On this day 27 years ago, a blizzard turned our spring wedding into a winter wonderland. We braved icy roads to church so we could walk the aisle, exchange vows and rings, and begin our life together as Mr. and Mrs. We’re thrilled to celebrate one more happy anniversary today—we still say, “I do.”
Looking back, our odds of a happy, lasting marriage were shaky. Only about 50% of couples who married that year would keep their vows and stay together. To make it worse, our young ages doubled our chance of divorce. Throw in the stress of a tight budget, crazy college schedules, and our dreamy-but-clueless immaturity, and we didn’t have a lot going for us!
Yet here we are today, celebrating 27 years of life and love together. How did we make it this far without giving up or growing apart?
God is good.
He built bridges between us when we were divided.
He humbled our hearts so we could admit our mistakes and try again.
His wisdom broke through our confusion time after time.
He answered prayers for help, for endurance, and for deeper love than we could find on our own.
We had to learn plenty of lessons the hard way, but God has never stopped moving us closer to him and each other. He’s been faithful to give all we needed to still say “I do,” year after year.
As God has led us along the way, here are 15 lessons and choices that have made the difference in our marriage:
1. Put in the time.
Whether it’s a quick run for coffee or a romantic overnight at a B and B, we make time for each other. It creates margin to reconnect and remember why we fell in love in the first place.
2. Forgive and forget.
We’ve said the worst things at the worst moments. We’ve taken each other for granted. Our pride and selfishness have put “me” over “us.” We’ve had to take God’s Word to heart: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32) Keeping our marriage free from bitterness and “I told you so’s” allows us to keep moving forward.
3. Put away the broom.
It’s easier to sweep little tensions and conflicts under the rug. But over time they pile up and create a big, ugly mess in our relationship. We do all we can to deal with the little things before they turn into major issues between us.
4. You be you.
We’re one couple, but we bring separate gifts, personalities, and interests to the marriage. Cheerleading each other’s dreams creates space to grow as individuals. Our personal fulfillment spills over to our relationship.
5. Go to school.
When we joined lives we became students of each other. We notice little preferences, stress triggers, pet peeves, and favorite things so we can work for each other’s happiness.
6. On the job training.
Marriage isn’t a skill we’re born with. Reading wise words from experts over the years has corrected our course or given insight we’d never find on our own. Some of our favorite titles are Love & Respect, The 5 Love Languages, How We Love, Preventing Divorce, and Sacred Marriage.
7. Find your tribe.
Building a strong family doesn’t happen in isolation. A healthy church, close community groups, and honest and open friends have spoken into our relationship in powerful ways. We need encouragement and prayer from others who are committed to us, too.
8. Fan the flame.
Sexual intimacy isn’t just an optional perk of marriage—it’s the way we’re made “one.” Romance has tough competition with busy schedules, fatigue, and needy kids. But saving time and energy to draw close keeps love alive.
9. Say it out loud.
We might think our spouse is attractive. Smart. Talented. Our favorite human on the planet. But our thoughts can’t do any good until they’re spoken. Affirmation builds each other up and keeps our vow “to love and to cherish” always.
10. What’s mine is yours.
Joint bank accounts. Shared passwords. Plans and possessions. The last pint of ice cream. We move from “mine” to “ours” on all fronts.
11. Leave and cleave.
We had to close the door of the past behind us. We created our own traditions and habits as a couple. Our loyalties lie with each other as we pursue what’s good for our household.
12. Build fences.
Boundaries keep trouble out and security in. Nobody needs the details of our love life or the play-by-play of all our decisions. Common sense avoids travel and solo lunches with the opposite sex. We put healthy limits on our online activities. Smart boundaries build trust and protect the integrity of our home.
13. Shoot straight.
We cancel the silent treatment keeping our partner walking on eggshells. Naming our wants and needs keeps us from manipulating to get our way. Expressing feelings with words is more effective than eye-rolls and slamming doors. If we say what we mean and mean what we say, it keeps communication open between us.
14. No plan B.
When we said, “I do,” there was no exit plan. With divorce off the table we’ve had no choice but to keep fighting for our marriage. We can feel secure because neither of us is going anywhere.
The longer we’re together, the more we pray. In prayer we put God in his place as the head of our home. We lay down our fears and take hold of his will for our lives. Prayer moves us from “Lord, change my spouse,” to “Lord, change me.” We confess our sins against each other so we can make a fresh start. God invites us to bring our fights, our problems, and our broken places to him. He gives us all we need to keep loving each other, year after year.
We still have plenty of learning and growing to do if God blesses us with another 27 years together. But the future looks bright since he’s been faithful every step of the way.
Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things,
things planned long ago.
You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.
In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
To celebrate our anniversary, we’re excited to share a new couples devotional with you!
Closer – A 31-day Couple’s Devotional today.