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Overview: The longer we’re married the more I learn. Marriage can be a huge blessing! Here are 21 things I’ve learned from 21 years of marriage. 

My husband and I are celebrating our 21st Wedding Anniversary on October 17th. I was blessed with amazing in-laws who gladly took our boys for us when they were younger on our anniversary weekend. And now my sons are old enough to stay home alone, which is a pretty amazing phase of life, let me tell you. Getting away on our anniversary every year has given us a chance to reconnect each year which is fantastic. In the busy seasons of life, it’s important to have this time to get back on the same page as a married couple.

Twenty-one years… where has the time gone? We’ve experienced a miscarriage,  job loss, health scares, financial difficulties, and more. We’ve shared the joy of raising our two sons, family vacations, reaching shared goals, and lots of laughter. It’s hard to believe we’ve been together so long but at the same time, it’s also hard to remember a time that we weren’t man and wife.

Here are 21 Things I’ve Learned in 21 Years of Marriage:

1 – Important to Have Alone Time with Spouse

This can be hard to do but it’s essential. Do date nights whenever possible. Put the kids to bed early and spend time alone in the evenings. Take drives in the car and talk once the kids fall asleep.

2 – Love is a Choice – Not a Feeling

There will be times when you don’t FEEL very loving toward your spouse.  Act loving and the feeling will return in time.

3 – Assume the Best

Assume that your husband has good intentions. Rather than getting angry with him when he does something you don’t like, try to see things from his point of view. It’s much better to err on the side of thinking well of your husband than the alternative.

4 – What are you Thinking?

Check your thoughts. Do you think positive things about your husband? Do you dwell on the negative? Are you nice on the outside but thinking angry thoughts on the inside? This will steal the joy from your marriage and your spouse won’t even understand what’s wrong.

5 – A Sense of Humor is Essential

Life certainly has its difficult moments. Try choosing laughter instead of tears. Make jokes and laugh at the ones he tells. Stop taking yourself so seriously. If you want to have a fun marriage then MAKE it that way!

6 – Never Say the “D” Word

Marriage is a commitment. You and your spouse need to promise never to threaten each other with a divorce. Don’t even joke about leaving. It can’t be an option. When you’re going through a rough time, it’s essential that you both know that you’re in it together and that you can count on each other.

7 – Give Each Other Some Cooling Off Time

Let’s face it – we all get angry and frustrated sometimes. When your spouse is upset, leave him alone. Let him cool off before you start peppering him with questions. When he’s ready to talk about it, he will. Don’t press him.

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8 – Speak Well of Your Spouse to Others

When you’re talking about your spouse to other people, be sure to keep your speech complimentary. Don’t get into the habit of complaining about your partner.

9 – Show Appreciation

We all want to know that someone appreciates our efforts. If you want your husband to do even more for you, appreciate what he’s already doing.

10 – Don’t Keep Score of Who is Doing More

Be willing to go the extra mile. The best marriages are ones where each spouse is putting 100% of their effort into it.

11 – Let Go of the Past

We all make mistakes. None of us wants to be clobbered over the head about things we’ve done in the past. Once someone has asked forgiveness for something you need to be willing to let it go.

12 – Pray Together

The couple that prays together stays together.

13 – Allow Your Husband to Lead

God has made our husbands to be the leaders of our households. We need to allow them to lead. Stop trying to be in control of every situation. When wives are willing to submit to their husbands, it’s amazing what this will do for our marriages.

20 Things I've Learned from 20 Years of Marriage

14 – Husbands Crave Respect

Women crave love. Men crave respect. If you want your husband to show you love you first need to show him respect. Respect his opinions. Respect his efforts.

15 – Bite Your Tongue

Just because a thought crosses your mind doesn’t mean you need to express that thought to your spouse. Think before you speak. Words matter!

16 – Give up Your Desire to be Right

Would you rather have a husband or would you rather be right? None of us is right all of the time no matter how much we might think we are. If you are willing to give up this right, you’ll be amazed at how often your husband will apologize after he’s had some time to think about it.

17 – Tell Him What You Want

Women quite often have the ability to sense the needs of others and to fulfill those needs without them having to be spoken. Men don’t usually have this ability. Don’t try to make your husband try to read your mind. You’ll save both of you a lot of grief if you just tell him what you want.

18 – Choose Your Timing Wisely

It isn’t wise to confront our husbands the second they return home from work or right before bed. If you want to bring something up with your husband, make sure he’s in the right frame of mind to receive it properly.

19 – Listen to Him

It’s easy for women to talk to their husbands but sometimes it is a little bit harder for us to listen. To hear what they are actually trying to say. Ask your husband questions. Draw him out. And give him the opportunity to be heard as well.

20 – What’s His Love Language?

There are five main ways that we can show love to others These love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Find out the love language that means the most to your husband and then be intentional about showing him love in this way.

21 – Have Realistic Expectations

It’s important to remember that our husbands are human and they are going to make mistakes. They are also going to do things that are hurtful or that let us down. If we’re expecting marriage to be a fairy tale, we will be disappointed. If we’re expecting our husbands to fulfill all of our needs, we will never be happy. Romance novels and Hollywood have given many of us unrealistic expectations of what our relationships with our husbands should look like. We will have a much healthier relationship if we don’t expect perfection from our spouses or that every day will be filled with wedded bliss.

Please note that although I am aware that these issues are important, I’m still working on fully applying them in my marriage.  🙂

I hope these lessons that I’ve learned will help to strengthen your marriage. In fact, if you apply most of these tips to your relationships with anyone you will find that it will draw you closer together and will help you to forge bonds that will stand the test of time.

Question:  Which of these tips have helped you the most in your marriage? Are there any others you’d like to add to the list? Please leave a comment below.