Today, Amber and I celebrate 15 years of marriage.
15 years. (If you are wondering, yes… they did let us get married when we were 10)
When we got married, cell phone plans didn’t include text messaging or calling other area codes without paying long distance and social media wasn’t really even a thing yet. The camera we took with us on our honeymoon still used this stuff called film. A lot has changed in our world, in our culture and in our lives over these past 15 years. From the addition of children to taking on new ministry assignments, we’ve learned that the reality of life is always moving, shifting and changing. With all the changes come a plethora of lessons learned. To celebrate our 15 years, we thought it would be fun to share with other couples (and singles) a few of the lessons we have learned along the journey.
Here are 15 Lessons from 15 Years of Marriage:
1) Don’t make a big decision until you are in agreement
If it is a big purchase, a career decision or something else that will make an impact on your lives – get in agreement BEFORE the decision is made.
2) Get over it
Unforgiveness is a cancer to relationships. So many marriages (and friendships) suffer because of holding on to offense. Learn to forgive your spouse. Learn to forgive yourself.
3) Manage your finances together
Most couples have someone who is strong with the details and someone who is really good at spending money. Don’t make the mistake of just laying it on the detail person to make all the financial decisions. This takes partnership. A shared vision and shared goals are vital.
(Bonus thought: if you have not taken Financial Peace University together, do it! Money issues and money fights are the leading cause of divorce in America…so work together on this area).
4) Try to out serve each other
Our best days of marriage have been the days where we have tried to out serve the other person. It is wonderful to watch what happens when you get your focus off of having your needs met, and working to meet the needs of your spouse.
5) Laugh together often
The bible says “A cheerful heart is good medicine…” (Proverbs 17:22). Work will be stressful. Raising kids will stretch you at different times. Managing calendars, finances, health and the emotional toll can be a lot. Learn to laugh. Don’t be so serious. Figure out how to keep humor, fun and laughter a daily resident in your marriage, not an occasional visitor.
6) Aim to spend alone time together
Try to carve out time in the morning or in the evening to simply be alone, just the two of you. For us, this is usually in the morning before our kids wake up. We have a pot of coffee, read together and start the day with us.
Have you noticed our world has grown more connected. Next time you go out to eat, look around. Even though people are together, they are not together. We are continually working and learning on how to unplug, so that we can connect as a family. One thing we have done recently is to have a designated spot in our home where our phones “live”. It has their chargers, and it is out of the way. None of us want our kid’s memory to be full of images of us glued to our phone screen, but this is what so often happens by default. The solution? Be intentional by design. Put the phone away (what we refer to as “no phone zone”) and be together.
8) Ask and learn what your spouse is dreaming about
Do you know the dreams in your spouse’s heart? When was the last time you talked about what they are thinking and dreaming about? It is amazing to watch how this brings you together and also helps you to know how to more effectively pray for your spouse.
9) Keep growing as individuals and as a couple
If you don’t invest in you, who will? No one else can make you grow as an individual. The same is true about growing as a couple. It is hard to have health in a marriage if the individuals are not healthy. Invest, learn, read, meet with mentors and never stop growing!
10) Let your kids know whats up
I (Tyler) have looked each of my children in the eye at some point and told them that eventually they are going to grow up and leave our home, and when they do, my wife is still going to love me. What I am teaching them is that our marriage is THE priority. Amber and I were a family before we had kids. They were an addition to the family we already had made the day we said “I do”.
11) Make your anniversary special
Work to keep important things important. This doesn’t happen on accident. We try and do something special during our anniversary every year, and we are glad we have!
12) It’s not your job to “change” or “fix” each other
You can’t be your spouses savior (that role has already been taken care of…thank you Jesus!). You also can’t make your spouse your fixer upper project. It is our job to pray, love, serve and at times confront the things that need to change, however, we have to understand that neither individual has the power or ability to change or fix something in the other person. That is why we are so thankful to know Jesus and have His Spirit working within us.
13) Learn how your spouse expresses love and feels loved
There are times that couples miss what the other individual is trying to communicate. This is true when it comes to how we express love and how we feel loved. If you show love by giving kind words to your spouse, but they feel loved when they receive gifts from you, you could totally miss each other. Learn how each other expresses and feels love. (Bonus thought: read the book The Five Love Languages)
14) Don’t put an expectations on them that you can’t carry yourself
We can sometimes put an expectation or pressure on the other person that we would never want laid on us. Why do we do this?! If you want your spouse to be happy, are you happy? If you want your spouse to be helpful, are you being helpful? Do yourself a favor and be aware of the expectations that you are putting on the other individual and ask yourself if you are willing to carry those same expectations.
15) Have a foundation bigger than you
When we got married, I (Tyler) had been a type 1 diabetic for 3 years. With each of our kids there was some type of “scare” during the pregnancy. Amber was diagnosed with a vocal cord disorder about 5 years ago. Why do I bring these realities of ours up (since we rarely talk about them)? Because marriage, kids and just life in general are going to bring things to you that will put you into a place that you need a foundation bigger than you. This is what has made our marriage strong: Jesus. It hasn’t been perfect, alway pretty, or even easy, but we have a foundation that is bigger than the two of us.
Want some bonus reading?
Here are a few other posts that we have done on marriage:
We would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and wisdom that you have discovered through your years of marriage. Feel free to comment below!