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    Top 10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Marriage

    Top 10 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Marriage

    Wow. Here we are: 10 years married! In one sense it feels like just yesterday and in another, I can’t really imagine my life without Chris by my side. In fact, I’ve almost spent half of my life with my hubby by my side. We’ve been together since I was 17 (so you can do the math to how old I am!). We talked about it last night as we were going to bed and I asked “How long does it feel to you that we’ve been married?” And almost in sync we both said “SIX YEARS!” Ha! Not sure why we both feel six is the right number, but it definitely does not feel like 10. 

    It’s hard to know where to even begin to reflect on what the last 10 years of marriage has been like for us. I think I could write multiple posts about the things I’ve learned: what not to do and what to do. While we are still going strong after 10 years of marriage, it has not come without its struggles. 

    Top 10 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Marriage

    The first year of my marriage was terrible. Honestly, so hard. Harder than I ever would have expected and yet never could have prepared for. The fights that happened were some of the worst I had ever had with anyone. There were honest moments where I thought to myself, “Did I just make the biggest mistake of my life?” (to which my hubby has admitted to wondering the same that first year). But we pushed through. When those moments were tough and love was the very last emotion we were feeling towards each other, that’s when we would choose love. We would remember our commitment before God and our family and friends. And we would remind ourselves of why we first fell in love and made this lifelong commitment.

    After about nine months of marriage, it seemed like that figurative dark cloud that had settled itself over our new marriage finally started to move along. We both began to FEEL more loving towards each other and find our new groove as a married couple. We knew we were a team, but we finally started acting like one. 

    10 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Marriage

    In the years that have followed, there have been many up’s and down’s, high’s and low’s, mountaintop’s and valley’s. We have experienced the joys of having children, the sorrow of loosing loved ones, the devastation of job loss, the anxiety of uprooting and moving to a new community, the excitement of job success, the wonder of new travels and so many other amazing things in between. 

    Our marriage is far from perfect. We still fight. We still disagree. If you know Chris and I personally, you know how different we are as individuals, Our personalities really do compliment each other but with that said, we tend to view things from polar opposite sides. While this is a great thing to bring balance to our perspectives, it can also create tension when we both think we are right. But the point is, we work at it. Constantly. And in seasons where we’ve failed to work at it, issues have arisen. 

    Marriage isn’t like your relationship with your favorite pair of shoes; that once they get worn and tattered, it’s time to toss them out and move on to another pair. Marriage is about work, hard work, dedication and commitment. It’s about loving your spouse, even when you don’t feel like it. It’s about being committed to your spouse, even when you see so many around you doing otherwise. 

    10 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Marriage

    So I thought I would pause for a moment today and reflect on things I’ve learned in our 10 years of marriage. I’m sure I could write about many other aspects, but here is a list of my Top 10 things that I would say we have continued to work on and have made the difference in why we are still standing strong as a couple today!

    10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Marriage

    1. Never go to bed angry at each other
    This is a lesson that I can remember my parents teaching me as I grew up. It’s also Biblical. In Ephesians 4:26 it says, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” I think the principle here is you never know what tomorrow holds. Truth is, we aren’t promised tomorrow. Make things right before the day ends (and this is really a good principle to practice even outside your marriage with your friends).

    In John 10:10 it actually says “The enemy comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy.” There is definitely one who is out there working to destroy your marriage and you need to do everything you can to protect it. No one else will but you and your spouse. Make sure you make every effort to resolve your arguments before the sun goes down. Let me tell you, there have been many nights where we have had to stay up, working it out because of this principle alone. It’s worth it.

    2. Learn from each other
    You and your spouse are two different people. Yes, you have been unified through marriage however, you are still two individuals, with two different mindsets and most likely two different sets of opinions. There is so much to be learned from each other. We often joke that Chris has helped soften me up while I’ve helped toughen him up! We bring a balance to each other that is healthy but more then that, we have made each other better people. And that’s because we have made it a point to learn from one another. 

    3. Don’t throw each other under the bus
    You have seen your spouse at their worst and also know their deepest weaknesses. But you are there to be their biggest allie. Don’t expose them in front of others. And if someone is ever tearing them down, stand up for them. You are their greatest support system. Protect them, defend them, rally for them…at all times!

