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Asha Dornfest is the founder and editor of Parent Hacks, a blog that shares "forehead-smackingly smart parenting tips." She's also the coauthor of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less, with Christine Koh. Asha lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two kids.

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Five lessons learned from 18 years of marriage

By Asha Dornfest |

Ball and chain

Ironic metaphor for marriage

My husband, Rael, and I have just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. I’m pretty sentimental about a lot of things, but anniversaries aren’t one of them. Ours are usually simple occasions: maybe a card and a nice dinner out and a few jokes about buying matching walkers.

Somehow, this year felt different.

This year, I felt like we had scaled something…like we had survived something…like we had accomplished something. This year wasn’t just another 365 days gone by and “isn’t that nice,” it was a year to be grateful. A year to be proud.

This was the year my son regained his confidence and his smile. The year we lived the grand experiment of home schooling. The year my daughter grew strong. The year we “cleaned house” in many more ways than one.

So, in honor of our 18th year, I humbly offer five things I’ve learned so far about marriage.

1. A strong marriage is built of tiny actions.

“It’s the little things.” Such a cliche! Such bad sentence construction! And such truth.

Each time you discuss instead of demand, you strengthen your marriage. Same goes for speaking with respect instead of sarcasm, and listening instead of dismissing, and engaging instead of eye-rolling.

Each action is like a brick. You choose whether to use it to build a foundation or a wall.

2. But don’t forget the grand gesture.

Buying flowers or surprising your spouse with a vacation, an iPad, or a day off from dishwashing won’t make your marriage. But it will cause your partner to snap out of the day-to-day routine and take notice. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get the ball rolling in a very pleasant direction.

3. Never underestimate the importance of a good laugh.

Sometimes life as a grownup can be hard, boring, and downright drudgery. Another cliche fits here: “If I didn’t laugh, I’d probably cry.” So laugh. A lot.

What do you both find funny? Comedies? Jon Stewart? Silly t-shirts? Private jokes? Sneezing pandas? Write a “funny” list, then commit yourself to experiencing at least one of these things together every day. You’ll thank me.

4. All good marriages have a supporting cast.

There’s an odd fallacy about marriage (middle-class, American marriage, perhaps) that it should somehow stand on its own. If two people love each other, have shared values, a little chemistry, a decent job, maybe a kid or two…that they should be able to figure it out. That a good marriage can withstand life’s slings and arrows, if not unscathed, then at least intact.

Guess what? Life’s a lot bigger than two people. Sooner or later, a sneaker wave will knock you down, and you’ll need a hand to find your balance again. Perhaps it will be something small, like a messy house or a bad habit. Or something big: job loss, a health crisis. It may be something good: starting a new business, or winning the lottery. Or something bad: a death in the family, or an affair.

Whatever it is, there are people who can help.

Everyone’s supporting cast looks different. Some include a housecleaner or a babysitter. Others include a marriage counselor or a psychiatrist. Some need a financial advisor. Some just need their extended family or their friends. But everyone needs someone.

5. Treat your spouse as you hope your children will treat theirs.

Little eyes are watching. Little ears are listening. And little minds and hearts are learning about partnership and marriage from your example.

I say this not to promote guilt, paranoia or dishonesty. The worst thing we could do is to project a facade of shiny perfection to our kids. They’re smarter than that, and such playacting hurts and confuses them.

But it’s worth remembering that kids really do follow our lead, and we owe it to them to be mindful about what we’re teaching. And we owe it to ourselves to dig deep for the good stuff. We’re worth it.

I’d love to hear your pithy marriage wisdom. What have you learned so far?

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About Asha Dornfest

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Asha Dornfest

Asha Dornfest is the founder and editor of Parent Hacks, a blog that shares "forehead-smackingly smart parenting tips." She's also the coauthor of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less, with Christine Koh. Asha lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two kids. Read bio and latest posts → Read Asha's latest posts →

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69 thoughts on “Five lessons learned from 18 years of marriage

  1. Doug French says:

    The more I’ve learned, the less I know.

    1. Asha Dornfest says:

      Doug: Ooooh, yes. I say this about parenting all the time. But perhaps that’s what makes us wise, in some tao de ching way? I like to hope so.

  2. Amanda says:

    I might tweak five to read: or as you hope their spouses will treat them. Watching us is how they learn to love and be loved.

