Boy, we were young. I look at the pictures from our wedding day and I barely recognize the two energetic, love struck kids I see. It seems like so long ago, yet I remember it as if it were yesterday.
I remember the silly Flintstone socks the men wore.
I remember the t-shirts we gave our parents so they could advertise their role in our wedding everywhere they went.
I remember the staged kiss, where we let our kiss linger until the pastors interrupted us.
But, most of all, I remember the commitment we made to one another . . . to love, honor, and respect, for better or for worse until death do us part . . .
Twenty-one years ago today.
Twenty-one seems like such a long time, and yet it has gone by so fast! What started out as two crazy kids has turned into 2 forty-something adults with 5 crazy kids.
And so, on this, our 21st anniversary, I’d like to offer my top 21 tips for keeping it together in marriage.
1. Keep Christ at the head of your relationship and your family. Jesus needs to be first or everything else will be out of whack.
2. Do not rely on your spouse to fulfill all of your emotional and spiritual needs. He just can’t.
3. Laugh together. Often.
4. Listen to one another. Without distractions.
5. Do not hold grudges. Keep past mistakes in the past.
6. Be your spouse’s number one encourager.
7. Do not talk badly about your spouse with your friends (or anyone else). Ever. (That includes jokes at his expense. See my earlier article on this topic here: https://cherigamble.com/2014/11/03/jokes-at-his-expense-theres-nothing-funny-about-disrespect/)
8. Be a servant. Even if this means picking up his dirty socks for the fifth time that week.
9. Keep dating one another. Even if this is simply a walk around your neighborhood.
10. Take an interest in his interests. (Yeah, even if that means staying up to watch the Blackhawk’s game so you can wake him up to tell him the final score because he has to go to bed early . . . They won, by the way!)
11. Pray for him daily. And specifically.
12. Make the first five minutes together at the end of the day a time to reconnect – not a time to complain about all the horrible stuff that happened during the day. (That can come later.)
13. Serve with him. Find a ministry you both love and volunteer together.
14. Nourish your own interests and gifts.
15. Don’t always have to be right.
16. Pray together.
17. Avoid situations that could threaten your relationship. This is especially relevant with social media and how easy it is to connect with anyone anywhere. Be very careful with who you connect (or reconnect) with, and if there would be any danger of a threat to your relationship, avoid it at all costs!
18. Do not let activities take over your life . . . slow down and enjoy the time you have together.
19. Recognize that love is a commitment, not a feeling. You will not always feel in love, but you should always stay committed!
20. Seek help from a 3rd party if difficulties arise. There is nothing wrong with seeing a counselor for marriage counseling or seeking the advice of a godly older couple.
21. Enjoy the journey. Time goes by fast! (21 years, is it really possible???)
I am so thankful that I said “Yes” (well, actually, I nodded my head) when that cute college kid asked me to marry him on that cold February night 20-some years ago. I have truly enjoyed the journey. And the best part about it is that God isn’t finished with us yet! We will continue to serve Him and love Him together and it will be fun to see what is yet to come.
Happy anniversary, Tom!