    4. Your spouse should be your best friend
    While I have a pile of girlfriends whom I consider my besties, my husband is by far my closest friend. I share everything with him and I really believe that is the way it should be. You and your spouse are life partners. You walk through every day together and share some of the most amazing things together, especially if you have children. Cherish that friendship. Build into it, like you would into any other friendship that you have.

    I think when other people start knowing more about you than your spouse, that is where trouble can lurk. Especially if that friend is someone that you have a deep connection with that could potentially turn into more of an emotional connection. I have seen one too many of my friends marriages fall apart or become seriously strained from affairs of all sorts. It can happen to anyone. We are wired to desire intimacy in our relatiosnhips and companionship. So if you are not getting that from your spouse, naturally, you will look somewhere else. So nurture that friendship with your spouse. 

     5. Communicate, communicate, communicate
    I think this might be my favorite point on this list. And again, if you know me well, you know I have NO problem communicating exactly how I’m feeing. Possibly too well! But I’m convinced this has strengthened my marriage at times where things were not going well. Talk it out. Work it out. Hash it out. Even if there’s not an issue, communicate your wants and desires and ultimately your expectations. 

    Just yesterday, I decided that my new favorite flower were peonies. For years it has been hydrangeas. But more recently, I’m fallen in love with peonies. How would my husband know that? He doesn’t see all the pictures I like on Instagram of peonies!! So I let him know “Hey, if you were planning on getting flowers, peonies might be a good flower to find!” He told me afterwards how much he appreciated me telling him so he knew what my heart would love. Some might think that sounds crazy (and perhaps spoiled) but I think it’s a good thing to let your spouse know the things you love, to talk through your wants and communicate those expectations.

    Top 10 Things I've Learned in the last 10 Years of Marriage

    6. Find mutual hobbies that you really enjoy doing TOGETHER
    As I’ve mentioned earlier, hubby and I are really different. Like I mean, REALLY different. It actually wasn’t until about year five of our marriage that I all of a sudden discovered his insane love for fishing. He had NEVER fished in our eight years of dating/marriage before then. He LOVES to fish and let me tell you, if I were to try and think of one of the LAST activities I would ever want to participate in, it would most definitely be fishing! Honestly, ZERO desire.

    So fishing is not how we will connect. But we’ve been able to find other hobbies that we share mutual interest in and work at them together. For instance, our love of cooking. We love spending time together in the kitchen, trying new recipes and eating! We love to eat! We love entertaining and throwing parties. We love to travel and explore new places. A few summers ago we traveled down to Virginia for a family holiday and we decided that we would take the back roads all the way there, through all the small towns and it was so fun and memorable for us instead of driving the main highways. We both thoroughly enjoyed it and it brought us closer together as we were doing something together, that we loved.

    7. Laugh A LOT
    Laughter truly is the best form of medicine. And I mean REALLY laugh. Like big-belly filled laughs. There are moments where the tension has been high after a disagreement and all we can do is just start laughing. Instantly it feels like everything is better. And while that might not solve the issue, it definitely unites our hearts once again. 

    Now that we have children, I realize the importance of laughter that much more. Kids have this incredible ability to push on every single nerve all the way down into your soul. It’s unbelievable! And it can be really tough. My kids have helped make us more light hearted and learn to just laugh it off. 

    8. Forgive easily and quickly
    Don’t hold a grudge against your spouse. You want to talk about a relationship killer, it would be unforgiveness. Your spouse will let you down. They will say the wrong thing. They will hurt you in some way because no one is perfect. You need to forgive and forgive easily. There have been times where I’ve wanted to hold onto my anger towards Chris about something that he said or did and in the end, it’s only hindered ME more. That’s the thing with unforgiveness…it develops into bitterness and once bitterness takes root into your heart, such ugly things flow from it. Forgive him. Forgive her. 

