35 Things I’ve Learned in 35 Years of Marriage

Today is Jim and my’s 35th anniversary!  Some days I can hardly believe it and other times it feels like, really is that all?  :)  We have a pretty unique situation since I was 16 and he was 18 when we got married. We had a LOT going against us.  Even our actual marriage ceremony was a disaster.  My husband passed out twice, I gave someone a rose and they threw it on the floor and stomped on it.  My dad and his dad got into a fight on the church steps AND it was the first major blizzard of the year.  I’ll have to share all the details in a later post because there is a lot more to the story.  
So celebrating 35 years is a HUGE deal for us.  

Our marriage truly is a gift from God!  


35 Things I’ve Learned:
1.  Marriage is HARD work!  It doesn’t just happen.  In fact I can guarantee that if you live with that attitude you won’t have a lasting vibrant marriage. Don’t settle for average.
2.  Don’t try and fix your spouse.  It doesn’t work and leads to intense frustration and bitterness. Then you have a whole new set of problems. WORK on YOU! You’re the only one you can change!
3.  Be a Good Finder! Look for the good in your spouse, it’s there.  Use this principle when your frustrated and trying to do  #2.
4. Date night is crucial.  You have to invest in you as a couple. Make each other first, not your kids. For approximately 25 years of our marriage we have done a weekly date night.  Movies don’t count for date nights because you can’t talk.  
5.  Find out each other’s love language and practice speaking it.   You may do all kinds of things for your spouse and they never feel loved.  That’s because you’re not speaking their language.  This is crucial!  
6.  Conflict is not bad if you deal with it.  When you deal with the conflict you build your relationship.  If you don’t deal with it, conflict kills relationships.
7.  Fight Quickly, don’t let conflict last for long periods of time.  Ephesians 4:26
8.   Keep your spouse on your toes! Throw little things in your relationship they will least expect.
9.  Enjoy each other!  Let the work go sometimes and just have fun with each other.
10.  Be Yourself! If you change to please them, you won’t be authentic nor will your marriage be.
11.  Sometimes you will have to sacrifice your wants for the good of the marriage
12. Make a decision to stay married. Take the D word out of your vocabulary.  If you never say it, you’ll rarely think it.
13.  Love is an ACTION, not a feeling. There are going to be times you aren’t going to {feel} like loving. ACT!!  The feelings will follow. 
14.  God cares more about making me holy than he does my happiness in marriage.
15.  Invest in ways to grow your relationship.  Marriage retreats, Marriage Sunday school classes, books on marriage, video series on marriage. Listen to podcasts that focus on marriage. At the end of the post I’ll have a resource list.
16. Choose what you focus on in your spouse. If you only focus on the negative I guarantee that is what you’ll see.  It’s so easy to slip into seeing the bad so catch yourself when you’re headed in that direction.
17.  Honor each other.  It’s so easy to get snippy and short with each other. Treat each other as your would treat a guest. I know this can be a hard one!!
18.  Learn to enjoy intimacy!  It’s made for a life time.  Keep the fire burning. I’ll keep this one short to not embarrass my girls! :)
19.  Kiss your spouse good night every night!
20.  Allow space for each person to pursue their passions. My husband LOVES to hunt and I have not always been a good hunting wife.  I’m leaning to give him that space.
21.  Find at least one thing you like to do together.  Jim and I’s one thing is gardening. 
22.  In any conflict ask God to show you your part in the conflict and ask Him to show your hubby his part.  I promise He’ll show you your part if you ask and this will keep you from living in pride.
23.  Appreciate your differences don’t fight them.  If you’re both the same, one isn’t needed.
24.  Recognize the differences between males and females and how they think.  Our first 10 years I didn’t understand this principle and it caused a lot of conflict.  Gary Smalley has some great teachings on this.
25.  Take a trip together once a year, just the two of you. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Hawaii.  We’ve gone to big places, but we’ve also gone camping which was just as meaningful as the big trips. The goal is extended time alone together, just you two.

