In 2005, we tied the knot. Sealed the deal. Got hitched. Jumped the broom.

A year later, we moved to Chicago. From then on, it was an endless cycle of offenses, silent treatment, outbursts, and make up sex. The next three years of our marriage were rather rocky. Fast forward to 2019, our marriage is thriving, we have helped many people’s marriages not only survive but thrive; we have counseled scores of people getting married, and we have our own marriage charity. So the question is: how did we get from there to where we are now? We are not perfect, and our marriage has indeed grown by leaps and bounds. However if there is anything that we have learned from being married for 13+ years, it is that she had commitment, understanding, respect, and empathy will always win even when you are at the height of frustration. I am going to share some of the things that I learned from being married for over a decade.

  1. Respect: Respect your spouse. Respect their right to have opinions, respect their right to be themselves and sometimes, you have to respect your spouse’s right to be wrong. Yes! Respect the other person’s right to be wrong, and unless there is an Immediate life-threatening emergency, you can keep on talking things out. Respect should be mutual. It is often said that men want respect and women want love. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. Both parties need to love and respect. If you do not sow respect to your wife, as a man you will not reap respect from that marriage. Even in your most fierce arguments, respect should be maintained. If you respect someone, you will not degenerate to calling them names when you do not agree with them.
  2. Friendship: when all else fails, friendship will hold your marriage together. My husband is my best friend. We talk a lot about friendship in our book, The Balanced Marriage. Friendship, not romantic feelings is the lifeblood of your marriage. With your spouse as your “partner in crime“, you can weather any storm that the world will throw at you. Learn to value friendship in your marriage and be your spouse’s best friend.
  3. Help others: we were made heads of the couples fellowship of our church even while we had our own struggles. So as we had to research and find tools to help others, we helped ourselves. The Bible says, he who waters shell himself be watered. We watered others out of a desire to see others grow, and we ourselves received help for our marriage.
  4. What speaks “love” to your spouse? If you have heard of the five love languages, great! If not, read the book the five love languages by Gary Chapman. The five love languages are physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and giftgiving. While these are broad headings, I would like to challenge you to look deeper. Look deeper to find out what specific things speak to your spouse and do them on a regular basis. For example, I have a friend who is love language is gifts. However, if you give her make-up as a gift she will love you for life. In short, her love language is make-up. What specific subset of the love languages makes your spouse’s heart sing?
  5. Show up: show up for your marriage. Don’t leave your spouse thinking that you do not care about the marriage. Show up every day, in little ways and in big ways. Do not take your spouse for granted.

What have you learned from being married that you would like to share?

If you would like specific resources for your marriage, please visit our foundation The WHELM (We Help Marriages) Foundation here!

You will find posts, books and other resources to help you on your journey.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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