    9. Learn what each other is good at and let them do that
    So very early on in our relationship, we discovered that Chris was not gifted clerically and administratively. My dad has a keen sense of financial matters and had raised my sister and I to be the same. So naturally, I took over the finances in our marriage. And to this day, I still pay all the bills and so on. Chris knows everything that is going on and I will often tell him what is coming up and where certain money is going and where we need to watch our spending, but at the end of the day, that isn’t his strength, it’s mine. So that’s how we operate. Don’t force them to assume a task that is not within their natural giftings. We all bring certain giftings into our marriage, learn what they are and each of you operate within those. 

    10. Above all, choose love
    And at the end of the day, if all else fails, choose love. Colossians 3:14 says “And above all else, put on love, which binds us all together in perfect unity.” You know when Tina Turner asked the world “What’s love got to do with it” back in the 1984? Well the answer is that is has EVERYTHING to do with it! Especially in todays society where we are constantly being fed the lie that everything is based on how we FEEL and it’s all about US and what is best…I couldn’t disagree more. And I think that is why so many marriages fail. When we make love to be nothing more than just a feeling and about what serves us best. 

    When I said my vows 10 years ago, I vowed “for better or for worse.” Translation: when I feel like it and when I don’t. There WILL be days when you don’t FEEL love towards your spouse, I almost guarantee you that. Those are the days where love is a choice. In the same way that I know I HAVE to drink water multiple times a day to survive, even when I get sick of drinking plain, boring water, I know that there will be days that I have to choose to love my hubby, for our marriage to survive. Love is a verb…it is so much more than a feeling or a desire. It requires action, it requires a choice. Choose love, everyday.

    Top 10 Things I've Learned in the last 10 Years of Marriage

    Well there you have it, my Top 10 list of things I’ve learned in the last 10 years of marriage. I’d love to hear some feedback from you on which point resonates most with you or if there’s something you think I missed. Let me know in the comments below!

    Love & Blessings,





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  • Reply Very Erin June 25, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I love this list! My husband and I have been married ONE month, so I love hearing the marriage advice!

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      Congrats girl! I pray this first year is amazing for you both! xox

  • Reply Brittany Bergman June 25, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Congratulations on 10 whole years of marriage! That’s amazing, and I’m wishing and praying for many wonderful years ahead for you two. I could not agree more with all of these, especially “forgive easily and quickly.” In my scientific opinion, I’d say that 95% of things are not worth dragging out. I also love the practice of finding hobbies you enjoy together, and also respecting while still encouraging each other’s separate hobbies. Dan definitely is not a blogger, but he is interested in what I say about it and he reads my stuff because I love it and he loves me. I’m learning to do the same with stocks and investments — yikes!

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:09 pm

      HA! Now that might be a bit harder to get into, I would think! But good for you for trying girl! xox

  • Reply Heather Serra June 25, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I love this post. It’s very sweet & very honest at the same time. I’ve always heard “Don’t go to bed angry” but I never really thought that deeply into it. We really aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Congratulations on a decade of marriage!!!

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      It’s so true…you never know what will happen! Thanks for stopping by! xox

  • Reply Shauna@takingonordinary June 25, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    LOVE! #5 is the biggest one for me. I think 90% of the fights I have with my hubby come down to a lack of communication!

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      It’s huge! And sometimes it can be easier to keep it all in but in the long run, so damaging to your relationship. Thanks for stopping by! xox

  • Reply Shannon Ketchum June 25, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I love this list! My hubby and I will be married for ten years in December and I agree with all ten :). Thanks for sharing. Marriage is work, but it’s so very worth it.

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      Congrats to you as well! Thanks for stopping by! xox

  • Reply Sara Strand June 25, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I so agree! I think so many people give up on marriage far too easily. I also think it’s hard to admit when it’s ourselves being just as difficult to love as well. Nobody wants to hear how crappy of a spouse they can be, but sometimes we need to hear it and be open to hearing it.

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      Absolutely! I’ve had to hear it and you’re right, it sucks, but it’s made our marriage so much better! Thanks for stopping by Sara! xox

  • Reply Ashley June 25, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    One of my biggest things is not to go to bed angry. No matter how big the fight we always say we love each other and kiss each other goodnight and apologize and talk things out. It really is the best.

