Today we celebrate 17 years of marriage. Seventeen. It’s amazing how it seems like only yesterday we were two college students who fell in love with Jesus and one another. And today we stand before you with 17 years of marriage, three beautiful children, and a deeper love for God and one another.
And it’s a beautiful thing.
Marriage is a beautiful thing. We knew that well before we married one another and still hold that same assertion today, only much stronger. While our marriage is far from perfect, we have learned so many things these past 17 years that we are vital to a successful marriage. Here are 17 things we’ve learned in 17 years of marriage.
17 Things We’ve Learned in 17 Years of Marriage
1. We Need Jesus
Although we met at a campus Bible study in the late 1990’s (both totally on fire for Jesus), marriage has shown us an even deeper need for Jesus. We need Jesus in order to love one another, we need Him to forgive, we need His wisdom and grace to grow a healthy relationship.
2. Patience is a Virtue
Patience is not something that comes natural to most human beings. God has truly given us the grace to show patience to ourselves, one another, and all those we meet. We have also learned to pursue patience daily in our marriage, relationships with our children, and life in general.
3. True Intimacy
When you are young, your perception of intimacy is likely tied closely to just sex. But as you grow older, particularly with your spouse, you find intimacy to be a plethora of things enjoyed in so many different ways. True intimacy starts with cultivating our relationships with Christ and trickles down into every area of life shared together. We are grateful for the gift to pursue true intimacy with Christ and one another.
Ever heard the saying: Teamwork makes the dream work? Well it’s true. When we were newly engaged we had big dreams of living for Jesus, having a family, and serving others. And the truth is, we have been able to realize every one of those dreams in a larger magnitude than we thought possible. A large part of this has come through working together as a team and allowing Christ to unite us as one flesh.
Like with any relationship, forgiving one another when we become offended is a must. We learned very quickly that holding grudges only hurts our marriage; and we are committed to make it work. As we’ve allowed God to continue to infiltrate our hearts, forgiveness is just like second nature. And when two people are committed to loving and serving one another it makes forgiving them much easier.
A major key to making our marriage work has been being transparent (truthful) with one another. We promised one another that we would be transparent no matter what the issue so we could always work through anything that has come our way. And you know what? We’ve been able to do that. While marriage isn’t always a cakewalk, when honesty is at the forefront, you can work through things together.
Being married has really taught us the importance of empathy. The ability to understand and feel what one another is going through is a blessing beyond words. And this lesson translates into every area of our lives (particularly raising children and serving others). Although empathy can be learned in a variety of ways; marriage is the avenue God has used to give us a deep ability to empathize.
One thing marriage has definitely taught us is how to persevere. We’ve learned how to persevere on both a personal level and together as a couple facing and overcoming things together. We are thankful for the challenges that marriage brings because it has allowed us to really see just how strong we really are, together.
Trust is definitely a large part of what we’ve learned together in marriage. We’ve learned to trust solely in Jesus first. This has been a crucial part of our marriage and when we trust and hear from the Lord, it makes trusting our spouse so much easier. God will never lead us astray; so trusting Him is a foundational and vital part of our marriage.
10. True Joy
We are not referring to the temporary joy that circumstances may bring. While the blessing of seeing a loved one be promoted at work or a new house are definitely joyous occasions; true joy is only found at the feet of Jesus. God, through our marriage has shown us just how fulfilling true joy is as we lean into Him for everything. He not only gives us joy for our sorrows, He gives us an unshakable, immovable joy that leads us into eternity.
11. Overcoming Struggle
As any marriage, we have faced our fair share of struggles. From relational struggles (you know, the ‘one flesh’ thing) to financial struggles to health struggles and more: God has taught us how to overcome. This overcoming can only be found through an intimate relationship with Jesus. By seeking God through His Word, applying what we learn, prayer and worship, we have been able to overcome everything that comes our way. Believing what God says about you and your marriage not only builds your faith but allows you to identify the lies of the enemy and walk in freedom.
12. Legacy Building
As a married couple we are called to build a legacy for Christ by the way we live, love, and serve others. And for us, this legacy extends into the lives of our three precious children. We are honored that God has given us the task of building a legacy that He has predestined for us.
Flexibility is something that we have learned through various things. From continuing to learn and serve one another in person or apart (due to separations from 15 years of military life) to dealing with one another’s quirks; flexibility has played a major role in our thriving relationship. We had to quickly realize that life cannot be scripted and being flexible is a key component in navigating lifes changes.
14. Money Management
As you may know, money is something that has destroyed many marriages. In 1 Timothy 6:10, the Bible tells us that the “love of money is the root of all evil”. Clearly we have to be careful when it comes to handling money so that it isn’t an idol in our lives. God has shown us through His Word and through wonderful teachers the best way to manage our money over these past 17 years. This is something that we are grateful for as we didn’t have good examples of this growing up!
15. Better Communication
If you have spent any time on our website, you will quickly realize that communication is something we value and talk about often. Communication is one of the largest keys to any lasting marriage. We find it very important to constantly improve in this area at all times. Even when things are going “good” they can always be going better. Thankfully God teaches us how to be better communicators every day.
16. Goal Setting for Two
This one is HUGE. Carlie, by nature is a big goal setter. But naturally moving goal setting for one into goal setting for two isn’t as simple as it sounds. With God’s help, we’ve managed to create some amazing strategies for setting and achieving goals for our marriage. We continuously reevaluate our marriage planning and goal setting systems as each season of life brings about a new way of doing things. We love this and find it fun, too!
17. Better Time Management
Because marriage makes a couple one flesh, it also teaches you to manage your time together. Through Christ, we have learned to manage our time better as individuals, a married couple, as a family, and as business owners. It is through better time management that we’ve learned to live a low-stress life and gives us the ability to walk out the path that God has carved just for us.
While we still have a lot to learn, these last 17 years of marriage have given us some great life lessons. We are so thankful that God loves us the way He does and gives us the wisdom we need to be successful in all He has called us to. Even though life throws many curveballs along the way, if you lean in close to the Lord, He will teach you what you need to know to build a lasting and fulfilling marriage. And for this, we are grateful.