Making Marriage Work 3: Complimentary

February–and specifically Valentine’s Day—is the love month.  I thought for sure I was getting engaged on Valentine’s 38 years ago. Alas, it was not to be for another month.  Such a waste of the day of love.

Yes, the romance of Valentine’s, engagement and weddings is special.  But marriage is about much more than those celebrations.  Marriage is about the realities that live out that love day after day, year after year.  Steve and I still love and enjoy each other 38 years later.  We have three amazing children and five remarkable grandchildren, who call me Jeedoo.

We know it is God’s grace that we have continued to truly delight in our life together.  But there are some truths that have contributed to our peace and joy and love.  I will share just three of them, with a few specifics in each.  The three realities:  We are compatible.  We are complementary.  We are complimentary. I wrote about these last year, with great response.  So here they are again, with a few additions.



This word, spelled with an “i”, means, among other things, “to respect and to speak well of.”

I think one of the most destructive things husbands and wives do is speak ill of each other—to each other, to others, in complaining, in anger, even in jest. Which is so sad, since this person is the most important one in your life or my life.

Here are three arenas in which Steve and I seek to live out “complimentary” as much as we can:

In public

We are careful to always speak of each with love and respect, which we don’t find difficult because we both love and respect the other.

We often tell stories of our lives together, and sometimes we joke a little—especially about our long dating relationship, always careful not to be hurtful.   We truly appreciate the character and lifestyle of the other, and we make sure our public words always reflect that.  Sometimes I am amazed at the kind and affirming things Steve says about me.  I find it easy to talk about the incredible and humble person he is.

In prayer  

We pray for each other.  A lot.  We ask each other what prayer is needed.  We pray then, and continuing.  Steve often asks how he can be a better husband to me, then asks God to enable him to do that.  I do the same for him.

When we see an area of challenge or struggle in the other, we pray more than give advice.  An important prayer lesson that has helped me tremendously is to always pray for, not against. It’s so easy to see something we don’t like, even in a spouse, and to pray against that “problem.”  Instead, we find it is better to pray for the godly characteristics we desire to see developed.  God knows what to do with it.

In encouragement  

One of the best parts of our marriage is how we encourage each other!!  We believe in the other.   We are supportive when God gives the other a ministry assignment.  For example, we have both written books.  For one to focus on writing, the other has to pick up more on family needs.

Sometimes one of us will have to sacrifice for the other to say yes to an opportunity.  We view each other’s responsibilities and callings as equally important and we partner together to make them happen.

I never get over how much Steve believes in me, and am so grateful for his help and encouragement.  He thinks I can do anything--his affirmation of who I am and what I can do is amazing!  I pray I encourage him as much.

Be assured, our marriage is not perfect.  I am often strongly opinionated, even stubborn.  Steve can be pretty focused on what he is doing.   But we seek out the other’s ideas and input as we make decisions together.   On the very rare occasion we can’t come to agreement, the person most knowledgeable or most affected will make the decision.

We have worked through lots, laughed and cried together, and learned so much from each other.  These truths—being compatible, complementary and complimentary—have been great helps along the journey, giving us a beautiful blessed alliance.

What about you?   Are you compatible with your mate?  Do you both complement and compliment each other?   If you are not married and hope to be, are these characteristics on your “list to be and look for”?C2013 Judy Douglass