Yesterday was our 13th wedding anniversary! It’s been incredible. And those who told us it would get better as time goes on… they were right!
Do we have a perfect marriage… NO! Do we have conflict… YES! Is it really getting better each year… YES!
Can you experience the same thing… MAYBE!
Every marriage is as unique as the individuals that come together. You cannot possibly have the same experience my wife Laura and I have had. But you CAN stay happily married at least 13 years!
Three things make it possible to stay happily married:
1. Marry the right person
After a person’s relationship with God, the person they marry is THE MOST important decision in life.
The right spouse…
- lifts up
- unleashes potential
- makes dreams possible
The wrong spouse…
- tears down
- denies possibilities
- prevents dreams from happening
I’ve been asked countless times, “How do I know if she/he is the one?” In other words, are they the right person?
Here are a few tips for discerning if that person is the right one for you:
- You’ve listed what’s important in spouse they fit the most important issues
- You can’t imagine a future without them
- You’re better together than separate
- Mentors/friends/family affirm the relationship
- You agree about #2 below
2. Build on the right philosophy
Early in my friendship with Laura I asked her important questions. For example, “What do you think the role of a wife is in marriage?” “What kind of family do you want to have?” “What do you think about kids?” The answers to those questions helped me discern that we were on the same page.
Philosophy is the grid that guides decisions. It’s the way we see and interpret life. Having an aligned marriage philosophy is essential for a couple to stay happily married!
What does the right philosophy include?
- The purpose of marriage
- Conflict resolution
- Role of husband and wife
- Good to include parenting issues too
Where do you get the “right” philosophy?
Examples: parents, mentors, those who have been married 10+ years, but especially those married 25+ years. Pick their brains and learn how they experience being happily married.
Books: Laura and I have been reading books on marriage and relationships since we first dated. Here are a few of the books we’ve read and recommend.
- I Kissed Dating Goodbye – a good place to start on the dating adventure. At the very least consider the purpose behind dating.
- Choosing God’s Best – My wife’s parents gave this to me when we started dating!
- Passion and Purity – a classic we still use with teens.
- Shadow Almighty – Laura and I read this while dating. It’s the amazing testimony of Jim and Elizabeth Elliot. An ageless classic story.
- The Exemplary Husband: A Biblical Perspective – the title says it all. A little dense (maybe even boring) but solid biblical study on the topic.
- The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective – same as above. Read with discernment. We do not endorse this position completely.
- Rocking the Roles: Building a Win-Win Marriage – given to me while dating. Worth reading during that season, especially in a group discussion.
- *Love & Respect – this is a MUST READ book! The Eggerich’s ministry site is HERE. I wish we would have read this before our marriage. This is one of our standard wedding gifts. Our church has gone through the DVD conference/study and it’s not an overstatement to say it’s changed our marriage radically! Build your marriage on the philosophy laid out here and you will stay happily married!
- *Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy – this is also a MUST READ book! I’ll be writing/reviewing more about this book soon.
3. Get wise counsel/advise
My wife and I are passionate about helping college students and young adults date and marry well. The experience we had with many mentors is likely why. We weren’t perfect. But with the input of many great people we had a blessed dating experience, engagement, and 13 years of marriage and counting.
Other than building and centering our lives around Jesus (THE key), three pieces of advice we heard during our engagement guide us. We took these to heart and have built our marriage around them. We write these in every wedding card we give.
- Stay best friends. If you’re not marrying your best friend you’re in trouble!
- Never get too old to hold hands. 13 years and going strong!
- Have fun! We may never have a lot of money, material things, or a lot of hair! But we have FUN! Now that we have three boys 10, 7, and 5, it’s more important than ever! We have family fun that includes Family Night at Chick Fil A every Tues, family game night, and regular fun playing ball, riding bikes, and laughing and cracking each other up. Laughter and fun are definitely good medicine!
You CAN be happily married at least 13 years. Be intentional. Work at it. Invest in it.