17 Lessons from 17 Years of Marriage

Love Ring. by Daniel Lee, Flickr

Love Ring. by Daniel Lee, Flickr

This past weekend Tasha and I celebrated 17 years of marriage.

Comparing 17 years to the 72 years of marriage my grandpa and grandma enjoyed seems small. But 17 years is no small thing to us; these are 17 wonderful years to be celebrated!

As we celebrated this weekend, Tasha I decided to pull together our 17 Lessons from 17 Years of Marriage. Here are a few of the lessons from first 17 years:

  1. Prioritize Time Together
  2. Keep Short Accounts
  3. Laugh Often
  4. Learn and Speak One Another’s Love Language
  5. Appreciate, Don’t Expect
  6. Celebrate One Another, Including the Differences
  7. The Kids Are #2
  8. Ride the Waves like a Pro in the Ups and Downs of Life
  9. Keep the Friendship, and the Romance, Alive
  10. Give Tech a Timeout
  11. The Grass is Greenest Here
  12. Enjoy the Mountaintops and the Mundane
  13. Dream and Grow Together
  14. Change Yourself, Not Each Other
  15. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
  16. Listen and Learn
  17. Stay Connected to the Vine

While some of these are self-explanatory, in the remainder of this post I will provide a bit of commentary on the first four items and pick up the remainder in a future post.

1. Prioritize Time Together

A healthy marriage doesn’t just happen. It takes time—time together. So we start our list off with this simple and vital lesson: Prioritize Time Together. Do this daily through small acts like enjoying conversation over coffee or a meal. Do this weekly through time away from daily routines while out on a date. Do this quarterly and annually through retreats—spontaneous nights away at a bed and breakfast, camping over a weekend, or mini vacations. Do this periodically as you celebrate big for the 5, 10, 15-year and beyond anniversaries.

2. Keep Short Accounts

Learn to keep short accounts. It’s easy to hold on to what offends us, but this is not a recipe for healthy marriage. We are reminded in the Bible to “not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26). While this doesn’t mean that we magically forget all offenses as the sun goes down each day, this does point us to the principle of regularly, even daily, forgiving and being forgiven from the small offenses that can build up in a marriage.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). Similarly, we read in Colossians 3:13 to “bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” The Gospel reminds us that the need to forgive and be forgiven is a regular part of healthy relationships. Because we are forgiven by the Lord when we trust in Jesus, we also ought to regularly and generously forgive one another.

3. Laugh Often

Tasha and I love to hear each other laugh. I find that it is really hard not to smile when hear Tasha laugh. Laughing often is good for our relationship.

But there is one important qualification here. Humor and laughter needs to be with, not at, each other. Laughter at the other’s expense can be dangerous if it becomes the norm. While it is helpful to not take ourselves too seriously, regularly laughing at one another can slowly erode a healthy marriage. Rather, learn to laugh often with each other.

Remember, “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

4. Learn and Speak One Another’s Love Language 

What communicates love most to your spouse? Over our first 17 years, Tasha and I are continuing to learn and aiming to speak one another’s love language. While there are many ways to communicate love, author Gary Chapman points to five primary languages of love: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.

What is your primary and secondary love language? What are your spouse’s primary and secondary love languages? Are you taking time to learn these languages? Are you intentionally stepping out of your comfort zone to speak in the language that speaks to them?

For Tasha, 17 years tells me that quality time is a key love language for her. In the busyness of life, I can’t use a quick gift or word of affirmation to replace quality time. Time matters for most people, but it especially matters for my bride.

Learn your spouse’s love language and speak it often.


I’ll stop at #4, so that I can practice #1! Time to Prioritize Time Together over this post 🙂

As you think through your own relationships (marriage or friendships), how might you take the next step this week in (1) prioritizing time with those you love, (2) keeping short accounts, (3) laughing often, and (4) learning and speaking another’s love language.

I’ll pick up with #5 next round.

Find the Next Three Parts Here:

7 thoughts on “17 Lessons from 17 Years of Marriage

  1. Thank you for your words on celebrating your marriage. Congratulations! They are all so important and a great reminder to me. I needed to hear these words today.
    Thank you, Justin !

  2. Thank you Justin! I’m glad I visited this immediately tonight. I can always use several of these reminders you included here. I too often catch myself stressing & trying to put my plans before God’s plans. Then I look at my 3 yr old and it seems like she’s grown 3 inches since yesterday. I’ve got to learn to enjoy and appreciate the roller coaster more often.

  3. Pingback: 17 Lessons from 17 Years of Marriage, cont. (Lessons 5 – ­8) | Purpose in Leadership

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