My wife and I are celebrating our 15th anniversary this month. Sometimes we wonder where the time has gone. Although we met and started dating in high school, it hasn’t seemed like that long. But we have actually been married for 15 years.
Our marriage, like many, has gone through lots of ups and downs. We’ve been tested in many areas, but here we are celebrating 15 years and with three kiddos as a result of our union. Both of us have learned a lot. As I reflect on our relationship I see at least 15 things that have helped us have a marriage that lasts. These 15 things will hopefully help you strengthen your marriage as well.
1. A strong foundation.
Large buildings stand on deep and strong foundations. On the other hand, buildings on weak foundations crumble to pieces. My marriage has lasted because we’ve built on a strong foundation.
2. Being committed.
Before marriage I rarely committed to anything, or at least not to anyone. Marrying my wife was the biggest commitment I’d ever made and the only true commitment I’d made in a relationship. Not only has that commitment made our marriage last, but our commitment to serve one another has too.
3. Lifelong learning.
We are still learning about one another. Becoming a lifelong learner of your wife will keep your marriage from being boring or stale. She’s changing and you’re changing. There will always be new things to learn, so never stop learning.
4. Never giving up on each other.
I’ve made so many mistakes in marriage from messing up our finances, to losing jobs and homes, to failed businesses, from being a bad communicator. My wife has never given up on me or our marriage. She’s made plenty of mistakes as well, and I’ve never given up on her. We promised we’d never give up, never divorce, and always keep trying to grow closer and better.
5. Addressing problems quickly.
We’ve both said and done things that have hurt one another. We’ve both done something that caused some damage to our relationship and even our family. The thing that has helped us is addressing those problems and the sooner we address them the better. Don’t let your problems fester. Address them, in love, with your spouse.
6. Choosing joy and finding the good.
Choosing joy and finding the good in your marriage is one of the best things you can do. There are so many negative things going on in the world today. There might be some negative things going on in your life as well. I’ve noticed the more I focus on the negative things and allow them to control my feelings and emotions the worse I am for my wife, my kids, and everybody else. Choosing joy and finding the good in your marriage is one of the best things you can do.
7. Not being an island.
Marriage can be very hard. So hard that you do not want to go at it alone. Don’t be an island in your marriage, in good or bad times. We’ve connected with other couples in small groups and more experienced married couples to help us. They have been a source of support and helped us gain more insight and perspective. Without those relationships our marriage would be severely challenged and maybe not even be here today.
8. Having fun together.
We’ve been in ruts where marriage and family life seems all business; schedules, calendars, things to be done, etc. Enjoy one another and find fun stuff you each like to do. Dating is crucial in this area. When we don’t date we miss some of those opportunities to have fun. Have fun with your wife as much as possible.
9. Having sex!
I feel like I can just let that sit there. Do I need to add anything else? God gave us the wonderful gift of sex to be enjoyed at its best in marriage. Those who take advantage of this gift in marriage are on the path to a long lasting marriage.
10. Raising kids.
Some of our greatest joys are because of our three kids. Of course, sometimes their behavior and choices can seem like our greatest source of frustration too. But we’d never trade any of them. Having and raising kids together whether by birth or by adoption is an amazing experience. I absolute love it, and seeing my wife interact, teach, discipline, and love them makes me love her even more.
11. Praying together.
This goes back to my first point of having a strong foundation. Our foundation is built on our belief in Jesus Christ. No matter how many times we disagree we’ll always go back to our faith. Praying together is part of that. Praying together is one of the most intimate things a couple can do. Without it, I don’t know where our marriage would be today. Feel free to share these 10 Mom Prayers with your wife today.
12. Laughing together.
I like to think I have a good sense of humor. I guess my wife does too because she laughs at my jokes…occasionally. Laughter acts like medicine in our marriage.
13. We seek to get better.
Our marriage has never been perfect, nor will it ever be. But we learned early in our marriage that our marriage can always improve. Through counseling, reading books, and learning from mentors we’ve been able to keep growing as people and as a couple.
14. Getting away periodically.
Every year in June we get away from everything for a weekend marriage retreat. It’s refreshing, reigniting, and needed for us. Sometimes we just need a break from the norm, and it’s even better when that break involves us learning about connecting better as a couple.
15. We choose to love each other despite not always being lovable.
I’m not always lovable and my wife is not either. But we’ve learned that love is more than an emotion or feeling, and it is not contingent on what the other person does or does not do. We choose to love and live out that love in action by being patient, kind, forgiving, gentle, and selfless.
I’m proud of the fact that we’ve been married for 15 years, and I’m looking forward to the next 15 and more. Making your marriage last should be at the top of your priority list. Hopefully this post will give you a nugget or two that you can apply to have the lasting and fulfilling marriage you hope for.
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What can we do to ensure our marriage lasts a lifetime?”