26.  Make God the center of your relationship. This happens when we allow God to mold our hearts. We HAVE to have his help to make this work.
27.  Look at the big picture!  The problems you face today won’t necessarily be permanent.  Don’t let your problems cloud your view.
28. Learn to choose your battles!  Not everything NEEDS to be fought about.  Fight Quickly, don’t let conflict last for long periods of time.  Ephesians 4:26
29.  Marriage was created to be team work. Use the strengths of each person.
30. Pray, Pray, Pray!  It’s your life line.
31.  Be your spouse’s publicist!  Brag about your spouse whenever you can. Especially when they can hear you. They will secretly eat it up!
32.  Don’t put yourself in places that could get you into trouble.  Like chatting with an ex on Facebook, etc.  satan is a roaring lion ready to destroy your marriage don’t help him out!  
33.  Be careful with who you vent about your spouse to.  You need someone who will be able to forgive his flaws and not remind you of them ever time you talk.  
34.  Don’t let yourself go!  I know it’s necessary to have dress down days and hang out in sweats all day long.  BUT don’t let that be the norm, unless that’s how you’ve always been.  You don’t want to give your spouse the left overs.  Give them the best!! You will feel better about yourself as well.
35.  Keep yourself free from bitterness! Don’t let conflicts build up.  It will hold you captive to sin.  Acts 8:32
There you have it  the 35 lessons I’ve learned in no particular order. 
If God can do it in my marriage He can do it in yours.
  
Jim and I 4/12 flying to Mexico for 5 days away by our self.

Recommended Resources:
Hidden Keys of a Loving, Lasting Marriage by Gary Smalley

Experiencing Christ Together: Finding Freedom and Fullfillment in Marriage by Neil Anderson

Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy by Gary Thomas

Intimate Issues: Twenty-One Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex by Linda Dillow
Celebration in the Bedroom by Charlie and Martha Shedd

The Power of a Praying® Wife by Stormie Omartian

Focus on the Family- Great articles and podcasts on marriage.

Family Life- Great articles and podcasts on marriage.

If you want more ideas on  how to add spark to your relationship please check out these post:

Do you have any lessons you’ve learned in your marriage? Any comments, questions?

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Comments

  1. Krafty Kat says

    Loved this post! So much useful information and it looks like you two have made it work and are really happy after 35 years. Happy Anniversary and enjoy your getaway!

  2. says

    Barb,Happy Anniversary and Congradulations. I love the list that you made. Thanks so much for sharing at Wednesday's Adorned From Above Blog Hop. This weeks party starts at 12:01AM on Wednesday and runs through Sunday night. Have a great week.Debi, Joye and Myrna (The Busy Bee's), Linda (Two Succulent Sisters)

  3. Stacey says

    Congratulations on your 35 years! That is such an accomplishment these days, it is something to be really proud of. We will celebrate our 25th anniversary in February. Not sure that I can add anything to your list but I agree with all of it. The other day my husband absolutely made me float on clouds by sending me the sweetest little text message. It was probably only 7 or 8 words but I won't forget it. :)

  4. Stephanie F says

    Happy Anniversary!! Wow 35 years that's fabulous. You guys look great, and so happy :)As a newlywed, I truly appreciate the wisdom you shared. Thank you!!Stephaniehttp://sharelovealways.blogspot.ca/

  5. Kim @ Too Much Time says

    This si so wonderful and it made me smile and reminds me to always be trying to be the best wife I can be. Thanks for sharing and I am featuring you today:)Kim

  6. Marla and Steve says

    This is a wonderful post and you hit the target with each number. Thanks for sharing. Every newlywed should have a copy of this.

  7. Alison Wood says

    What a great post! Marriage is so important, yet not honoured by the society as a whole. THank the Lord for people who still strive to honor the Lord AND their wedding vows!Visiting frompint-sizedtreasures.comAlison

  8. Lhen Gutierrez says

    I wish you more and more years of love and happiness to come! This is so inspiring specially like me as a new couple. God bless your family.

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