16 Lessons in 16 Years of Marriage

In Advice and Encouragement, Marriage, Relationships by Debra Fileta

Today, John and I are celebrating 16 years of Marriage. With all the lessons we’ve learned about marriage in the past 16 years…we could write a whole book about marriage advice (although I guess I kind of did already #ChoosingMarriage). 

These are just some of the things that stand out to us personally… And things we have had to apply on a regular basis to keep our marriage, strong, alive, growing, and connected. 

We haven’t always gotten it right… But we’ve owned up to our mistakes and learned how to do it better. And I can genuinely say we’re better, more in love, and more connected today than we’ve ever been. And I don’t take that for granted!! It’s such a gift.

16 Lessons in 16 Years of Marriage:

  1. You can’t change your spouse – you can only change yourself which can influence your spouse. So keep healing, and learning and growing.
  2. A KING SIZE bed is a necessity. We don’t sleep cuddled…we cuddle and then go to our separate sides. It’s better for everyone that way.
  3. “I’m sorry” is only a small part of a genuine apology. Learn to apologize thoroughly and take ownership of your mistakes.
  4. Don’t go into an argument or conversation already assuming the worst about your spouse, start by giving them the benefit of the doubt.
  5. Schedule a time to check in weekly with one another to talk about your personal healing and the health of the relationship – it will transform your marriage.
  6. You can’t have full intimacy without full honesty. Live with NOTHING to hide.
  7. Save your hard conversations for your weekly check-ins. Let date night be about fun and connecting. Don’t mix the work of marriage with the play of marriage.
  8. Get comfortable talking about intimacy ASAP. Have sex often and talk about it often.
  9. Structure your life and time in a way where it’s obvious to everyone (kids, family, job) that your spouse comes first.
  10. Learn to receive feedback from your spouse without getting defensive. In a healthy marriage you each offer feedback to make the marriage better.
  11. Touch often…hold hands, kiss, cuddle, and stay connected physically outside of your sex life. Each touch is another tiny thread that holds you together.
  12. Don’t look at your spouse in cross sections of their worst moments. Learn to see them as a whole for who they have been to you over the years. We all have worst moments. Don’t let those moments define how you see each other.
  13. Offer encouragement more than you offer correction and suggestions. It’s honestly harder than it sounds, but you have to keep the emotional account full in order to make withdrawals.
  14. Stay deeply and intentionally connected to your relationship with God…Without the Holy Spirit, you will be a sub par spouse at best.
  15. Regularly check your own level of fullness…and take responsibility for getting yourself filled up in healthy ways. Because empty people make terrible spouses.
  16. When you get stuck (and you will get stuck) invite a trusted mentor or counselor who is ahead of you, to help you get unstuck. Surround yourself with people who have healthy marriages. And lean in and learn.

We haven’t always gotten these right… But we’ve owned up to our mistakes and learned how to do it better. The marriage we have today did not come by chance. It came by intentionality. 

If you want practical steps, detailed advice, and a candid look into what it means to invest in your marriage and take it to a better place, check out my book, Choosing Marriage. It’s filled with astonishing survey results from over 1,000 married people. I poured my heart and soul into it, and I believe it’s going to change marriages and relationships across the globe…one choice at a time. 

DEBRA FILETA is a Licensed Professional Counselor, national speaker, bestselling author, relationship expert, and founder of the Debra Fileta Counselors Network. She’s written six books including Choosing Marriage, True Love Dates, Love In Every SeasonAre You Really OK? ,Married Sex and RESET. She’s also the host of the hotline style Love + Relationships Podcast answering listener questions about love, relationships, and mental and emotional health. Her popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, reaches millions of people with the message of healthy relationships. Connect with her on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter or book an online session with her or someone from her team today!

Are you looking for counseling to help with any of the 16 lessons listed above? Schedule your online couples or individual session today with a Debra Fileta Counselors Network Counselor! Whether you are single, dating, engaged, married or working through some issues – a DFCN counselor will be able to listen and help you! Click Here to book an online session and to learn more!