Relationship Lessons Learned with Jac Conlon
Welcome to the second ever Love and Money Matters Lessons Learned!
A couple months ago I asked you, my dear readers, to give me some questions you’d love to have answered by people who’ve been in a relationship longer than you. The idea being to tap into their experience to learn how to make it as a couple and have the best relationship possible.
My wife, Andrea, and I had already kind of been doing this. When I meet someone who’s been married longer than me, I ask what they’re doing to make it work.
Not just how they manage their money (in fact I NEVER ask this), but how they do life together with their partner, dream together, and resolve conflict together. After all, how a couple handles money is really just a reflection of their hopes, fears, values, and how well they work together.
We all came up with the following 9 questions designed to help us learn how to make it as couples and have the best relationships possible…to learn from the mistakes of others before making them for ourselves…to lean on the experience of others to avoid fights and strengthen our own relationships.
- What mistake in your relationship have you learned from the most and hope to never repeat?
- What do you believe now that you did not believe earlier and would have helped you in your relationship?
- What’s been harder about your relationship than you expected? (Stole this one from you)
- What’s been easier about your relationship than you expected? (Stole this one from you, too)
- Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself on your wedding day?
- When you think about your relationship, what are you most proud of? Why?
- When you think about your relationship, what do you regret the most and why?
- What are your thoughts on keeping things “fresh” over the course of a relationship?
- If you could ask the people reading this to do one thing, what would it be? Why?
Last time, my friend Lee Mowatt answered these questions. Today, we have our second round of answers, courtesy of Jac Conlon.
Introducing Jac Conlon
Here are the basics.
Jac enjoyed a 46 year long marriage with Maggie Conlon. Together they raised 4 children, fostered even more, and managed to pay for it all on Jac’s income as a truck driver.
After decades behind-the-wheel, Jac finally retired and started travelling the world to visit his children, grandchildren, and volunteer with some of his favorite non-profit organizations.
But there are some more things you need to know about Jac as they’ll give helpful context for his answers.
First, he’s a man of great faith and he’s learned to lean on his Christian beliefs over the years to see him through some tough times.
In some of his answers you’ll see references to Bible passages that have influenced his thinking. If you don’t share the same faith as Jac, that’s okay.
Just please don’t do yourself and your partner the disservice of dismissing his answers outright. There’s still something here for all of us to learn because…
Second, Jac hasn’t always had it easy when it comes to family life. For starters, Jac never really got to know his father as he was killed by German soldiers during World War 2 when Jac was just a toddler.
More relevant to his answers, though, Jac lost his wife to a tragic accident in 2009. One minute Jac and some family were on vacation having a great time, then in an instant he was a widow. Keep this in mind as you read his answers. You’ll find his answers take on added depth and urgency, which is a powerful lesson in and of itself.
Lastly, Jac is my grandfather. I’ve literally known him my entire life. I had the privilege of watching him and my grandmother work on their relationship and try to figure it out. It wasn’t always pretty, but there’s a lot we can learn from their relationship and Jac’s answers below.
1: What mistake in your relationship have you learned from the most and hope to never repeat?
Taking my wife for granted and letting my marriage become mundane and lackluster.
I didn’t realize that each day with my wife was a gift from God that could be taken from me at any moment. I presumed upon the future.
2: What do you believe now that you did not believe earlier and would have helped you in your relationship?
That a woman’s needs and wants are different from mine and to find out what they are.
That she needs to know that she is number one in my life and that I want to serve her before I serve myself.
“So let each one of you in particular so love his wife as himself”(Eph 5:33).
3: What was harder about your relationship than you expected?
Not to let my desire to be involved in Christian ministry or my work schedule usurp my desire to serve my wife and to prove it to her by my actions, words, deeds and to spend time with her.
4: What was easier about your relationship than you expected?
To love her and want to spend more time with her than anyone else.
5: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself on your wedding day?
Say “I love you”, not “love ya”, many times a day.
Keep in touch during the day. Let her know I am thinking of her.
A lot of non-sexual touching, holding hands, hugging, arm around her, giving her foot rubs, etc.
Learning her “Love Language” and doing it.
Don’t go to bed upset with each other. Be quick to say “I’m sorry, will you forgive me?” and to offer forgiveness to her when needed.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you”(Eph 4:32).
Make a habit, daily, of praying with each other, out loud, so that we hear each other’s prayers which ministers to each other’s’ spirits. “Those that pray together, stay together.”
P.S. Grammy wrote in her journal, Nov 16, 2007, these words on forgiveness. “The miracle of forgiveness, love and peace are ours to experience because of what Jesus did 2000 years ago. Time is not an issue, our circumstances don’t change the truth, our hardness of heart is the only hindrance to enjoying God’s blessings. ‘Stir up my heart Lord- soften the barren ground. I want my heart to be soft soil so that You will grow, a place where You are worshiped and welcomed.'”
6: When you think about your relationship, what are you most proud of?
That I made her life happy by loving her and allowing her to be a stay-at-home mom and housewife.
She never wanted to work at a job and I never wanted her to. I took good care of her so that she could do what she wanted, when she wanted and if she wanted.
7: When you think about your relationship, what do you regret the most and why?
That I loved her but I didn’t cherish (to hold dear and to cultivate with care and affection) her. I should have put my hands on her cheeks, looked her in the eyes and said, “Do you know how much I love you and how beautiful you are to me?”.
I also regret that it took too long for me to learn how to put into practice the answers to #5.
8: What are your thoughts on keeping things “fresh” over the course of a relationship?
To remember and to do the things we did and said to each other when we were courting and to not allow ourselves to become “an old married couple.”
9: If you could ask the people reading this to do one thing, what would it be?
To ask God to reveal His love for them and then to share that love with others.
Romans 5:5: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us”, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for, love will cover a multitude of sins.”1 Pet 4:8
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