Although I meet many women who are enthusiastic mothers, sadly it’s not very often that these same enthusiastic mothers are also enthusiastic wives. To hear how some of these ladies talk about their marriages or even to see how they interact with their husbands is disconcerting. So many couples seem miserable together and it scares me to think that they probably started off as excited, or almost as excited, about their spouses as I am about mine. Does being an involved and loving mother make me destined to a dull and lifeless marriage? Will my husband and I grow apart as the years pass? Is there any hope of us still being madly in love with each other 25 years from now? If there are things I can do to ensure a happy and successful marriage, what are they? For my sanity’s sake I had to find out.
I was recently speaking with a very good friend about how hard it is to balance school, work, parenting, taking time for myself, and being a wife. She reminded me that I have to keep my priorities aligned with the Word of God—my marriage is a ministry and it is the most important relationship for me to maintain, right behind my relationship with the Master, and right before my relationship with my children. Although it is tempting to focus on my career or my children or myself, I must give my relationship with my husband my all. God has called me to do that. If my priorities aren’t in line, I risk having the mundane and unfulfilling relationship that so many others have—and if my relationship isn’t glorifying the Lord, then what is the point?
That realization led me to my next endeavor…linking up with a mentor—a wife and mother whose priorities are aligned with God’s word—someone who could be an example for me. I opened myself up for whoever God would choose. Then, as He is known for doing, God allowed me to cross paths with Yolanda Jackson.
Within my first few minutes of getting to know Yolanda, I was in awe of the love and adoration with which she spoke about her family. I could tell that she was very proud of them and that they meant the world to her. She didn’t miss any opportunity to give God the glory for all that He had done and was doing in their lives. As we chatted, a man walked up to her, and I could see school-girl excitement in her eyes. They exchanged a few words, and when he walked away she said, “That was Mr. Jackson.” I couldn’t help but smile. It was the cutest thing. In that moment I knew that she possessed the secrets to a happy marriage—and I wanted her to pass them along to me.
Yolanda and Mr. Jackson met while she was a sophomore at Crenshaw High School, in Los Angeles, California. She was a majorette, and he was a football player. They immediately clicked, courted, and fell in love.
Their relationship had a few bumps when they reached adulthood, however. For example, it took a while for them to make it to the altar—and not because Yolanda wasn’t ready. Mr. Jackson gave her a friendship ring, followed by a promise ring. This was great, but next there was an “after promise ring,” followed by an engagement ring and then an “after engagement ring.” Yolanda laughed recalling it all. She knew that she wanted to be with him, but wasn’t quite sure why the rings hadn’t yet led to the wedding. She finally told him that she was going to have to explore other options. He assured her that she was who he wanted and shortly after that, they married. 30 years later, they’re still together—happily married. The following are the gems Yolanda attributes to the success of her marriage:
• Make sure God is at the head of your marriage. Stay in constant prayer and study His word. That will help you to stay focused on His desires for your relationship.
• Have a Vision Statement. While some couples choose to write theirs down, the Jackson’s is more informal. Their goal is to always have something that they are working toward together. They study together and constantly dream and plan for their future. It keeps them talking and excited about life.
• Be honest about what you’re feeling. Holding things in can make you bitter and angry, and that often pushes people away. Communication is extremely important. Say how you feel and then let it go. Don’t try to manipulate situations or force the outcome that you want.
• Have patience and be understanding. Don’t focus so much on your spouse or who they should be or how they can meet your needs. Remember that you are both children of God and He loves you both the same. Your spouse is going to make some mistakes and so are you. Don’t try to fix your mate. Work on bettering yourself and allow God to fix your situations.
• Use touchstones to overcome stress and adversity. Touchstones are past moments that were overwhelming at the time you experienced them, but in hindsight, they were situations that worked out for the good. Looking back, touchstones allow you to see that “God had a ram in the bush,” and that He was in control all along. (Romans 8: 28) An example of a touchstone for Yolanda was her recent season of unemployment. She wanted to work, but the economic climate made securing employment quite difficult. It was a tough period for her, but in hindsight she realized that she needed a break. That period gave her an opportunity to relax, help her daughter with her business venture, and be available for the birth of her granddaughter. She wouldn’t have had the freedom to be as actively involved in those important life moments had she been working.
• Make sure you are on one accord with your spouse. Make important decisions together. This one required Yolanda to do a lot of praying. She had always been independent and wasn’t used to consulting with anyone before making decisions, but she had to change her behavior because it wasn’t conducive to the strong relationship that she desired.
• Ask God to connect you with other Christians who you can talk with and who will stand with you in prayer when difficulties arise. It’s not a matter of telling the intimate details of your relationship, but it is a matter of obtaining strength and encouragement from others who may have been through similar situations.
• Make sure your affairs with your spouse are in order. You’ll feel like strangers if you don’t give your marriage the time and attention it requires in order to flourish. Your children grow up and have their own lives. Your spouse is your future.
• It is important to have “Hot Date Nights,” as Yolanda describes them. She and Mr. Jackson LOVE spending time together. They go to the movies and/or out to dinner at least twice a month. That keeps the fire burning.
For Yolanda, the best part about being married to such a wonderful man is that she has someone to grow with. She and Mr. Jackson have each others’ backs. They are best friends and business partners. Giving 100% of themselves to their marriage allows for extremely fulfilling lives. Their marriage is an excellent example of love, commitment, learning, partnership, spiritual growth and the many blessings that accompany being in the will of God.
Again, I thank God for allowing me to meet a wife and mother who is genuinely enthusiastic about both of those roles. Yolanda’s story inspires me and I am using her gems as a roadmap for my own marriage. I don’t know about you, but I’m already planning some “Hot Date Nights.”