    My greatest pearl, swallow the impulse to deliver the zinger that really hurts. Its pleasure is as fleeting as the second helping of dessert you didn’t have room for the begin with.

    Congratulations on 18 years of foundation building.

  3. Ami says:

    Always try to assume the best of your spouse, even when he/she might not “deserve” it. You’ll avoid pointless arguments. If you’re right, you’ll save yourself from feeling ashamed; if you’re wrong, you still come out looking like the good guy, and eventually, that person you love and chose to exchange vows with will want to live up to your image of him/her.

  4. James says:

    One of the keys to a long marriage is marrying a person that is a good fit to be married to for a longtime in the first place.

    My parents were married for 4 years. And the reasons that my mom ended up leaving my dad were the same reasons that she almost called off the wedding to begin with.

  5. Betsy says:

    Talk. Ask. And although you should assume the best of your spouse as the previous poster wrote. Don’t assume he knows what you are thinking and brooding about. A slightly more risky cliche – When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME. You are getting angry at him for not being a mind reader. And if he asks what’s wrong, never say ‘nothing’ when there is something. It just isn’t fair.

  6. Jessica says:

    The hard is what makes it good.

    That is a mantra we have used our entire time together. Everything we have been through that is difficult has made our marriage stronger because we have earned the peace on the other side of it and have grown together through all of it.

    I always choose my battles, which is a cliche piece of advice you hear often too. But more importantly, I choose not to battle, but to discuss like previously stated here because it always seems to me the only point to fighting would be to win so that the other person can lose. I don’t want to be the person that makes my husband, the most cherished human in my life a loser. That’s not my job as his wife or his as my husband. It’s our job to lift each other up.

    Also, unfulfilled expectations are marriage killers. Not just sex, money and kids. Anything. It can be anything. So share your expectations with one another and share them every time they change and why.

  7. Ellen Seidman says:

    Hi, Asha! This is so well said, and so true. I am guilty of not always keeping up with the small gestures, so thank you for the reminder. One thing that has always stuck in my mind is what you get at in the last point—respect. While I was still single, I went on a trip to Turkey with a friend, and we were on a bus tour for a few days with a couple who’d been married for decades. We got into a discussion about marriage, and the woman told me that the most important aspect of a marriage is mutual respect for each other. I never forgot that wisdom.

    Glad to be blogging here on Voices with you!

  8. Mako Hosokawa says:

    Isn’t that up and down of marriage make us a strong relationship, whether it was about kids, money, or the relationship, sticking to each other would make the real relationship not like a boyfriend, girlfriend and break ups. I don’t like to think the marriage to be no way out,but I think, we should always , always try hard to solve the problem after all, we made a commitment to each other! Like I said, Marriage is hard so we all need to find a right person to be, take your time and go for it! Because it is nice to wake up with someone every day!

  9. asha — this was so thoughtful and well written. my wife and i celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary this Fri, we married later in life. i was “that guy” who was bouncing around from one dysfunctional 6-month relationship to the next and she was a beautiful single mom, trying to pick up the pieces of her broken life with a toddler in tow when we re-met (we had known each other since 5th grade, but i’d been gone from quite a while and hadn’t seen her in over a decade). fast fwd 18 months and we got married. 13 months later, we welcomed triplets to the world. the first coupla years of their lives were total chaos. and just when it started to get easier, we found out we were expecting again. (surprise!) our last child, Grand Finale Osborne, is 5 weeks old. so to say we’ve crammed a lot in our first five years is an understatement. it seems as if our marriage / parenting deal is an extreme one. and, like most things that are extreme, it’s been very hard from time to time. thankfully, we’ve got an incredible network of family and friends and we’re both completely committed to one another. plus, we gotta deal. whoever leaves gets the kids. but seriously, i can’t wait til she reads your beautiful post. all your points are good ones. look fwd to reading more from you.

    1. Asha Dornfest says:

      Thank you for the comment, John. Yours sounds like quite a love story…amazing.

  10. lauren shay says:

    Thanks so much for the great and insightful post. all so true. A few others:

    - Take one great and adventurous trip together each year (whether it’s camping, road tripping, journeying through Europe by train). Travel has a way of reopening the mind and spirit.

