15 things I learned in 15 years of marriage
Marriage: How does it work? Who is doing it well? The Bachelor certainly isn’t helping us figure it out.
While I don’t have all the answers, I do have a decade and a half of experience.
Here are my 15 takeaways from 15 years of marriage:
- The wedding isn’t the end, but the beginning. Our romance culture always ends the movies when the couple says “I do.” The guy got the girl and they lived “happily ever after.”
Turns out this is only true in the movies. In real life, the wedding is just the beginning of two selfish people learning what it looks like to love someone unconditionaly every day.
- It’s never 50/50 it’s 100% 100%
We both clean the house, take care of children and go to the grocery store. I cook, and he mows the lawn. We never keep score, we just serve to make our family work.
- People don’t have marriage problems, they have single people problems in a marriage. Single friends, the best thing you can offer your future spouse is to offer your BEST self. That means getting out of debt, going to counseling, having that long-overdue talk with your dad or getting into the gym. Healthy people attract healthy people and have much healthier marriages.
- You can’t complete each other. There is only one savior and your boyfriend or girlfriend is not it. Two broken people don’t make a good marriage. Become whole and complete and loved by Jesus BEFORE you get into a relationship, your future spouse will thank you.
- Talk about what kind of pizza you like. Ok, this one is a joke but I love all the veggies and he loves all the meat…we end up getting half and half but I always joke, “We did not discuss this important topic before we got married.”
- There will be seasons when one of you is not easy to love. Those are the times it is ESSENTIAL to have a Christ-centered marriage. When one person is being a pain in the butt (it’s usually me, let’s be honest) the other person has to love, not because they deserve it, but because Christ modeled that kind of love for US when NONE of us deserved it.
- A guy can’t give you what they don’t have. If your boyfriend doesn’t understand and possess the love of Christ, how can he possibly offer you sacrificial love in return?
- You change. Through seasons of life, you watch each other change careers, become parents, and grow up!
The band Journey said it best in their song Faithfully, “I get the joy of rediscovering you.” Never stop dating and getting to know each other.
- It is beautiful but it is hard. Marriage was created to give us a better glimpse of how much Christ loves us. Find a spouse that loves Jesus more than he loves you.
- Integrity matters. I’ll be honest I used to think this was dumb. In the 15 years, we have been married, Bryan has never ridden alone in the car or had dinner alone with anyone of the opposite sex (in groups fine, alone…not fine).
Known as “The Billy Graham Rule” the premise is to: “avoid any situation that would have even the appearance of compromise or suspicion.”
If temptation is the side of the cliff, he takes 20 steps back, just to be sure there isn’t even a chance of falling.
Now I look at his standards of integrity with so much thankfulness and have adopted the Billy Grahm Rule as well.
- Protect your eyes. Speaking of integrity, one thing I’ve always respected about Bryan is the habit he has of “protecting his eyes.” He has safeguards on his computer to make sure no suggestive ads come through. When we were in NYC and the ads of lingerie models were in our face, he looked at the M&M store instead.
Develop habits early of having less plastic images in your brain to serve as a comparison to your spouse.
He says, “I want you to be my definition of beauty, not photoshopped people.”
- Exclusivity is the fuel to romance…not experience. I’ve heard the lines of “you need to date around so you know what you want” or my least favorite lie “Try it before you buy it.”(gag me).
I’ve learned having 100 exes doesn’t make you understand your ONE any better. It just brings more baggage and more comparison into the marriage. We all want to be seen as our spouses’ one and only. That starts when you are young protecting your heart.
- You never have it all figured out. Over the years we have gone to three marriage retreats and read lots of marriage books too. (My favorite is Cherish by Gary Thomas.)
Never stop learning from experts and those further ahead than you in marriage.
- Be the first to say your sorry. But really though.
- The best thing you can give your kids is a good marriage. Don’t get so lost in the kids you forget about dating your spouse. Kids don’t need you at their beck and call 24/7. They need mommy’s and daddy’s who love each other.
I’d love your feedback! Married friends: What’s a piece of advice you would share. Single friends, what do you think of this list. What number surprised you?