Today is the first day of our 22nd year of marriage! (And, yes we were babies when we got married.) But what some of you may not know is, our story began long before our wedding day. Before Joey and I were even a thought, our mothers taught school together in a small town in south Arkansas. They were at work together when my mom was 4 months pregnant with me and Joey’s mom got the call that he had been born. They had been waiting prayerfully for years to adopt a baby. In a sense, then, we have known each other since before we were born! We both grew up in that school. He is the only person I have ever held hands with or kissed. He asked me to ‘go steady’ on Nov. 3, 1989 when we were in 9th grade. We went off to college together in ’93, got engaged that Christmas and married during Christmas break the next year. Joey was a youth pastor in a small town in east Arkansas at the time. We have been in ministry together ever since. We have lived in 4 countries and moved more times than I can count. We have served on staff at 6 different churches. We have 5 children. We have been through a miscarriage and a failed adoption. Life has been quite an adventure, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the next 21 years.
Last night as we celebrated our anniversary we prayed together. Our prayer has always been that God would allow our marriage and our family to be a light to others. We are certainly not perfect! We have had plenty of rough patches and don’t have all the answers. Nevertheless, I can honestly tell you we enjoy each other, and we enjoy our marriage. God has led me to keep a journal of marriage tips/advice to give to our children someday. Life is short. I don’t want to look back and say “I always meant to do that”. As I started writing, I thought some of you might be interested (if not, you should stop reading now:).
Here’s a glimpse of my ever growing list — 21 of the things we have learned in these 21 years from our marriage and from ministry in helping others with their marriages.
1. Always put God first, even above your spouse and children.
2. Your spouse comes next over children, friends and ministry.
3. Do everything you can together.
4. Go to church and minister together.
5. Be interested in what your spouse is interested in.
6. Listen to each other, really listen!
7. Commit to pray for one another and follow through DAILY.
8. Have real conversations. Ask what God is teaching them?
9. You will fight. Fight fair. Don’t be mean. Don’t lose your temper.
10. Don’t be too proud to say you’re sorry and move on. Forgive.
11. Don’t lead separate lives. It’s easier to drift apart than you might think.
12. Find godly couple friends and do life together. Help each other.
13. Touch each other every chance you get. Connect! Hug! Kiss! Often!
14. Don’t text, message or confide in anyone else of the opposite sex.
15. Don’t talk bad about your spouse or to your spouse.
16. Be nice to each other! Be nicer than you are to others.
17. Encourage one another. Be each others’ biggest cheerleaders.
18. Say “please” and “thank you” to each other. Serve one another.
19. Look for the good in each other. Be positive.
20. If you are having trouble connecting, re-evaluate your intimacy.
21. Share your needs. DO NOT expect your spouse to just know them!