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      I couldn’t agree more! xox

  • Reply Kristen Sampson June 25, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    I think what I love the most about this post is your honesty. I think sometimes we like to pretend like everything is perfect and that becomes part of the problem. I too, thought the first year of marriage was hard. I love your bullet points because they are things I value in my relationship too! Great to read them from someone else! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      My pleasure Kristen! And I think it’s best to be honest…makes everything more related to others! Thanks for stopping by! xox

  • Reply Anita L. June 25, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    Congrats!!! I love everything you’ve shared. Thanks for being very honest and also giving example for each point. That’s definitely helpful. And beeeeeeauuutiful wedding photos, too!

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      Awe thanks so much Anita! xox

  • Reply Chantal June 25, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Great post! Laugh and lot and not going to bed angry are so key! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us!

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      My pleasure! Still learning myself! xox

  • Reply Kayla June 25, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    This is super helpful, girl! I guess I’m a nerd, but I’ve been doing a lot of reading about relationships lately given that my fiancé and I will be getting married in November. Communication is key, so I work really hard on that. I’m also a big believe in not going to bed angry, but my fiancé would rather have some time to think about things which drives me mad lol. Congrats on 10 years! Wishing you and your hubby ten thousand more!! xoxox, Kayla http://www.lostgenygirl.com

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:05 pm

      Thanks girl! And super exciting for you guys as you get ready for marriage! Wishing you guys all the best! xox

  • Reply Pam June 26, 2015 at 12:35 am

    Perfect advice Christine! Happy Anniversary! 10 years is no small feat these days!! I hope you guys really celebrated! 🙂

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Thanks friend! We really enjoyed out weekend away! xox

  • Reply Ashleigh June 26, 2015 at 12:36 am

    This is so perfect! I love #1, don’t go to bed angry! Not always easy, especially in those first few years of marriage, but so important. My husband and I always hold hands when we go to sleep, even if on is already in bed, and there have been times I never wanted to see him again and we were not communicating to each other, yet, we still held hands. It makes such a difference. And your first year was our second year… so dang hard! But we made it and now things are better than ever, almost 10 years later. Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      That’s so sweet! I love that idea of holding hands, even when not “feeling” it! So great! Thanks for sharing! xox

  • Reply LiNdsay June 26, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Marriage is the hardest and most effort I’ve ever put into anything. It’s so worth it but yes there are days you feel like throwing in the towel. It isn’t or shouldn’t be that easy. Put in the effort and you’ll reap the rewards.

    Happy anniversary again love. Xo

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      You’re bang on…put in the effort and reap the rewards! Love it! Thanks friend! xox

  • Reply Jessica H. June 26, 2015 at 8:45 am

    We’re going on our third year of marriage this Summer and it’s relieving to know that the first year seems to be the hardest for everyone. I, too, had those doubtful thoughts enter my head that first year. He’s put up with a lot. I’ve put up with a lot. But communication is definitely key to a successful marriage and relationship. This is a great list! Happy Anniversary!

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:02 pm

      Thanks Jessica! And you’re right, it is A LOT to go through and I think it’s just so important to share that with others so that they aren’t blindsided by all the work that is needed to make it succeed! xox

  • Reply Laura June 26, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Such great insight, Christine! It’s hard to believe that 10 years has gone by already… it seems not that long ago that it was your wedding day! Happy Anniversary to you both. xoxo

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      Crazy, right?! Thanks Laura! We miss you girl! Come visit when you are home! xox

  • Reply Jess Beer June 26, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Happy Anniversary! I agree with a LOT of this list… but sometimes we go to bed mad (like last night). For me, sometimes I need that time to cool down and it actually helps us – when he apologized this morning I forgave him more easily that I would’ve last night. Every marriage is different, but so many of these apply!

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      I definitely agree in that people need a cooling off period. Glad you were able to kiss and make-up! xox

  • Reply Jessica June 26, 2015 at 10:45 am

    #1 – Never go to bed angry. Before I was married, I read a quote that read “never go to bed angry – stay up and fight” and I thought it was strange. But, in retrospect, it’s better to stay up and fight for instead of letting your anger simmer and getting up and still being angry with each other. Cold anger is truly toxic for a marriage.

