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What We’ve Learned in 40 Years of Marriage

Brad & Heidi in South America celebrating 40 years of marriage!

This summer we celebrated 40 years of marriage, a huge milestone. For us, it’s an epic accomplishment especially when we think of the struggles we had earlier in our marriage.  There was a season where we didn’t know if our marriage would survive or not. Thanks to the Lord, a lot of hard work, and a great counselor our marriage survived and today is stronger than ever. 

Your marriage may be healthy and strong, or perhaps you’re in a challenging season, or maybe you’re ready to give up.  Whatever season you’re experiencing here are 40 things we learned in 40 years of marriage that will make your marriage stronger:

  1. Spiritual warfare is real.  Satan wants to ruin your marriage.  He’s the enemy, not your spouse.
  2. You reap what you sow.  If you want an exceptional marriage, be intentional and work hard.
  3. Marriage is work.  
  4. Love is NOT a feeling.  Love is a commitment.
  5. Your marriage will not survive without forgiveness.
  6. You can love your spouse more 40 years later than on your wedding day.
  7. Christian counseling can grow and protect your marriage.
  8. Smile at each other.
  9. Tithe early in your marriage and don’t stop.
  10. Find a hobby together and pursue it.
  11. Talk about finances and create a budget you both agree to.
  12. Go to the same church together.
  13. Affirm your spouse’s body.  Tell your spouse how much you like it.
  14. Practice empathy.
  15. Travel bonds you.
  16. Sometimes you have to schedule time for physical intimacy.
  17. Laugh a lot 
  18. The best marriages have conflict.  The spouses have just learned to deal with that conflict in a healthy way.
  19. Pray together daily.  This is non-negotiable.
  20. Assume the best about your spouse until you know otherwise.
  21. Have a date night at least once a month.
  22. Don’t criticize or complain about your spouse in public.
  23. Honor your parents and your in-laws.
  24. Kiss and touch each other every day.
  25. Have mutual friends who are FOR your marriage. Learn from them.
  26. If possible, go to bed at the same time and sleep together.
  27. Give each other space to pursue individual interests.
  28. Be polite to each other.  Say “please” and “thank you.”
  29. Don’t have secrets from each other except around gift-giving.
  30. Practice contentment. Thank God for his provision and blessings.
  31. Reminisce together and have shared dreams for the future.
  32. Present a unified front to your children. Don’t let your kids divide you.
  33. Don’t attack your spouse’s character, but you can question their ideas.
  34. Remember you are a team.  Don’t compete against your spouse (except in a game).
  35. Fast and pray for your marriage.  Surround yourself with friends who will do this for you too.
  36. Control your thoughts and what you allow to enter your mind, especially in regard to your spouse.
  37. Ask questions when you don’t understand your spouse’s perspective.
  38. Seek your spouse’s input and advice.
  39. Remember birthdays and your anniversary.  Celebrate BIG.
  40. Above all else, put Jesus first. Prioritize prayer, the study of God’s Word, and spiritual conversations.