How to Bless, Strengthen, and Protect Your Marriage

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 45 of our favorite things learned in 40+ years of marriage. What works. What doesn't. And how to have fun in the adventure.

It will be 45 years since Rev asked me to marry him tomorrow. 45 years! 

Wow! I guess it’s true . . . time flies when you’re having fun!

Our engagement wasn’t a big flashy affair. It was late on a Thursday night. I’d gotten a ride to Fort Wayne, Indiana from River Forest, Illinois and arrived at Rev’s dorm before he got home from working at the Post Office.

We’d looked at rings earlier and I had a feeling this might be the weekend he would propose.

I was not to be disappointed.

I don’t remember any of the details except seeing him drop to one knee and hearing him say the words, “Will you share the rest of your life with me? Will you marry me?”

And I said, “YES”

He’d already won my heart long before.

In 40+ years we raised a family, served in ministry and ran a business. We’ve purchased homes, cars, and stuff to go in them. We’ve laughed and cried together. There have been easy days and hard days. It’s been an adventure and by God’s grace, I’m praying the adventure continues for a loooong time.

I think Rev would agree that we’ve learned a lot about marriage and living life together. What works and what doesn’t.

Like learning in those early months that holding in hurt feelings and dumping a whole avalanche of tears and frustration at once is not as effective as talking something through as soon as it happens. Yes, I did that.

Or learning that Rev’s love didn’t change when my weight increased by 35 pounds the summer after we were married. Nor did it change when I lost that weight over the following year.

I also learned that “I’m not very hungry tonight,” meant please don’t ever make this again.

And that was just in the first year…

So, I thought as part of this month-long look at love you might like to see our list of favorites.

 45 of our favorite things learned in 40+ years of marriage. What works. What doesn't. And how to have fun in the adventure.

45 Things We’ve Learned in
40+ Years of Marriage

  1. Say “I love you” every day and mean it.
  2. Don’t think your spouse can read your mind.
  3. Don’t think you can read your spouse’s mind.
  4. Listen carefully before you speak.
  5. Choose to be kind especially when you don’t agree.
  6. The tone of your voice matters.
  7. Say “please and thank you” always.
  8. If you like something, say so. If you don’t . . . pause if possible.
  9. Flirt a little every day. It’s fun!
  10. Be prepared – people and circumstances will challenge your relationship.
  11. Set safe boundaries to protect your relationship.
  12. Pray for each other often. 
  13. Pray with each other often.
  14. When you can’t agree . . . give it to God and let it rest for a while.
  15. Forgive quickly.
  16. Apologize quickly.
  17. Be prepared – your children will try to divide and conquer.
  18. Always stand united in front of your children.
  19. Learn your spouse’s love language and use it.
  20. Don’t find fault with your spouse’s efforts to help.
  21. Never start or end the day with complaining or nagging. Better yet, don’t complain or nag.
  22. Be a team and want what’s best for the team. Work together.
  23. Be patient with your spouse’s quirks and faults. You want them to be patient with yours.
  24. Remember – neither of you is perfect.
  25. Read 1 Corinthians 13 often and apply it.
  26. Be intentional about spending time together.
  27. Keep the romance alive and active. Little things go a long way.
  28. Talk, listen and work together . . . especially on things like money, sex, extended family, etc.
  29. Use your words – Communicate your feelings and give your spouse freedom to do the same.
  30. Never complain about your spouse to others. NEVER!
  31. Believe in your spouse’s ability to succeed with God’s help.
  32. Choose your battles cautiously – ask yourself, “is this really important.”
  33. Give each other space to pursue personal interests.
  34. Be willing to try things that interest your spouse . . . like sports, hobbies, etc.
  35. It’s okay to agree to disagree sometimes.
  36. Give each other “me” time to refresh and reset.
  37. Never stop doing the thoughtful “little things” you did before you were married.
  38. Don’t compare your marriage to anyone else’s.
  39. Remember the good days and let go of the bad ones.
  40. Remember trust is easy to lose and extremely difficult to get back.
  41. Never take your spouse for granted.
  42. Laugh loud and often.
  43. Be best friends.
  44. Celebrate the little things.
  45. Give 100% every day.

Finally, a few of our favorite quotes on marriage…

“God created marriage. No government subcommittee envisioned it. No social organization developed it. Marriage was conceived and born in the mind of God.”  ~Max Lucado

“There is no more lovely, friendly or charming relationship, communion or company, that a good marriage.”  ~Martin Luther

“In sharp contrast with our culture, the Bible teaches that the essence of marriage is a sacrificial commitment to the good of the other. That means that love is more fundamentally action than emotion.” ~Timothy Keller

Make it your goal to create a marriage that feels like the safest place on earth. ~Gary Smalley

True love is friendship set on fire. ~Unknown

Did we miss anything? What’s your favorite marriage tip?

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  1. Happy anniversary! I love your list. All so very important in marriage.

