Today is my 20th wedding anniversary. In every relationship that lasts, there will be ups and downs. It’s the nature of life, and our marriage is no exception. By no means has it been all sunshine and blue skies. There have been storms, sometimes severe. But there has been great joy, and we’re both glad we teamed up years ago. The most important lesson I’ve learned through it all is that my wife is the greatest woman I know. While that doesn’t help you much, here are 20 other nuggets that I’ve gleaned in the 20 years since we said “I do”:
- There are stages to life. Find a woman who will make each stage the best possible.
- You will change throughout your marriage. So will your wife. Give her room to change, grow, and evolve as a person.
- Your relationship with your wife will either be a support and asset for your kids or it will be an obstacle for them to overcome. Give them the gift of a committed marriage.
- Your kids want you to entertain them, so they will try to co-opt your time with your wife. Don’t let them. Set boundaries. Protect your relationship with your wife.
- Your wife needs friends. You cannot give her the conversation and friendship that she needs without compromising your other duties as a man. And likely, without losing your mind.
- Learn your wife’s love language. Find out the types of things that make her feel loved and special, and make those things happen.
- Have goals and a purpose. A woman will follow a man a long way if she’s confident he’s going somewhere worth going.
- Tell her what you’re thinking. Let her know what’s in your heart to do.
- Don’t always tell her everything. Some things she just doesn’t need to know at the moment, and some things she might never need to know. This doesn’t mean to be deceitful or mislead, it means to have a filter in what you share.
- Doing fun things together is really important.
- Understand that a lack of money amplifies problems. You don’t need to be rich, but having a comfortable amount of money keeps minor problems from becoming major.
- Your kids need to see you argue and work through disagreements. Again, have a filter. They don’t need to see you fighting and throwing things. They need to see real people who have a real disagreement work through the disagreement because they’re committed to each other.
- Your wife doesn’t need you to look like a bodybuilder, but she will like it if you take care of your appearance.
- Your wife will rest easier if she believes you’re committed to protecting her.
- It’s important for both of you to have nights/trips with your friends. Make it happen.
- Being intentional about romance shows your love. Spontaneity is great, but unreliable and unpredictable by its very nature. Don’t leave your relationship to its whims.
- Be spontaneous. Look for ways to do the wild, fun shit that only kids do. If this is your life, you’re probably immature. If this never happens, you’re definitely missing out.
- Create traditions. Having things that you always do ties you together. Don’t let them overrun your life, but have a few of them in place.
- Remember that if it ain’t working for both of you, it ain’t working.
- Remember that you’re on the same team. Teammates fight over direction. Enemies fight to conquer. Fight, but only as teammates.
I’m fully cognizant that age is relative and that our understanding of what’s true evolves as we grow older. Those who have been married for 40 years will look at this list and say, son, you don’t even know what you don’t know. I get that. But for all I have left to learn, I’ve seen these things to be true. For the sake of our country and our children, may our marriages be full of life, joy, peace, laughter, and contentment.
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