Debbie Putnam with 7 steps for a lasting marriage for The Consilium

Forty years ago, we said, “I do.”

Some people took bets we wouldn’t make it a year, but we never doubted. Not because of us. Because of God.

In July, a #love your spouse challenge on Facebook and Instagram invited people to post a picture of their spouse every day for a week. That gave me pause to reflect on seven things I’ve learned in the forty years we’ve spent walking together.

1. **Be committed.** First to God and then to each other. Pray together. Listen to one another. When I need advice or encouragement, a shoulder to cry on or someone to celebrate with, Van is the person I turn to first.

2. **Spend time together.** In our busy lives, sometimes it seems we hardly see one another. When that happens, Van schedules “Face-Time.” No distractions. Sitting across from one another, sharing what’s going on. How we’re both doing. Challenges and triumphs. The nitty-gritty of everyday life and the hopes and dreams of tomorrow.

3. **Spend time with family.** Our daughter and grandchildren are precious gifts. Van and I work together to plan times with them. An afternoon of board games. Going to a band performance or a soccer game. We’ve been privileged to be able to take our family on vacations to Catalina Island and Mammoth for several years. Precious moments become precious memories and help build a long-lasting relationship.

4. **Have family traditions**, especially when they center around God. When our daughters were young, I taught Sunday School. During that hour, Van took Kim and Erin for donuts, and they talked about the lesson they’d learned and started memorizing the Bible verse of the week. Every Christmas, we celebrated Advent. My heart’s desire was to make Christ the focal point of Christmas while we also enjoyed the rest of the traditions of Christmas. My daughter and grandchildren still celebrate this meaningful tradition in their home while Van and I celebrate it in ours.

5. **Spend time with friends.** Van and I go to UCLA football games with friends. We celebrate New Year’s Eve with two other couples at a restaurant called New York Grill. Since we live in California, it means we get to ring in the new year at 9:00 instead of midnight, which this morning girl likes much better than a late night! We’re in a small group at our church and enjoy potlucks as well as serving our community together.

6. **Hold hands.** We belong together. Holding hands joins us. It reminds us of our commitment to one another. It symbolizes our teamwork. In joy and sorrow, cling together and trust God to work.

7. **Laugh together.** Have fun. Life is a gift. Find the joy and humor in your day. 

Do you make spending time with your spouse a priority?

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I am a child of God, traveling in uncharted water, trusting God for His goodness in the storms and doldrums of life. Wife, mom, nana, daughter, teacher, and friend, I love to read, write, bake, and count gifts.

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