    Thanks for linking with Woman to Woman’s Word Filled Wednesday.

  2. Thanks, Jenifer! We’ve been blessed! And he still makes me laugh every day! God’s blessings to you!

  3. Lisa Smith says:

    Very good advice!

  4. Happy and Blessed Anniversary, Deb and Rev!
    I certainly cannot choose a favorite based on the tips you gave here – they are all so integral to a healthy, loving marriage. It was reassuring to me to note that Danny and I practice most of these on a daily basis. So, so important to always validate one another with love!
    Blessings, Deb!

    1. Blessings to you and Danny! Sounds like you both work hard to make your marriage healthy, strong, and loving. Blessings to you Martha!

  5. These are absolutely beautiful! After only three years of marriage, I love receiving advice from more experienced couples. Thank you so much for sharing the things you’ve learned!

    1. Oh, thank you, Kailei! I’m sure you’ve learned a lot in the first three years. Those years of getting used to living with each other teach us volumes. Many blessings to you for many many more years together happy and strong!

  6. Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing your hard-earned wisdom!

    1. You’re welcome, Liz. Thanks for stopping by and saying hello! God bless you!

  7. Love this list! Congratulations Deb! Laughing at the “I’m not very hungry tonight” code. My husband has a “I’m eating this because you made it but please never make it again” face. 🙂

    1. I love it, Leigh! They quickly learn ways of letting us know their preferences without hurting our feelings. 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind encouragement! God bless you!

  8. What wise and insightful advice, Deb!
    Thank you for always offering a positive word to others!
    Sharing this today~

    1. Thanks so much, Melanie! Keeping our marriages strong is so very important. Blessings to you!

  9. Hey Deb!

    I love what you’ve shared here. I’ve been married for 22 years and I really want to know as much as I can so that my husband and I can really go the distance together – WELL!

    Points #19-21 really stuck out to me, but I love the whole list! Matter-of-fact, I’ll be sharing it over on my blogs FB page. I tend to blog a lot about marriage. Please stop by and visit when you can.


    1. Thank you for visiting, Tiffiney. I’m looking forward to visiting your site and FB page. 22 years . . . that’s awesome. Congratulations! And thank you for your kind encouragement. Blessings to you!

  10. Thanks for this list. It’s so easy to be in the daily grind and forget to really look at one another and cherish the gift that my husband is. I particularly liked the quote from Tim Keller: That means that love is more fundamentally action than emotion.

    1. I agree, Angela. We can get so caught up in the busyness of living we forget to stop and simply be thankful for each other. We learned that making the things on the list habits, not efforts made a huge difference. This is a wonderful time of the year to start again. Blessings to you!

  11. Happy engagement anniversary, Deb. What a blessing to still be so in love 45+ years later. I’m so grateful for beautiful friends like you who are willing to shed light on the path for me to follow. May God bless you, Rev and your family for many years to come; and may your love story continue to inspire many others.

    1. Thank you, Marva. I’m blessed. He is definitely a keeper! 🙂 Blessings to you as well, my friend.

  12. What a great list of things to do in marriage! Thanks for sharing your beautiful story too.
    Blessings this Valentine’s Day weekend,

    1. Thanks, Patii! God’s blessings to you as well my friend!

  13. Elizabeth says:

    What a lovely and loving list, Deb! My husband and I have been married 20 years (I picked him up at church one morning), and I hope we have at least 20 more to put all these tips into action! 😉

    1. I picked Rev up at a dorm devotion one night at our small Christian college. Of course, it was scheduled for guys and gals to meet, so it wasn’t quite as “holy” as it sounds. 🙂 Congrats on 20 years and God’s blessings for many many more.

  14. I love this list! #30 is the one thing that has really helped us. I have never told anything to anyone even my mother because she told me the day we got married, “You chose him along will all of his good points and bad points. What goes on in your home, stays in your home, it is not to be used as a gossip tool.” I hope you and your husband have many more years of happiness! Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

  15. I so love this, Deb! I scheduled a bunch out for tweets! Love seeing happy, lasting marriages!!

  16. Happy belated Anniversary to you and the Rev!


  17. Happy Anniversary Deb! I’m coming up on 20 years and can attest that all your tips are so true! Happy Valentine’s Day!

  18. Thank you so much for such gud advice,it includes everything, I don’t have any parent to tell me such words and am soon getting married,but I feel its everything that I needed to know.bless u

    1. Alice, Congratulations on your upcoming marriage! I’m so glad this blessed you! May you enjoy many years celebrating His love with each other. God’s blessings to you!!

  19. Christina says:

    Happy Anniversary! Congratulations on 45 years, rare and hard to find couples that have been together 20 year now a days. We have been married 22 years in less than 10 days and we have learned so many lessons over the years. The best is communication is the key to just about everything.

    1. Congratulations, Christina! May God bless you both with many more years of love, laughter, and great communication! God bless you!