    - Cook together and one great meal every so often for each other

    - Engage in a shared passion

    - Forgive. And don’t use your spouse as a revolving complaint door.

    1. Asha Dornfest says:

      Lauren: Travel! There’s nothing like building new experiences outside the context of day-to-day life.

  11. Karima says:

    To Amandas,
    Thanks for your pearl-about zingers. You resale got mer there and I will stop, take pause, and remember your comparison to extra dessert.
    Here’s to slimming down!

  12. Kim says:

    My husband and I have been married for over 6 years and it gets better each year. One thing we’ve done that when we have “discussions” we NEVER (or try really, really hard not to) attack our partner, only the situation. These are the times that you need to be conscience that the words you use – you will never be able to take back.

    Also – I fully agree with the part about laughter – a necessity. It can the be the little things between you two, ways that you make the other smile or laugh.

    The other thing is touch – a touch on the hand, shoulder, or any other part of the body can strengthen your relationship and keep that bond alive and going.

    Thank you for sharing!

  13. Korinthia Klein says:

    Lovely post.
    /
    The only thing I might add is a quote I heard somewhere a long time ago that stuck with me, which is, “If you have a choice in public between making yourself look good, or making your spouse look good, choose your spouse.” I like that, because there are many opportunities for passive-aggressive airing of grievances in public settings, and undermining your spouse in someone else’s eyes is never a good idea.

  14. Tom says:

    After nearly 40 years of marriage and many, many trials and tribulations mixed in with endless joy I think you hit many of the cogent points in your piece, but especially in these times I feel that the most important aspect of living a life together is that you get to know the person you are marrying BEFORE you marry. Know what their goals and ambitions are, how they feel about certain things and let them know your goals and ambitions, as well as how you feel on certain subjects. It is this foundation that is so important, because without it how can one hope to build a sturdy relationship, and especially in these times, sturdy is a requirement!

  15. RookieMom Heather says:

    Asha, I love it. As we are on the precipice for welcoming a third son into our family, I am very aware of how much I appreciate my husband. The big question is whether or not he knows. Hopefully that iPad helped. ;-)

  16. Magda Pecsenye says:

    I think the key to a good marriage is marrying the right person.

  17. samantha says:

    this is good, and very true, esp the first part about tiny actions. i’ve been married since age 20 for 21 years! half of my life! =)

  18. Meagan Francis says:

    Oh, what a great post! My three biggest rules: Forgive, forgive, forgive. Oh, and three more: apologize, apologize, apologize (even when you think the other person is a little more wrong.)

  19. [...] I came across this article today via Parent Hacks and it inspired this post. I fully agree with the authors wisdom here. This [...]

  20. Tatum says:

    Great post! Thanks for the wisdom. Sounds simple, but can be so hard to do!

  21. Asha Dornfest says:

    Oh yes, Tatum. Very hard to do consistently. Lest everything sounds too pat and “I’ve got it all figured out,” I revisit these lessons all the time. Life is full of distraction and tension. It takes conscious effort to do this stuff…and plenty of humilty.

  22. Susie says:

    When you don’t get your way, remember to look at your spouse. Remember the other person in the marriage.

  23. Angela says:

    We’re approaching our 17th year and probably the most important thing we do is not expect each other to be mind readers. Yes, sometimes we are right there on the same wavelength and finishing each other’s sentences. But expecting your partner to be able to read your mind, and being upset when they don’t, well you’re just setting both of you up for disappointment. So we’re honest about what we need, expect and feel. It IS a small thing, but it really doesn’t seem to be very common.

  24. Joe says:

    Someone once shared with me the observation that each partner in a successful relationship thinks they are getting the better deal (a sentiment that may lie behind the colloquial use of “my better half” when some partners refer to each other).

  25. noir says:

    great wisdom, this!

    thoughts on this through an everyday dad’s eyes
    http://noirdaily1.blogspot.com/2010/11/what-i-have-learned-dad-perspective.html

  26. Amanda says:

    Quite an eye opener . Don’t realise how we take your husband or wife for granted. We tend to forget the small gestures that attracted us to each other.

  27. [...] 5 Lessons Learned from 18 Years of Marriage at The Accidental Expert on Babble [...]

