Practical Lessons from 25 Years of Marriage

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October of 2019 will be 25 years of marriage to the Amazing Jess. I wanted to share a practical list of things that other husbands should be doing, for their part, in loving their wives and contributing to a successful marriage.

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A little context

We had two sons very early in our marriage. Jess was a stay-at-home mom and homeschooled up through middle and some high school. I’ve worked wherever I’ve needed to work to pay the bills but also follow God’s call on my life, which means my family’s life. It’s a package deal. There has been Asperger’s, broken limbs, job losses, depression (her and I and kids), late-in-life chronic illness diagnoses, but also many laughs and much fun. I just wanted to give you some framework for what’s coming.

Also, from before the beginning, our marriage has been rooted in a set of principles and beliefs about what marriage is, where it comes from, and how it works. Also too much to 'splain here, but they provided the solid foundation beyond the emotions of love/lust that many marriages seem to be based on. That’s not a judgy as it sounds, but as they say, the proof is in the pudding.

So, husbands, for your own part, regardless of what your wife is or isn’t doing, here are my tips for you. Some need some explanation. The rest don’t.

Whenever you are away from the house, find out if she wants you to stop at the store on the way home.

Some of my favorite superhero

This has been a big one. You will score serious points if you do this every day. These points are not for you to cash in at your will, but they will be there somewhere. Get the milk, kitty litter, tampons, whatever. In that moment you will be the hero.

Check in often, but not too often.

AIM: texting before it was cool.

AIM: Texting before it was cool.

Let’s call this a “sanity check.” When our kids were little we used AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM to check in with each other. She could vent about the babies or the pot-smoking neighbors, and I could tell her about funny customers (no, you can’t stack CDs in the drive and have the computer read both of them).

It was very valuable to our marriage to connect periodically throughout the day. 

Now we all carry smart phones that have more ways to communicate via text than via voice. Honestly, I never talk on my phone. If I call my wife or she me, we think something must be wrong.

Be the friend to your wife that no other woman can be and no other man should be.

Or, empathize, don’t just sympathize.

As any woman will tell you, women are weird toward other women. For example, according to my wife, did you know that when a woman picks an outfit and puts on makeup, it’s not for you? It’s for other women. Your liking is it just a bonus. Women tend to be judgy about other women. The last thing they need is for you to do the same.

Does your wife wear sweats or PJs a lot? Who cares! Wear them with her. They’re super comfy.

Does she eat the entire double-burger, all the fries, and down the whole shake? Does she steal some of your fries in the process? So what? Don’t me mad, be impressed.

Ron Burgundy's priorities

Ron Burgundy's priorities

As for other men, all men are dogs, or at least have the potential to be. If you don’t offer her the support, encouragement, praise, and care, AKA friendship, that she needs as a female person that is your wife, another man will and that is not OK. You started out as friends, hopefully. That should never go away.

As for other men, all men are dogs, or at least have the potential to be. If you don’t offer her the support, encouragement, praise, and care, AKA friendship, that she needs as a female person that is your wife, another man will and that is not OK. You started out as friends, hopefully. That should never go away.

Be the friend to your wife that no other woman can be and no other man should be. #husband #marriagetips

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Say “no” when it’s for the good of the marriage, not just yourself. 

Or, it’s not about you, it’s about y’all.

Sometimes your wife will want something. To do something, to buy something, to go somewhere, and for whatever reason you will find it annoying, cost more than you think it should, or inconvenient. Because of this your initial reaction will be to say, “No.” 

What would happen if you said, “Yes”? She would be happy for one thing. But you might discover something new that you like together. Almost everything is an opportunity.

The time to say “no” is when it really is bad for everyone. Financially, relationally, it causes massive upheaval for all, it might be time to say no. How do you do that? See the next pointer.

Offer balance or perspective, not just criticism.

It’s too easy to just say what you think. Too many husbands bring only criticism, and it isn’t even justified criticism. Especially if it’s just saying, “That sounds stupid,” or, “Why would we do that?”

Hopefully you want her to see things from your perspective. If you’re just a tyrant who wants his way, well, this isn’t the list for you. She also wants you to see things from her perspective. Stop, look at both sides, and bring some balance to the conversation. Maybe you aren’t seeing something she is. Maybe she isn’t seeing something you do. Listen, don’t just react.

Don’t just capitulate either. 

The point is, it’s never you vs her. You are in one marriage, not two. You are on the same team. Make the call together.

The cliche is true; love is not a feeling, it is a choice.

I won’t spend a lot of time on this one. There will be hours, days, maybe weeks where you don’t feel love for her, and honestly it might be mutual. You made a promise. You entered into a covenant. Love is sacrificial and sometimes that sacrifice is your pride, your needs, your time, your favorite things. 

You wanna know what love is (Foreigner, 1984)? Luv is a verb (dc Talk, 1992, don’t hate). Make the choice. Die to yourself daily. That’s how love works. That’s what love looks like. When you choose to love, when you choose to see her as her best, not as her worst, the feels will be there regardless.

Be humble enough to do what is needed.

This also falls into the “it’s not about you” category. Sometimes you need to do something for the good of the marriage that feels like it’s just about you. Go to the doctor. Lose the weight. Get on the depression meds. Cut back on the golf. Go to the gym. Start a hobby because you’re stuck in a rut and need an outlet.

When you take care of yourself you are taking care of your marriage.

The rest are self explanatory 

  • Use your lunch breaks to take her flowers a couple of times a month.
  • Jane Austen movies aren’t that bad. Make some popcorn and sit with your wife. Just don’t ask too many questions about which Jane is which.
  • Coloring can be fun.
  • Whatever it is, it doesn’t make her butt look big, it makes her butt look good.

Next Steps

I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

  • What have you learned over the years?
  • Come back and post some comments if you try any of these.
  • Feel free to post questions.

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Thanks for reading!

About the Author Corby Stephens

Married 25 years, two grown sons, 20+ years in professional IT as well as pastoral ministry, public speaker, standup, writer, Bible teacher, just passing on what I have learned.

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