November 13, 1999
That was the day I said “I do” to my wife. It was one of the greatest days of my life, and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I remember everything about that day. Waking up with excitement. Putting the tuxedo on. Driving to the church. Nervous with anticipation. Seeing her walk down the aisle in that amazing dress. Almost losing it but keeping my composure during the vows. Heading to the reception in a limo. Being introduced for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Romano. And finally, completely overcome with emotion, sobbing as we shared our first dance. What a day.
Our marriage has been amazing, challenging, filled with ups and downs but most of all, filled with us together. As a team. 2 becoming 1. I’m not going to pretend that our marriage is perfect or that I’m an expert on holy matrimony. But during our time together as husband and wife, I’ve realized that there are essentials that have kept us together. Life means so much more when you can share it with someone else.
Here are the 5 most important things that have helped us over the past 18 years.
Faith: When we were first married, God was NOT the most important thing in our lives. We got married in a church, went to Catholic Mass maybe once every 3-4 months but it wasn’t the center of our marriage. Around 12 years ago, we both made a commitment to put the Lord first and it’s really strengthened our marriage and transformed our lives for the better. (“Seek first the kingdom of God and all of these other things will be added to you” – Matthew 6:33)
Trust: The number one thing I stress in our household is trust. We have to know that our word is gold. And when we break that trust, it takes a long time to earn that back. But trust goes deeper than just your word. We trust that we won’t intentionally hurt each other. We trust that we won’t abandon one another during conflict. We trust that we will keep our marriage a top priority. We trust that we have each other’s back. I know if my wife says she’s going to pick up my daughter from school, that she will do that. We have a bond of trust that has, thankfully, sustained for the better part of 18 years. “The currency of any relationship is trust” – Justin Davis, author – Beyond Ordinary
Selflessness: Putting others before self. The most basic practice, and yet, the thing I think we struggle with the most. We are selfish by nature. Stephen Kendrick in his book Love Dare says – “Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves.” — This is so true. Selflessness is not something that comes naturally. We often want our spouses to conform to us, rather than us conforming to them. The only way selflessness can be present is if we’re intentional about it.
When we are intentional, we are deliberate. We act or speak on purpose. And here’s the toughest part of all — we are to make the interests of our spouse important to us. If my wife thinks cleaning is important, then I need to consider it important. (I’m still struggling with that one) Practice being intentional by putting your spouse’s interest over yours. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3
Respect: What is respect in marriage? I believe respect is when we treat our spouse in a thoughtful and courteous way. It means you avoid treating each other in a rude or ill-mannered way. This often happens when couples disagree or fight. In our marriage, we’ve had our challenges and disagreements, and we don’t always treat each other in the proper way. However, we know that this isn’t the proper way to behave. Sometimes it is the easy way through. Being disrespectful toward your partner often makes yourself feel empowered, in control. But the end result is a disaster. Sustaining respect during a relationship takes effort.
Forgiveness: I believe Forgiveness is the most powerful tool in life. In marriage, it is so very important. We are all going to fail. We are all going to mess up. But how do we respond to these mistakes? How do we respond when someone wrongs us? In marriage, your spouse is going to do something to you that requires forgiveness. Learn to apologize when your spouse makes a mistake. Learn to forgive. Forgiveness leads to freedom in a marriage. (“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13)
You may be wondering why I didn’t include happiness. That was intentional. Being happy is obviously important but happiness comes and goes, not just in marriage, but in life. There will be moments that you aren’t happy, but that doesn’t mean you give up or move on.
Whether you’re married or single, these are traits we can all incorporate into our lives.
This post originally appeared on JasonRomano22.com and was republished with permission.
For 17 years, Jason Romano was a producer at ESPN working on shows like SportsCenter, Mike and Mike and Monday Night Football. In February 2017, Jason answered God’s call and left his dream job at ESPN to pursue ministry. He is now a speaker, media consultant, and the host of the Sports Spectrum podcast, an interview-driven show that features stories on the intersection of faith and sports. Jason has been married for 18 years to his wife Dawn and has one daughter, Sarah, now 13.