20 Lessons Learned After 20 Years of Marriage (Final)

Here’s the fifth and final post in our series, 20 Lessons Learned After 20 Years of Marriage.

20Lessons Learned

As a reminder, I’d like to say that these are in no particular order and they have all become very important to us.  Here’s the final 3 lessons!

18.  God’s grace is still amazing.  I’m usually the first one to say things like,

“good marriages aren’t randomly found by a lucky few, but forged together by two people willing to work at it everyday.”  And rightfully so, because it reminds me to take ownership of, and responsibility for, my marriage – without placing blame on anyone or anything else for its current condition.  Taking personal responsibility is a fairly consistent theme of mine whenever I write or speak about marriage because positive change never occurs without it.

However, there is a greater reality at work in my marriage that rounds out the entire picture; and that greater reality is God’s grace in my life.  Grace is defined as something God gives us that we do not deserve.  Its an unmerited gift.  Therefore, Debbie (and our life together) is a gift from God, not an achievement of mine.  Pure and simple.

The problem comes when I start believing that I have somehow built a marriage to be proud of; or that the happiness we share is solely a result of my choices.  The daily choices I make are extremely important, but even when I have taken responsibility and done the right thing, it was the Spirit of God in me enabling me to do it.  (for more on this principle, see my post entitled, Transform Your Marriage From the Inside Out)

I really don’t deserve it.  To think that I somehow earned the right to be loved by Debbie is ridiculous.  The beauty of who she is – her spirit, her smile, her energy, and most of all…her strong, consistent love for me is nothing more than a profound expression of God’s grace and love in my life.  Period.

When you’re given a beautiful gift (a truly astonishing gift for which you can take no credit), the goal isn’t to take credit for it…the goal is to cherish it.

19.  The honor of influence.  Debbie has been positively influencing me since the first day we met in high school.  Her passion for life, focus toward what she wanted to do with her life, and personal disciplines have rubbed off on me in many ways.

For example, she was a phenomenal student – at the top of her class in everything; and there’s no question that my grade point average in high school and college would have been much lower if it were not for her.  She influenced me for the better…and she still does.

Both Ephesians 5 and I Peter 3 give insight on how we are influenced by our spouse for the better – particularly in the area of spiritual growth.  The Ephesians 5:25-33 passage is written for husbands and challenges us to be as concerned for our wife’s spiritual growth as we are our own.  The I Peter 3:1-6 passage is written for wives and gives instruction on how they can create an atmosphere that encourages spiritual growth in their husbands.

The principle here is that God linked us together with our spouse that we might positively influence one another, which is a profound honor.

One of the reasons God brought us together is to pull out the best version of ourselves, so-to-speak.  To grow and mature at a much faster rate than if we had never met.  This is accomplished by praying together, holding each other accountable, affirming each others gifts and strengths, and even lovingly challenging each other when necessary.

God linked us together with our spouse to positively influence one another, which is a profound honor Click To Tweet

There is much more I could say about lesson #19, but in short, we’ve learned that God brought us together to help us reach our fullest potential.

20.  God’s Word is rock solid.  The Bible is the by far the best marriage manual we’ve ever found.  It addresses everything you ever needed to know about building a healthy, life-long marriage.  Everything from communication, forgiveness, love, romance, sex, adventure, gender differences, money management, resolving conflict, child-rearing, etc…it’s all in there.

And it’s not just informative, its transformative.  It has the power to actually transform your own heart, and the way you relate to one another.

And I love how simple it is.  Today’s marriage books can be very complicated.  The Bible, however, is simple and effective.  For example, here’s a few verses that are simple and straight to the point:

James 5:16 – Pray for one another

Ephesians 5:21 – Submit to one another

I John 3:23 – Love one another

Colossians 3:13 – Forgive one another

Galatians 5:13 – Serve one another

Ephesians 5:33 – The wife must respect her husband

Ephesians 5:33 – Each of you (husbands) must love his wife as he loves himself

I Peter 1:7 – Husbands be considerate with your wives and treat them with respect

Maybe we don’t always need the latest book on how to forgive…and the 9 recommended steps to take.  Maybe the Bible is simple because forgiveness can actually be, well….simple.  With the Holy Spirit’s help, He gives us the ability to forgive.

Maybe loving and respecting each other is also very simple; and as we walk in relationship with Christ everyday, He empowers us to love and respect one another in the unique context of our own marriage.

Maybe learning to communicate better is as simple as James 1:19: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.  Let’s all try that for a couple weeks and see what God can do.

In short, we’ve learned that studying, meditating upon, and memorizing marriage-related Scriptures is the best marriage-improvement program out there.

We've learned that studying marriage-related Scriptures is the best marriage-improvement program out there. Click To Tweet

Well, there it is folks.  My list of 20 lessons.  I hope this series has encouraged you to pursue greater things in your relationship with your spouse.

Feel free to leave a comment below.  What’s a lesson on your personal list?  We’d love to hear about it.


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    Stephen has been blogging since 2014, and he enjoys writing honestly and openly about married life. He and Debbie are high school sweethearts and have been married for 20 years. They love a meaningful conversation, a rich cup of coffee, an inspiring movie, a perfectly prepared meal, and planning their next vacation.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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