My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary yesterday. In some ways, it seems like we just got married not that long ago, but in other ways, it feels like it’s always been this way. We always celebrate with a big cookout, but this year, we decided to renew our vows and have the party at the parish, allowing others to help us with cooking and serving the food. It was a great party, and a good time was had by all.
In honor of our 25 years together, I created this list of 25 tips for a long-lasting marriage.
- Be friends first. Each of you should be able to go to the other for help and support, and that should be your first line of defense, as well. If I have a problem, I go to my husband with it before anyone else because he’s my first and best friend.
- Be each other’s best ally. I’ve written about this before, but when you’re talking about your spouse to someone else, it should be positive. Unless someone knows us really, really well (as in they are family or about as close to family as you can get), I don’t complain about my husband to other people. Nathan does me the same courtesy. I never have to wonder what someone thinks of me when I meet them for the first time because I know Nathan isn’t busy complaining about my faults to everyone.
- Do things together. At least, most things. Share activities. Tag along. Watch sports together. Learn about art, cooking … something. Too few shared activities just means too many opportunities to grow apart.
- Work on some home projects together. Problem-solving on small things gives you practice for when you have to problem-solve on big things.
- Take a finance class together. Do it ASAP! Don’t wait until you’re in financial trouble to figure out how to do a family budget.
- Get a new hobby together. Start running, go hiking, become beer snobs and learn to brew beer. Just do something together, and learn it together.
- Pray for each other.
- Pray with each other.
- Go to church together.
- Encourage each other … Be each other’s biggest cheerleader!
- … but be honest, too. Everyone has weaknesses, and we should be able to help each other grow and become better people. Be ready to accept that kind of constructive criticism when it’s necessary.
- Have date nights. On some kind of regular basis, hire a sitter (or trade sitting nights with friends) and be alone together, even if it’s going for a walk or grocery shopping together.
- Reminisce together. Take out your old pictures, look through your wedding album. Share it all with your kids. (“Oh my goodness, were we ever really that young?”)
- Have kids, even if things aren’t “perfect” for it. It’ll never be the exact “right time” to have children, but when you look back, it will have been the perfect time. Children don’t divide your love up, they multiply it. I’ve often marveled that our life as a married couple didn’t really seem to start until we had children, and then life was so much more full than without.
- Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. More stuff ≠ happiness.
- Live within your means. Remember that finance class? Everyone has problems that occasionally require a loan, but living within your means requires us to sacrifice some fun goodies that everyone seems to have (or trips everyone seems to be taking) when we can’t really afford it. Trust me, charging it all and thinking about paying for it later is not the road you want to travel constantly.
- Keep an emergency fund. Replenish when needed. Not everyone can keep 3-6 months of expenses put away, or even $1000, but it’s good to try to keep something aside in case of emergency.
- Savor the now. Don’t be so worried about tomorrow that you forget to appreciate today. Little kids get big pretty fast, and time only seems to move faster the older you get.
- Have the argument instead of burying it … Your spouse cannot read your mind. Say what you mean and, if there’s a problem, don’t let it fester. Sometimes you have to get through a disagreement.
- … but let the past stay in the past. When you do argue, don’t stray into the past and dig up old dirt. Stick to the problem at hand, and when you’re done solving it, let it stay in the past, too. Bringing up old grievances is a bad habit that no one should get into.
- The stupidest line ever written in a movie is “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” I can’t say this strongly enough: THAT IS TOTAL BALONEY. Love means you say it all. the. time. It means you die to yourself and give up your pride and say you’re sorry when you have to. (Don’t get love advice from Hollywood.)
- Be ready and willing to sacrifice. Adulthood and marriage means sacrifice for your spouse and your family:
- with babies and loss of sleep
- with small kids and patience
- with teens and a sense of being needed
- with time and second jobs
- with freedom to do what you want as you sit in the car at the soccer field
- … the list goes on!
- Don’t look back. Reconnecting with old flames can only lead to trouble. Just. don’t. Nostalgia can kill marriages.
- Remember why you fell in love. Tell your love story to people. Your kids will love it! Our kids have heard our How We Met and Fell in Love story so many times, they could probably tell it, but they love to hear us tell people to this day.
- For better or for worse is real. And when you get to the “worse” part, be ready to turn to each other for support. Stick together as a team and work things out. Couples who go through struggles and work through them together come out much stronger on the other side. There will be a “for worse” part. There will be “in sickness.” Know that, and be ready to be the one to support your spouse.
All text and photos ©2018 Christine Johnson
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