21 Things I’ve Learned from 21 Years of Marriage

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!

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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.

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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.  ðŸ™‚

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.

20 thoughts on “21 Things I’ve Learned from 21 Years of Marriage”

  1. Hi Michelle,
    Everything in your post made sense to me. My husband & I have been married for 22 years & have six kids. One of the things we realized after 20 years was how important it is to go on weekly dates, even if it’s just a “bedroom date” where we read a book together & spend quality time alone. Another thing we began doing after 20 yrs. was reading the Bible & praying together 2-3 times per week. It was something I wanted for years, but it took my husband leading in this area that made it happen. These two things alone have made a huge difference in our marriage.

    1. Michelle Caskey

      Yes, reading the Bible together and praying together would make a huge difference. Thanks for sharing, Sonya!

  2. God bless you and yours! I appreciated your list and have learned, after 11 years, some of the things you have posted. More to learn, I believe! lol It never ends but am so grateful for where my husband and I are at compared to where we used to be! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Michelle Caskey

      Oh yeah, Elizabeth, me too. There always seems to be more to learn! And even once we know something, it isn’t always easy to apply… So grateful for my husband and our relationship, too. Such a huge blessing from God! Congrats on your 11 years and I pray that God will bless you with many, many more!

  3. Great tips for 17 years. I will be celebrating 17 years next week. Gotta think of the things we’ve went through and been victorious in to share..Thanks for sharing your post on Good Tips Tuesday. Your post is being featured this week!

  4. I read this at just the right time. Our 17th wedding anniversary is tomorrow. These tips really help. I want to print them off and keep them handy. Thank you!!

  5. Hi Michelle
    Congratulations on 20 wonderful years of marriage. Thank you for these tips, such an important reminder to us all. My husband and I will be 17 years early next year. It is so important to invest in our marriages and put one another first. A firm foundation built on God’s word will having a lasting impact on the next generation of our families.
    One thing I have learnt and still need to practice is not arguing in front of your children. So important but not always easy.
    Thank you again, I feel this has been a fresh reminder to nurture my marriage more as I have been going through a very busy and tired season and I know I am sometimes putting my own needs first which is necessary but finding the balance is important.
    And what I mean by this is that far too often inthe evenings I just want to read and go to bed early but I know that some evenings it would be important to spend quality time together. We used to have a weekly datenight for ages but as our children have gotten older and stay up later it is harder to do. Any ideas on how to have home datenights with 11-14 year olds in the home? Thanks

    1. Thanks so much, Fiona! And congratulations early to you as well. 🙂

      Are your kids capable of staying home alone? If so, I would recommend you take advantage of that and slip away even once a month to be able to spend some time together, even if it’s just driving around and talking or going for a walk together. Or if you can’t leave them, then have them do something quietly in their room or go outside while you get to spend some time with your husband. That isn’t quite the same because you aren’t completely alone and your guard will still be up as you listen for hollering, but it’s better than nothing.

      It’s important to be intentional, though, because it’s all too easy to just crash at night rather than connecting with our spouses. Even though my sons are 16 and almost 18 and they’re fully capable of being alone without us, it takes effort on our part to actually go out and do something together.

  6. Thanks Michelle. Our boys are still too young to be left home alone but your suggestions are good. It doesn’t hurt children to go to their bedrooms early so we can have some time together. Our boys are complete night owls so they might need a bribe to stay in their rooms!!
    I read your post on date nights and found it to be really helpful too, thank you.
    On a Friday night when our boys all go to youth group at church we sometimes stay around the area and go out for dinner instead of driving all the way home to the suburb where we live so that is always something to look forward to as well.
    I can’t believe your eldest son is 18 now! I have been following your blog for a few years now, how the time goes by.
    Many blessings to you.

    1. I always love hearing from you, Fiona! Actually, Ben won’t be 18 until this coming Wednesday so I’m hanging onto these last few days of him being 17. 🙂

      Great idea to take advantage of that time when you might otherwise be driving. Those creative ideas make such a difference! I hope you have a wonderful week.

      1. I know what you mean, my baby is 11 in November but I’m hanging on to 10!!
        Happy Birthday to Ben from New Zealand!
        If we ever come to the States one day I would love to meet you.
        You have a great week too and enjoy the birthday celebrations.

  7. #2 – Love is a choice, not a feeling. Yes, yes, YES!!!! When my husband and I were going through our pre-marriage counseling the pastor said, “You’ll always love each other. You may not always LIKE each other, but you’ll always choose to love each other”. So sometimes when we have a little spat we’ll be sure to say “I love you. I just don’t like you very much right now.” And that usually gets a chuckle out of us both, reminds us to give each other some space for a while, and things will get resolved because we choose to love each other through everything.

    1. Yes! This one is huge!!! Good point, April. 🙂 Whether you’re going through a little spat or a rough season, it’s important to continue to choose love rather than thinking it’s over because you aren’t feeling very loving at the time. It’s normal for that to happen! But if you persevere, it will pass and things will get even better than they were before. <3

      Also, having a sense of humor really diffuses some of those tough conversations. 🙂

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