20 Lessons Learned After 20 Years of Marriage (Part 4)

Twenty years is a long time to be married, and it’s certainly enough time to learn a few things.  Here’s 20 Lessons Learned After 20 Years of Marriage (Part 4).

20Lessons Part4

15.  Marriage is the greatest test of my leadership.  I enjoy reading about leadership.  I enjoy watching and learning from good leaders.  I often reflect on my own leadership experiences in my ministry career as a pastor – both past and present.  I enjoy the challenge of leading people well, and I even have a master’s degree in Ministerial Leadership for crying out loud.  All of that to say…

None of it compares to the high calling of being a Christ-like husband in my marriage

In fact, none of it really matters unless I’m loving, serving, and leading well at home.  The New Testament says a person who aspires to leadership in the church must be able to manage his own family well (I Timothy 3:4-5).  I couldn’t agree more.  Good leadership begins at home.

Ephesians 5 says husbands are to love and lead their wives in the same way Jesus loves and leads the church…and gave Himself up for her.  Just as Jesus unselfishly sacrificed everything (think of His incarnation, His crucifixion, etc.) and did what was best for the church, I am to do the same for Debbie…everyday; so that she can flourish, thrive, and become everything God intended.  That’s what real leadership is – serving others that they might flourish in their own God-given calling, purpose, talents, and gifts.

husbands are to love & lead their wives the way Jesus loves & leads the church, and gave Himself up for her Click To Tweet

16.  Sex isn’t just the icing on the cake, its a key ingredient.  It isn’t just the icing on the cake to be enjoyed on special occasions.  It needs to be a regular and consistent part of every marriage.  It is a key ingredient to a healthy, growing marriage.  God says as much in I Corinthians 7:3

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband

Please don’t flip out ladies.  This doesn’t mean your husband can act like a complete jerk all day and then come running to you when he’s in the mood, quoting I Corinthians 7:3.  If he does, just have him read Ephesians 5 again.  That should straighten him out.  This verse is not a license for manipulation or abuse.  OK, now that we have that out of the way, here’s what it does mean:

It means God strongly encourages married couples to have sex on a regular basis

A couple verses later it says, “Do not deprive each other.”  The word deprive in the original language (Greek) actually means defraud, which means to cheat someone.  God is literally saying do not cheat, defraud each other from the wonderful gift He created for married couples…the gift of intimacy.  A gift that he intended to grow over the years, not diminish.  A gift He intended to be celebrated and enjoyed for a lifetime.  Contrary to popular opinion, married sex can and does thrive.  It can actually get better over the years, not worse.

God strongly encourages married couples to have sex on a regular basis #I Corinthians7:3 Click To Tweet

There is a lot I want to say here about sex (especially regarding the many ways its good for your marriage), but I’ll wait for a future post.  For now, I’ll just say that we’ve learned that sex is not a fringe issue.  It is core to the health of our marriage, and often an indicator of the general health of our relationship.

17.  Our marriage is a ministry.  Many people have said to us over the years that they’ve learned some good things about marriage simply by watching us.  These are usually people we’ve never talked to about marriage.  They never attended one of our conferences or events.  They never listened to us teach about marriage.  They just…watch.

I’m humbled whenever someone says this because I have intimate knowledge of all the times I’ve failed as a husband and not lived up to the Ephesians 5 standard.  Believe me…I know what it’s like to be passive, lazy, moody, inconsiderate, and generally checked-out from Debbie’s needs and desires.

None-the-less, its a reminder that my marriage has influence.  And if you’re reading this and you’re married…so does yours.  It’s influencing what other people think and believe about marriage – especially your kids.  And in today’s increasingly anti-marriage culture, people need to see healthy (nobody said anything about perfect) marriages.  Our marriages are, after all, intended to be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the church.

I trust these posts are an encouragement to you.  If so, please consider joining our email list if you haven’t done so already.  You can also share this post with your friends via email, Facebook , or Twitter.


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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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