Recently, Stephanie and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. What an incredible blessing! I can honestly say we have been blessed with an incredible marriage. God has been so good to us. In the past ten years we have added to our family several times (with another one on the way). And we have lived in several different places. But through all the changes and additions, our marriage has stayed strong.
So, I thought I would share with you ten lessons I’ve learned from ten years of marriage. Here they are in no particular order (except the first one).
1. The only proper foundation is Jesus Christ. There’s really no other way. If you try to build your marriage on anything other than Jesus, it is bound to fail. I’ve seen it too many times and so have you. The only proper foundation for a strong and stable marriage is Jesus.
2. The little things make a big difference. Folding clothes, cleaning up, cooking dinner, a random hug, or kiss on the cheek. I think we fool ourselves into believing that marriage is only about big, important moments. Not true. It’s about little, everyday moments that shape the direction of your lives and your relationship.
3. Learn to laugh at yourself. My wife laughs at me when I do stupid things. She’s going to laugh at me whether I like it or not. So I better learn to laugh at myself. We take ourselves way too seriously sometimes. Laughter is an important part of a healthy marriage. Laugh with your spouse and your kids. It brings life and energy to your home.
4. You’re in this together. Who takes out the trash? Who cuts the grass? Who does the dishes? Who puts the kids to bed? Who vacuums the floor? Do you want to know the answer in our home? We do! That’s right. We’re a team. Remember, in marriage you’re on the same team. One of the biggest problems I see when I counsel married couples is that they’ve chosen up sides and they’re on different teams. They’re opposing one another instead of working together.
5. Compliment your spouse publicly. I know this sounds really simple. But have you ever heard couples who criticize each other in public? Ugly isn’t it. Instead, you should compliment one another publicly. In front of friends, family, neighbors, or church members. Let the world know why you think your spouse is so great!
6. Keep studying. You think you know your spouse when you get married. Maybe you do a little bit. But you better keep studying. Learn his/her love language, spiritual gifts, personality, likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams and desires. You need to try to earn a Master’s Degree in Marriage. Sadly, some folks don’t even have their GED!
7. Have fun! Be intentional about doing things you both enjoy. Is this harder when you have kids? Absolutely! But that makes it all the more important. Be sure to have fun!
8. Shut up and listen. This is one I’m still learning. Sometimes my mouth gets ahead of my mind if I’m not careful. I need to learn to be a better listener. You’d be amazed at what you learn when you close your mouth and open your ears.
9. Take time for maintenance. You need to have regular conversations about your marriage. Questions like, “How are we doing?” “Am I meeting your needs?” “Is there a way I can be a better husband/wife?” These may sound scary. But believe me, this is the regular maintenance of your marriage. It’s like changing the oil in your car. It may not seem very important but if you don’t do it regularly, you’ll have big problems down the road. Work on regular maintenance before the “check engine” light comes on!
10. Learn to apologize. You need to become an expert at saying things like, “I was wrong” and “Will you forgive me?” If you’re not careful, pride can cause you to avoid such phrases. That’s a bad idea. Remember, you’re not perfect. Your spouse already knows it. You need to learn to admit it.
So there you have it. Ten lessons from ten years of marriage. I’m sure there are many more that could be added. But this is just a random list of the things God continues to teach me through my wife. I am one blessed man!