Katie and I celebrated 10 years of marriage this past weekend. Last night we went out to celebrate together and we’re talking through the last 10 years, what we’ve learned, where we’ve come from. I thought I’d share some of the things we’ve learned in no particular order:
Deal with your baggage quickly. You will bring baggage into your marriage. Past relationships, your parents marriage, hurt, abuse. Deal with it as quickly as possible. Don’t push it under a rug or pretend it isn’t there, it is.
Set goals. When we got married, we made 5 year goals. At year 5, we worked on 10. Now, we are working through goals for 15 and til the day we die. Things like: what do we want our kids to know (discipleship plan), financial goals, places we’d like to travel, health we’d like to have. If you don’t have goals, you don’t get anywhere in your marriage, at least, not anywhere worth going. It also clarifies what is important in your marriage. Because some of our goals cost money, that dictates things in our marriage.
Fight for oneness. When you argue, and you will. Couples who say they don’t are lying. So, when you fight, fight for oneness. Don’t fight to win, because then you lose.
Set each other up to win. Too many couples seem set on making their spouse lose. In their career, at home, in their marriage. Instead, set them up to win. Encourage them, cheer them on louder than anyone else.
Define your roles. The bible is clear about what roles we are to live in as men and women in marriage (Ephesians 5, Titus 2, 1 Peter 3). Read those passages, discuss them, decide how you will live them out in your marriage.
Decide you will die before leaving. I think too many couples fail because divorce is always an option, it’s always there. I had a mentor tell me, “Stay married even if it kills you.” To survive in marriage, you will need that kind of certainty.
Know how your spouse hears I love you. Your spouse has different emotional needs than you do, a different love language. Learn it, speak it, meet it. If you don’t, someone else will.
Stay pure. Porn, romance novels, fantasy worlds. These will kill your marriage. I’ve sat across from too many couples who thought these things weren’t a big deal, they will destroy your marriage.
Find your identity in Christ, not your spouse. Your spouse did not die on the cross and rise from the dead for you, Jesus did. Your spouse cannot be Jesus for you. Find your identity in Christ, nothing else will fulfill it. Grow closer to Christ and this makes all the difference in your marriage.
Your kids come second. Don’t be the couple that says after 25 years of marriage, “we spent our whole marriage pouring into our kids, then they moved out and we don’t know each other, so we’re getting a divorce.” Your kids matter, spend time with them, but your spouse comes first. What this looks like changes with the seasons of your family, but they come first.
Read about marriage. Everytime I preach on marriage someone will tell me, “I’d have a better marriage if I knew what you knew.” The way to grow in your marriage is to be around couples who have healthy marriages, ask them questions, but to read about marriage. Read at least 1 book a year on marriage. Think about it, you spend all this time being married, shouldn’t you know how to do it and grow in it?
Dates and getaways. Have a weekly date night and get away at least once a year without kids. This shouldn’t be up for discussion. This one thing has done more good in our marriage than almost anything else, except for #9.