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11 Things I’ve Learned from Being Married 11 Years

by Paul Watson on August 14, 2009

Tomorrow, the 15th, Christi and I will celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary.  She is my best friend and I love her lots.

We’ll be celebrating this anniversary with our kids.  This anniversary is going to be a celebration of our family.  We’ll probably pull out the wedding albums and tell our kids how we met.  Then we’ll probably pull out the baby albums and celebrate what they each mean to us.

Along the way we’ve learned lots.  To be cute, I thought I’d write eleven things we’ve learned along the way.  (I’d love to hear what you’ve learned in your marriage as well. Feel free to comment.)

It is ok to ask God to help you love her more.

I ask God all the time to help me love my wife more.  I ask Him to call my attention to things I haven’t noticed about her.  I think God loves to answer prayers like that.  I know He answered mine.

It is ok to get counseling.

Christi and I went through some really rough times a few years ago.  We had so much stuff bottled up that we didn’t even know where to begin the conversation.  We went to a counselor to help us get the conversation started and deal with our baggage.  It was one of the best things we ever did.

I know that seeing a counselor is generally not something you talk about.  I think that is stupid.  If you are truly committed to staying together, you get the help you need to make it work.  Seeing a counselor is a demonstration of commitment, not a sign of weakness.  If you need help, get it.  You are both worth it.

Get Out Of Debt

When we first got married, I was bad with money.  I was so optimistic about life that I thought we’d “always make it somehow.”  That was stupid.  I put a lot of needless stress on me and my family.

And trust me, no steak is good enough to still be paying for it seven years later!

Three years ago, Christi and I went on the Dave Ramsey cash-only system.  We haven’t put a penny on credit cards since then.  Yes, there have been some really tight months, but we’re making it.

If you’re in debt, get out as fast as you can.  If you aren’t in debt, cut up the cards right now.

Never Stop Buying Each Other Gifts

Many married couples stop buying each other gifts.  They’ll buy a new TV and call in the ‘Anniversary Present’ or a new washer and dryer for Christmas.

We decided not to do that.  No matter how small, we still buy gifts for each other.  Sometimes, if we have the money, they can be big.  If we don’t, the gifts will be small.

One time I paid cash for a diamond necklace on Valentine’s Day.  I saved up to do it.  Another time I bought her an Archie comic book.  It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be a gift.

Somehow giving gifts to each other keeps things fresh.

Tell Your Love Stories Often

The story of how you met and married is a love story.  You should tell it to people often.  As the years pass, you develop many more love stories.  You need to tell them to each other, family, and friends as often as you can.  Telling the stories keeps the love alive.

When you have kids, these stories teach them how to love their future spouses.

Have Fun

Play games.  Go for walks.  Squirt each other with water guns.  Write silly songs and sing them to each other.

I know life can be so serious.  Just don’t let life rob you of the joy of being married.

Don’t Do Everything Together

If you do all the same things, if you read all the same books, if you watch all the same movies, you won’t have much to talk about.  Christi and I are very different.  Our differences have helped our marriage.  We have interesting conversations because we experience different things and have different perspectives.

Our differences give us something to talk about.  We learn more about each other though our differences.

Go On Micro-dates

We don’t have enough money to go out on big fancy dates.  Rather than not dating at all, we’ll go on micro-dates. We’ll try to get off work a little early and meet to share a soda at our local Sonic.  We will play Phase 10 after the kids go to bed.  Sometimes we will just walk around the mall.

The important thing is that we create pockets of inexpensive time just to be together.

Encourage Each Other

My job as a husband is to help my wife succeed.  Her job as my wife is to help me succeed.  I am her biggest cheerleader and she is mine.  I don’t ever want Christi to have to find encouragement from anyone other than me.  That means that supporting her is one of the biggest responsibilities I have as a husband.  She feels the same.

Don’t Sulk

Take time to cool off when tempers flare. Express your frustration, disappointment, and hurt.  Whatever you do, don’t sulk.  Don’t give the other person the silent treatment.  Don’t punish them.  Trust me, it doesn’t help.  It makes things worse.  Give each other space, but come together quickly to resolve your differences and move on.

You Can Never Tell Someone You Love Them Too Many Times

Even when I’m out of town, I make a point to tell my wife that I love her.  Life is uncertain.  I want Christi to know that my love is one thing she can always count on.  No matter what.

Christi, I am a better person because of you.  I love you deeply.  Thank you for saying, “I do” eleven years ago.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Patrick J Robertson August 14, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Paul a great Blog and I give a hearty "that;'s right" to each of your eleven points. I hope many read it and benifit by doing those little things in their marriage's. One of the lessons I learned is that the best thing I could do for my kids is to love their mother. It's easy to let the kids come between the parents and let that become a friction point. Believe me kids come hard-wired with a program to play parents against each other… "But Mommy said I could…". Don't fall into that trap! Love your spouse and you are right never assume that they know it. Say it and say it often "I Love YOU!"

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thinkingfamily August 17, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Thanks, Pat. I agree. I want Christi and my kids to hear "I love you" from me loudly, publically, and often.

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John King August 17, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Paul,

Great post! I appreciate your transparency in talking about getting counseling. I refuse to marry a couple unless they get pre-marital counseling to break down any anti-counseling feelings. I was late for an annual physical once because of a pre-marital session. My doctor was cynical that such sessions were really worthwhile. I asked, "Doc, would you rather a person came to you for regular check-ups before they had a major health crisis, or wait to seek a primary care physician?" He smiled and said, "You've got me!" I added, "I know they are 'in love' and may not remember everything we talk about, but if they can have a good experience in counseling before they marry, they are more likely to seek help when they struggle."

Thanks for encouraging folks to get help.

Reply

thinkingfamily August 17, 2009 at 5:07 pm

That's great, John! Christi and I try to break the stigma of marital counseling by sharing our need for it and our very positive experience. I really hope that this post helps people realize that getting counseling is ok. We're in marriage for the long haul and we're going to use every tool at our disposal to make it work.

Thanks for the encouragement and for stopping by!

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