26 for 26

On August 26, 2018, Tracy and I celebrated our 26th Wedding Anniversary. Twenty-six years ago, we pledged before God (and Judge W.T. Spicer), to stay together, “for richer or poorer, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” In honor of this achievement, allow me to share with you 26 things that I have learned during 26 years of marriage. I hope that they will help your marriage last even longer!

  1. Life is better with a life partner – Going through life alone is difficult…and lonely. The Bible tells us that two are better than one; because they can help each other become successful. (Eccl. 4:9) God did not create us to live life alone. Studies have shown that married people live longer & healthier lives than single people.
  2. Discover the for your marriage – Every married couple has a reason why God put them together. Finding that reason is the key to a meaningful, enduring marriage.
  3. Don’t take yourself too seriously – Be able to laugh at yourself (and your spouse)! Some of the best moments of marriage are also the funniest!
  4. Cherish your time together – Don’t take for granted the years that you share with your spouse. Tomorrow is not promised to either of you. Appreciate each other and the life that you have together.
  5. Stay together – An enduring marriage does not happen by accident. Be intentional and determined to keep your marriage intact. Divorce is easy, take the hard route.
  6. Pray together – It sounds so cliché, but I have found it to be so true: couples that pray together stay together. It will create transformative intimacy with each other.
  7. Fruit takes time to grow and develop – the fruit from your marriage will not be seen early in the marriage, keep sowing and keep looking for the harvest. It will show up eventually.
  8. Forgive each other often – Don’t hold onto past hurts and offenses. Forgive and let it go so that you can move forward together.
  9. Say “I love you” – What’s love got to do with it? A lot! These are the three most powerful words in the universe. Make sure your spouse hears them from you.
  10. Love is an action – Saying “I love you” to your spouse is important. Showing your love to your spouse is even more important.
  11. Your spouse is irreplaceable – Children are made to leave you. Your spouse is made to stay with you. Don’t prioritize your kids above your mate.
  12. Prioritize what’s important – God, Spouse, Children, Work, Everything Else.
  13. Counseling is a tool, use it – Whether it is individual or as a couple get the help that you need. Resist the urge to suffer in silence and isolation. This is exactly what the devil wants you to do.
  14. It takes a village – Build a community around you of like-minded, pro-marriage people.
  15. Your spouse is a mirror, don’t be afraid of your reflection – Your spouse can see things about you that you cannot, be receptive to his or her insights and not defensive.
  16. Death brings life – View the inevitable ups and downs of marriage as a chance to die to your own selfish desires and become a better spouse.
  17. New realities bring new opportunities – When things change unexpectedly and sometimes for the worse, learn to roll with it and challenge yourself to find the good in it.
  18. When you leave for the day, kiss your spouse goodbye – It sounds trite, but in this fallen, crazy world that we live in, we cannot take for granted that we will see our spouse again at the end of the day.
  19. Do you – Develop outside interests and hobbies as an individual. This enriches you.
  20. Do each other – Develop common interests and hobbies as a couple. This enriches your marriage.
  21. Intimacy is in-to-me-see – Intimacy comes from active involvement and interest in each other’s lives. Share your life and yourself with your spouse as a matter of habit, not convenience.
  22. Tell them something good – Nurture you spouse by telling them 1-3 good things (or value statements) about themselves every day.
  23. Face conflict, don’t avoid it – Try not to avoid IMOFs (Intense Moments Of Fellowship) i.e. arguments, with your spouse. Ignoring or suppressing issues will only compound the problem when it comes out later…and it WILL come out later.
  24. Speak in FEELINGS, not THOUGHTS – Use feeling words to communicate with your spouse, especially during IMOFs. For example, “Honey, when you yelled at me yesterday, I felt embarrassed, hurt, and belittled.” Your thoughts can be debated for accuracy, your feelings cannot.
  25. Don’t be stingy – Share your marriage with younger couples who can benefit from what you have learned about marriage (both successes AND failures).
  26. 50-50 Is A Myth – Things will never be evenly split in your marriage. Don’t frustrate yourself trying to achieve this. In different seasons of your marriage, one spouse will do more than the other. This is by God’s design. Find the right fit for your marriage, not the right split!

Bonus Nuggets:

Speak each other’s language often – Your spouse has a unique love language that expresses love to them. Discover that language, become fluent in it, and use it regularly!

Create levels of marital relationship – Keep your marriage growing by sharing it not only with younger married couples, but also with peer couples who can relate to you, and older couples who can mentor and advise you.

Worship Together – Find a place of worship that you both like and can grow spiritually in, attend it together and get actively involved together.

Know your season – Marriages have seasons, like just about everything else that God has created. Learn to understand what each season is, approximately when it begins and ends, and what season your marriage is currently in.

Not my, your, his, or her money, but OUR money – In marriage the two shall become one. (Mk. 10:8) This most certainly includes each of your finances. Change your mentality and your verbiage when it comes to money matters in your marriage. Then, the results will change.

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