18 Things God Has Taught Me in 18 Years of Marriage

18 years ago I married my best friend, my perfectly perfect soul mate. This wild and crazy man could make me laugh by doing nothing. There isn't anyone else I would rather grow old with. So many people boldly told us that we would never last more than 6 months to a year and here we are, 18 years later, more in love than ever. We've had our ups and downs but fought for what was important to us, our marriage.

And with that, I give you 18 things God has taught me in 18 amazingly wonderful years of marriage.

1.  It's not all about me.  That's a hard lesson to learn, isn't it? Contrary to what the world tells you, it's not about your happiness. It’s not about getting your needs met. It’s about going through life together and serving God and each other. It’s about committing yourselves to each other, even though you may be different people in the years to come.

2.  It's worth fighting for.  I know that it is not always easy, but it is always worth it. I'm thankful for a strong marriage.  It saddens me to see how many people don't fight for it, they just give up and walk away.  Goodness, Joe and I both could have walked away a trillion times by now.  But we staid, fought and allowed God to script our love story.

3.  Marriage is not about living happily ever after.  If we were honest, we all crave a fairy-tale and a happy ending. I know I sure did. The problem isn't wanting a fairy-tale romance but trying to compare your marriage and your spouse to those whirlwind romances in the movies. Open your heart up to Gods love first and He will show you how to truly love your husband without unreal expectations.

4.  You can't change them.  And honestly, stop trying.  The only thing you CAN do is pray for them.  Pray without ceasing.  Pray for their heart, their actions, their day...basically pray for them from head to toe.

5.  The more you put into your marriage, the more you'll get out of it.  Marriage takes a lot of work and time, there is no doubt about that. Realize that straight away and commit to it. Go into marriage knowing your not going to have a 50/50 marriage, but a 100/100 marriage. Give your all because you love them, not because you expect something in return.

6. Most fights are over stupid things. Honestly, stupid things that don't really even matter. I always think of what a dear friend told me once...in light of eternity, is that even important? When I was younger {okay, and even sometimes now} I always wanted to prove my point and have the last word.  Not one of my most endearing qualities.  I've learned it's more important to prove your love than your point. You do that by not arguing over stupid things.

7.  You can't do it on your own.  This is a lesson we learned the hard way.  Marriage is difficult. That is obvious when you see how many couples end in divorce. It's two imperfect people living together, failing daily. The only way to make your marriage truly work is to center it on Christ. God intended marriage to mirror His relationship with the church so that we could basically be a testimony to others and SHOW them what God is like. You have to rely on God for wisdom, power, love and strength for your marriage.

8. Sex is important. No, it's not everything, but God designed sex and marriage to go hand in hand. God intended sex to create a oneness within our marriage. We don't want to feel deprived and neither do our spouses. Remember "What God has joined together, let no one separate".

9. Make time for each other a priority.  Make any time together into a mini-date. Whether it is running to the grocery store or a quick little ride on the 4-wheeler together. Snuggle in, hold hands and make that time together count.

10. Have fun together! One thing I can say about Joe and I is we can have fun {and laugh ridiculous amounts} doing anything! We need to make sure we do the fun together too! Fun is a key ingredient to a successful friendship. No one wants to spend time with a Debbie Downer. Laugh. And laugh. And laugh some more.

11. Never go to bed angry. I know we've all heard that one before but it sure is true!  I know when you're in the heat of an argument {see #6} that last thing you feel like doing is either saying you're sorry.  But snuggle in, embrace your forgiving heart and say "we can't agree, but we can forgive".    

12.  Put them first! Don’t just let your spouse be a best friend. Make them your most important friend! Your relationship with your spouse should come before any other relationship in your life, short of your relationship with the Lord.

13. Love them anyway. Isn't that what best friends are for? Sometimes I'm sassy and hard to love, but thank God my husband loves me anyway!

14.  Don't be unfaithful. This is huge. Marriage is sacred, period. Being unfaithful to your spouse proves that not only do you not respect them but you are also untrustworthy. The pain it bring is in no way, shape or form worth it.

15.  Don't compare your marriage to movies. The problem isn't wanting a fairy tale romance but trying to compare your marriage and your spouse to those whirlwind romances in the movies. So many times I've been guilty of that myself, and I simply set myself up for disappointment and failure. We need to truly love our husbands without unreal expectations.

16.  Pursue them. Now, this one is a bit tricky. Men and women are so different. I know, right, can I get an Amen? Pursuit, to most men, means feeling desired (sex) and affirmed through respect, honor and appreciation. Most women, on the other hand, are more likely to want to be pursued through time, attention and tenderheartedness (guys, read that as "romance").

17.  Marriage is about the glory of God. Contrary to popular belief, marriage isn't all about our own personal happiness. God intended marriage to mirror His relationship with the church so that we could basically be a testimony to others and SHOW them what God is like. Your marriage, your covenant-keeping love, will be your greatest witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

18.  Don't be disrespectful. Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. {Ephesians 5:33} I've read this verse over and over again. it doesn't say respect your husband only when you feel he deserves it, it doesn't say he has to GIVE respect to GET respect and it's certainly not up to us to deem when he is worthy of it. God was pretty clear with this verse, the wife MUST respect her husband.