wish someone had told me all those years ago.
Be unfailing cheerful. It’s actually a commandment from God. There’s almost an entire page of scripture references in the Bible’s topical guide that tell us to rejoice. Did you know that sadness was originally one of the seven deadly sins? Sins were ranked in order of seriousness: pride, envy, anger, sadness, avarice, gluttony and lust. It wasn’t until the 7th century that slothfulness replaced sadness. (I think it’s interesting that gluttony made the list before lust and that brings me to my second bit of advice.)
Never let your fridge become a science experiment. Clean it out once a week, preferably on trash day or the night before. This is so you won’t have rotting food and vermin rooting through your trash. (Which leads me to–)
Always have food in your house. It will prevent you from visiting the local fast food joint—which is often expensive, unhealthy and really not any faster than many things you can make at home. Learn to make double portions and freeze half for another, busy day. Make friends with a crock pot. Always have eggs and cheese—both will keep for a long time and omelets are filling. (Which leads me to–)
Go grocery shopping once a week. Make a menu and a list. Impulse buying can wreak havoc on your budget. Running to the store for milk can end up costing $50 and an hour you didn’t want to spend. Go regularly and if possible, alone. When the twins were little, I went at 5:30 a.m. It was just easier.
Have a cleaning schedule. For example, I clean my kitchen and pick up (this means I wander through the house putting things away and gathering trash) every day. I vacuum and dust on Monday and Wednesday. I do laundry and mop on Tuesdays and clean bathrooms on Thursdays. I grocery shop and do yard work on Fridays. Having a schedule simplifies my life and having a plan keeps me sane. Knowing that something will get done, maybe not today, but soon, relieves guilt.
Be nice to your neighbors, even the disagreeable ones. You will need a Mary and a Judy. Don’t upset them by being loud, messy or picky about where they park their cars. Lend them whatever they need. Accept that everyone has a different definition of neighborly and many won’t be interested in you or your family. A rare few may even go out of their way to be rude—that’s their issue—don’t take it personally and try and stay out of their space.
Pray as a family at meal time and always have at least one meal together as a family. Be as committed to this as you are to brushing your teeth. Even when Dad worked in LA and didn’t get home until after seven, we waited for him and ate dinner as a family.
Pray daily as a couple. Dad and I take turns and alternate annually. For example, this year Dad prays on all the odd days and I pray on the even days.
Always love and respect your in-laws—even when you don’t. They play an important role in your life. Embrace them, learn from them, accept them. Maybe you’ll vow to never be like them—that’s okay. They still taught you a lesson worth learning. Your in-laws can’t be avoided or removed (unless they’re dangerous to your children.)
Be generous and hospitable. Saint Paul tells us–Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2. Open your home to everyone and their dog. This will be a great blessing in your life.
Have your own friends and invest the time needed to maintain friendships. Encourage your spouse to have his own friends and interests. Don’t ever speak badly of your spouse to your friends and don’t listen to your friends complain about their husbands. If you have a problem with your husband, talk to your husband. If that doesn’t work (and sometime it won’t) talk to God. You’ll be prompted where to turn for help and solutions.
Have a set time for daily scripture study and exercise. Make and keep goals for both of these important daily activities. Don’t skip meals and don’t overeat. Sleep as much as you need—not more, not less.
And be happy. Rejoice. Remember, it’s a commandment. And when you don’t feel like rejoicing, think of all the things you’d like to tell your daughters in the far off future when they’re getting married and your waist is wider and your hair thinner. What do you want to be able to say to them?
(Hint: It was sometimes hard and not always pretty, but we did it. We’re still married. We love each other, our children and grandchildren. God is good.) This is my prayer for you.
USA Today bestselling author Kristy Tate is writing her own happily-ever-after one day (and sentence) at a time.
She’s the author of more than twenty books, including the bestselling and award-winning Beyond Series and the Kindle Scout winning Witch Ways series. She writes mysteries with romance, humorous romance, and lighthearted but speculative young adult fiction.
When she’s not reading, writing, or traveling, she can be found playing games with her family, hiking with her dogs, or watching movies while eating brownies. To get updates on her new releases and get a FREE BOOK, sign up for her newsletter here: