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17 Things I’ve Learned in 17 Years of Marriage

17 Things I’ve Learned in 17 Years of Marriage

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Thanks so much for joining us for our Encouragement for Imperfect Wives Series! We hope you’ll be blessed, encouraged, challenged and comforted all at once. Please let us know if you need prayer – we’d love to pray for you!


I know what you’re probably thinking. “That’s an odd number!” Am I right? But this year is our Grandiversary. {BTW, I made that up, so you’re not uninformed. You’ve heard of a Grand Birthday, or a Golden Birthday, haven’t you? Well, if not, it’s the birthday that you have that falls on the day you were born. For instance, if you were born on December 18 (like me), your 18th birthday will be your Grand Birthday. Likewise, my made up Grandiversary was our 17th anniversary, which fell on October 17th.} With me now? So that’s why I chose 17.

I have loved being married to my husband for all 17 years of marriage. He is my very best friend, and we have lots of fun together (in and out of the bedroom – *badumbum*). However, life isn’t always fairytale land. We are two human people with human problems. We put ourselves first, make mistakes, hurt each other, and act like fools. But I’m happy to say that I am deeper in love with this man than ever. I posted this meme on our anniversary, and it’s so true:

knowledge can last CS Lewis

I realize that is hard to read for some, so here’s the text:

Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go…
But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love.
Love in this second sense — love as distinct from “being in love” — is not merely a feeling.
It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriage) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God…
“Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise.
It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.

C.S. Lewis, from Mere Christianity

Below are 17 things I have learned over these past 17 years as a wife. Some of them took longer to sink in than others. Some of them I’m still working on. I hope these ideas can help you in your marriage, wherever you are in your journey as “one.”

17. Play to your common interests.

You don’t have to like all the same things. My hubby is a sports fan. I’m not. However, I have learned to cheer for his favorite teams. (I admit that I kind of tune him out when he starts going on about stats and stuff though. Forgive me, Bear!) But we LOVE watching movies together, listening to music together, reading together and even writing together. We love spending time together.

16. Put yourself in his shoes.

I realize you had a hard day with the kids and just need some time to unwind, on your own. But it’s possible that he had a hard day, too, and needs his own time to unwind. Yeah, right! Whatever! He wouldn’t do that for me! But it’s not your job to make sure the sides are “even.” Your job is to look at him through Jesus’ eyes and take care of him in the same way you’d want to be treated.

15. Speak encouraging words, not discouraging ones.

I don’t know if you realize this, but the words you say to your husband are crucial to his heart and his outlook. Have you heard of the contentious woman? I have been her. She’s an ugly, bitter woman, and I’m not proud of her at all. I’d much rather be a Proverbs 31 woman. Smile with encouraging words and notice him walk straighter and strive for even more praise!

14. Forgiveness is imperative.

You may have been hurt deeply by something he’s done, but the Lord has forgiven you of so much, can you really hold something over your husband’s head? Barring abuse (and even that is forgivable), please seek to forgive your husband, with Jesus’ help, as soon as possible. It’s your choice to hold onto anger or to let it go. Don’t let anger, frustration and bitterness fester. I read Unmending the Veil a couple years ago by a gal who is now a friend of mine. It completely changed my entire perspective on forgiveness. I suggest you give it a read!

13. It’s okay to let him lead.

In fact, he’s supposed to! Even if his personality is not the command-man leader-type, it’s his God-given role to lead your family. It might take some work (like with me, and I’m still a work in progress at this whole submission thing), but you’ll be amazed if you step aside and give him the opportunity lead. And you are his support-person, his help-meet, his Adam’s rib. Be there for him in thick and thin, and don’t rub his mistakes in his face. (No “See, you should have done what I said we should do!”)

12. Steven Curtis Chapman is awesome.

I mean, the man has an entire album dedicated to and literally all about his wife and their love. Over the years, Jerry and I have listened along and related with I Will Be Here, Go There with You, Celebrate You, the love songs in All About Love, and most recently, Together. There’s something encouraging about seeing a godly example of a couple in love. Jerry and I will probably never tire of hearing him come up with new love songs for Mary Beth.

11. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.

I don’t think this means you need to settle an argument before going to bed. But since the Bible also says, “Be angry and sin not,” I’m assuming that some sort of truce can be made before you go to sleep. You are best friends. Kiss, make up, and work it out the next day, when both of you are well-rested and clear-headed.

10. Learn his love language and speak it.

I admit I’m still working on this. His is Acts of Service, which is completely foreign to me, therefore hard for me to speak. But I’ve seen amazing things happen when I do, so I’m trying to speak it more. He feels so loved when he comes home to find the house in order. You can see my problem, right? I’d love prayer in this one. Do you know your husband’s love language?

9. Save the best for him.

Mama, I know it’s hard. You’ve given all of your energy, smiles, hugs, kisses away allllll day to your little ones, so when hubby comes home, you want be alone, you want to slip into your sweats, and maybe even head to bed (alone). But your hubby deserves to be treated like royalty, at least sometimes! No one expects you to dress to the nines and have a royal feast laid out every night. But make an effort to show him how important he is to you. He deserves more than your leftovers each day.

8. Be his biggest fan.

You are the one whose opinion matters most to him. Your words of praise and approval mean more to him than anyone else on earth. Likewise, when you’re disappointed in him, those words of discouragement tear him down more than anyone else can. Wield this power wisely. Choose to be a cheerleader, not a tax collector.

7. Be best friends.

Spend all the time you can together. Go out together. Read together. Play together. Talk together. Have fun together. Cry together. Remember when you were a teenager and had a bestie? Do it with your husband. Be forewarned: If you are a big talker and your husband is not, you might want to choose another close friend or family member to just chat with. It might be overwhelming to your husband to listen to mundane discussions of recipes, minor child accidents of the day, or t.v. episodes. You know your husband best and can gauge what he can handle. Don’t place unnecessary pressure on him.

6. Make your sex life a priority.

Making love to your husband is such a beautiful, precious gift. Sometimes life and schedules can get in the way, but it’s so important to make sure you are connecting in this way. And honestly, girls, it’s so much fun!

5. Pray.

Pray together at least once every day. Pray for each other throughout the day. Have you seen War Room yet? You must. We have not been great with this one, but we are working on changing it. My friend Kaylene has a great series of 40 Days of Praying over Your Husband you should check out!

4. Marriage needs to be 100/100.

It’s not 50/50 or 75/25 or 25/75. Partners should be giving their all in their biblical roles. No score-keeping, no “I give more to this relationship than you do!” Just each giving 100% all the time.

3. Children should never be central to a marriage.

Having children can certainly enhance a marriage. You see your spouse in a new way when he holds your child for the first time. But keep your husband first. It’s all-too-easy to put that precious little bundle ahead of your man. She’s so tiny and helpless! But your hubby still needs you, too. This is one I really wish I’d grasped much sooner than I did.

2. It’s better to not fight than to be right.

As humans, we usually feel we’re the one in the right, and sometimes it might be true. But is it worth the anger, silence and division? I don’t think so. If it’s not worth that, just let it go.

1. My husband is my brother in Christ.

This simple yet life-changing fact was in the amazing book by Gary Thomas, A Lifelong Love, and similarly mentioned (as “Your Husband Is Your Neighbor”) in Sheila Wray Gregoire’s equally amazing book that I received for free in exchange for review (which you can see if you click on the link), 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage. Think about it: Shouldn’t you treat your husband better than you treat your neighbor? Yet we usually treat complete strangers better than we treat those we love the most! You know, to take it even further, once married, the two of us are now “one” so this means if he is hurting, I hurt too! So don’t hurt yourself by causing division and pain with your other half.

Again, I hope some of these will save you a bit of heartache if you’re just starting out in your marriage, or at least give you some ideas to help you to turn your marriage around or improve it.

Note: I’ve updated this post to go with my newest series for wives who know they aren’t perfect but want to let Jesus work through them to better their marriages. I hope you’ll find encouragement if you’re an imperfect wife, like I am!

 

17 things I have learned over these past 17 years of marriage. Some of them took longer to sink in than others. Some of them I’m still working on.

Jenn

I'm a Christian wife to an amazing man and a stay-at-home-teaching mom to four special & incredible boys (14, 12.5, 10.5, & 8).  Sign up for posts, deals, & updates. Find me on Facebook (Writer page) (Fan page) (Community group), Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jenn, this is heartfelt and beautiful. Please put it in the series.

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