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 10:35 pm

      Absolutely! That’s why it’s #1 on the list! Thanks for stopping by! xox

  • Reply Jacynta June 28, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    happy anniversary again! #6 has been a bit of a struggle for us but something we’re definitely working on.
    such a great list for someone like me that’s heading into marriage soon. love being able to read things like this and have examples of real marriages i can look up to.

    • Reply Christine June 30, 2015 at 11:00 pm

      Awe thanks Jacynta! I’m so excited for you guys as you enter into marriage! So many awesome days ahead! xox

  • Reply jessica July 18, 2015 at 12:26 am

    This is one of my FAVORITE post by you. I love how you dig deep—this is something I will not let myself do. I read this when it was first posted and planned on commenting but never got to it. I agree whole-heartedly with you on all of this, especially on #2 and #3—I come from a broken family where as my husband does not and his family is extremely close, to a point that it is annoying….Anyways, I definitely toughened my husband up and he has definitely softened me—I typically have a “I can do bad myself” attitude and he is just SO nice. The longer we are married, the nicer I am—I do not think I am horrible, I just am for the most part blunt and straight to the point whereas he puts some sugar on a everything…if you know what I mean. Now that my kids are older and developing into their own, I find myself still blunt but coating it with sugar. The last thing I want them to have a hardcore attitude. I never had one growing up, but deep DEEP down, especially in my mind, I have one. MY mom and sis are very straight forward—that is where I get it from, but I try extremely hard to be nice when I do not agree with something—we are all tender to some degree. #3 hit home and almost had me balling (crying)…I have forgiven my husband but he totally threw me and fed me to the wolves (his family) when we lived with them while my husband was jump starting his career. I could not even ask him for help w/o his mother jumping at me and constantly disrespecting and telling me how to raise my kids and how to look and blah blah blah blah blah…His sisters would curse and call my kids names and when I would stand up for them (my kids) they would ignore me. My husband was gone all the time and did not know how to confront his family, so he did not say anything until we moved—I endured their “abuse” the whole time I was miserable and developed depression and PPD there. I think they made me CRAZY! I really do! Despite the drama with my in-laws, I Love my husband, we have been together since we were 17 (as well) and we were each other’s first love. I know his heart and he knows mine. I trust him, I have forgiven him, and the longer we are married the happier we are–we have had our ups and downs, but without those trials we would not be as strong as we are today. Thanks for this post!

    • Reply Christine July 19, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      Wow! I’m sorry to hear what you went through Jess. In-laws and their families can be so difficult. I can’t imagine living with them and having to endure that. I’m glad to hear you guys pushed through and are stronger for having walked through that! Thanks for reading and for your encouragement, love! xox

  • Reply Jaclyn July 19, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    Thank you so much for your honesty about the first year, because I always feel guilty about how rocky our first year was. Granted, we did have a newborn, little sleep, and lots of hormones, but I always hear that the first year is the honeymoon phase…and I apparently missed the boat on that one. 😉

    • Reply Christine July 20, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      Ha! Well, you and me both missed the boat on that one! Just one more thing in common! xox

  • Reply Salome July 24, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    I loved this, “Love is a verb…it is so much more than a feeling or a desire. It requires action, it requires a choice. Choose love, everyday.”

    • Reply Christine July 30, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this girl! And glad we actually have met now in person! xox

  • Reply Mwali September 8, 2015 at 12:28 am

    Thanks for sharing your precious advice Christine. Even months after your posting, this is probably one of my favourite articles on your blog. I can’t believe that you’ve already got 10 years of married advice to give, but I can only hope that you and Chris will rejoice as the years and experience as a married couple continue to add up. I’m looking forward to you sharing more delightful tips and tricks! Your wisdom is highly valued. Hopefully I’ll be able to use your advice one day! Much love and blessings to your family Christine! 🙂

    • Reply Christine September 9, 2015 at 10:32 am

      Awe!Thanks Mwali! Glad you enjoy this post so much and have found some bits of goodness in here! All the best! xox

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