Over half of all marriages (including Christian marriages) end in divorce. Wow. How do you make it for the long haul? How do you keep joy in your marriage when the years pile on? Is it even possible? How do you keep the passion alive? How do you make it with all of the stress, conflict, family, temptations, baggage and everything that life throws at you?
Today Todd & I celebrate 25 years of marriage. Before marriage I honestly thought if we had conflict that we would settle it by praying together on our knees while holding hands. Laughter. I would describe the 1st part of our marriage as a roller coaster. Today it feels more like the log ride. Remember that ride? A lot of beauty but on occasion a hill and drop with splash. We enjoy life together & encouraging other married folk. Marriage can get better with time if Christ is the center and you don’t quit. A good marriage is a wonderful life and is worth fighting for. This is our message to young adults.
Our marriage is not perfect. We have disagreements. It is work. Sharing this blog does not mean we have it all together. We are still learning but today I want to share what I would tell anyone the top 25 Tips For Making it to 25.
TOP 25 TIPS FOR MAKING IT TO 25
1. Get marital counseling BEFORE marriage. We were fortunate to receive pre-marital counseling from Dr. Norman Wright and Dan Reiland. Both of these men helped prepare us for the reality of marriage after the wedding. Norm and Dan told us that there would be times that we would think about divorce. This information shocked me but it is true.
2. Keep Jesus in the center of your marriage. I don’t mean going to church. I don’t mean being religious. Christ motivates and empowers me to do the other 23 things on this list. When Jesus is the priority you will strive to live His way and that means divorce is not an option. The only biblical grounds for divorce are adultery or abuse.
3. Grace and Forgiveness. There are many things Todd does that get’s on my nerves. And probably twice as many in my life that bothers him. In 25 years we have made mistakes, said things we regret and hurt feelings. Say I’m Sorry and ask forgiveness when you mess up. Giving grace and forgiveness is the best gift you can give anyone. Without it I promise you your marriage will not last a New York minute.
4. Pray together. Prayer develops an intimacy that nothing else will.
5. Spiritual growth. Join a Bible study. I have been in many studies for women and Todd leads a men Bible study.
6. Personal growth. How are you growing as a person? This has always been important to us.
7. Build memories. Traditions are good for families. What are yours?
8. Do fun things together. No need to list mine because fun for us may not be fun to you.
9. Have a united front. Do this with your kids, extended family and friends. Put your spouse first even before your children.
10. Protect your marriage. Todd will not meet with a female alone and I will not meet with a man alone. When he was a pastor he referred women to me for counseling. Refuse to meet alone with co-workers of the opposite sex. I love that Vice President Pence has adopted this value.
11. Show respect. This is a choice.
12. Encourage some independence. Todd has his friends and I have mine. Having mutual friends is icing on the cake. I don’t expect Todd to be my girlfriend.
13. Encourage counseling if one or both of you need it. Because I came from a dysfunctional family I had counseling years before I met Todd. Marriage is better when you are healthy. Unresolved life issues will impact your marriage.
14. Live below your means. This will enable you to avoid financial stress.
15. Avoid debt. We learned this the hard way. Take a Dave Ramsey class called “Financial Peace University.”
16. Don’t go to bed angry. Sometimes this is difficult but it is a choice.
17. Share the workload. Though I never had to put our boys in daycare I have always worked whether ministry, home business or the art gallery we own. We share work at home and if we are busy I hire a housekeeper. I love that the Proverbs 31 woman had servants.
18. Date nights. This is a challenge when kids are young and you are broke. But it is important. You can do kind things for one another even if you don’t go out. I am not a huge lasagna fan but I make homemade lasagna for him often because he loves it.
19. Honesty at all costs. This is so important. It can save huge conflict if you deal with it on the front in.
20. Don’t keep secrets. From day one we have shared everything with one another. Event he difficult stuff. Todd has shared with me when women have flirted with him and I have shared when men have flirted with me. If you want to destroy your marriage keep secrets. I know a wife who kept financial secrets from her husband. She had a spending problem and kept it hidden from him for many years before it hit the fan. They are now divorced.
21. Keep family a priority.
22. Talk. Ask good questions. Go deep. Get a book of questions if you need to. One of my absolute favorite things in the past 25 years is having coffee together in the morning. Sometimes this means I get up earlier than I prefer.
23. Do new things together. This is important. It keeps a relationship alive and fresh. Sunday Todd and I are going kayaking together for the first time.
24. Imagine what your life would be like without them.
25. Set goals together. We have set goals in many areas such as personal, spiritual, work, physical, financial, social and family.
These are the 25 things that came to my mind. What would you add to this list?