  28. CM says:

    I love all the advice offered above. (And John Cave’s comment — they’re in it for the long haul, because whoever leaves has to take all four kids with them!)

    My addition is that keeping anger bottled up inside is underrated. When I’m angry with my spouse about something, it’s usually more about me than about him. After a while I calm down enough to let the anger go, and then I can discuss whatever was bothering me in a constructive way. Or, more often, I never bring it up because I realize I was being unfair or just grumpy.

  29. Doug French says:

    See, this is what I get for getting married before I started blogging. If I knew then what I know now …

  30. Michelle says:

    Understand that the love that you and your spouse share is unique and so is the way that you communicate it. Show your love every day in the way that you both acknowledge and understand.

    Marriage is about committing to life with a person you could grow with. Understand that your spouse is not the same person that you married X days/months/years ago; acknowledge you are not as well.

  31. Noir says:

    how apt that i stumble upon this article. today’s my 22nd wedding anniversary.
    very good read this. finding the right person as life partner is a bonus. not to say the ‘not so right’ ones can’t work. sincerity, tolerance and always be proactive will almost definitely work for any marriage. i especially love point no. 5 :)

  32. Tina says:

    Marriage? A life sentence bestowed by unaware, innocent people when they sat the simple words “I DO” upon themselves. What a hoax!

  33. Asha Dornfest says:

    Sigh. I just couldn’t let Tina have the last word on this post.

  34. [...] Abuse My husband, Rael, and I have just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. I’m pretty sentimental about a lot of things, but anniversaries aren’t one of them. Ours are [...]

  35. Dave says:

    Marriage seldom lasts,because women change their minds so quicklly.Influened by family,friends and the media.Too bad so few women can think for themselves.If they could marriages would last forever.

  36. Celahve says:

    Everytime my hubby & I see one another, I act as if it’s been forever! I give him a big “HELLO, i missed you today” with a big hug and a kiss. Makes him feel super special. I also remind myself everyday to make a little effort to do one small thing for him, send him a sexy text, bring him home a sweet treat (snickers from the gas station), etc… he loves it!!

  37. ls says:

    After 24yrs of marriage I have found that my wife is my best friend. Having the same goals in life. I have a firm belief in this next one. Having the same religious beliefs are a foundaton to build a solid marriage. Talking with her about feelings
    and listening. To keep things fun take a short trip or have a “date” night. This next one is work in progress but never go to sleep being mad at each other. For give
    each other faults and find ways to help each other over come them. Has it been easy no, but it has been worth it. One last thing above all else let her/him know that you love them. Flowers are nice but hearing you say I love you is what helps me.small acts show how you care for them.

  38. TLC says:

    I really can go both ways because I love my guy very much, we have been together 7 years married and divorced, still together. And no one can make us stay together or separate. I feel that we are still together because of our own personal choice. Whether we are getting along or not. But I feel like counseling cannot save a marriage. A man and a woman have to know that when they look into eachothers eyes that they don’t see themselves doing anything ever again without that person by there side. NOW THAT IS LOVE!!!!And if there is ever any doubt in either of their minds that they feel cannot be reassured through eachother, then they shouldn’t be together

  39. Cindy says:

    We’ve been married 34 years. We were high school sweethearts, married at 20, had our first child 17 mos after we married, and went on to have 7 more. The best marriage advise I received was that love is not a feeling,, it is a choice. GREAT ADVISE ! The things that I have learned are simple, always say please and thank-you,and mean it. Listen, that’s why you have two ears and one mouth. Don’t compare your marriage to anyone elses, because you really don’t know what goes on. Treasure and safeguard what you have. Smile at your spouse. Grow together and change with the seasons of life. Finally build a marriage that leaves a legacy. Congratulations Asha on the first 18 may the next 18 be even better!

  40. Lee Regine says:

    We just married only five month,and i find that want to build up a marriage is not easy than saying as we have different comment and way of thinking.everytimes when we have problem,i the one to point up to him by email as he wouldn’t listen to me.but he never point up the problem even he kown that’s.that’s a long way to learn it,and after reading all the comment at least make me much happy as i known how to build up a marriage.Thanks

  41. livingthedreamonenightmareatatime says:

    I have been married for 16 years and together with my husband for 21 years. We have had five children and I would say our biggest challenges have been finding time alone together. We have endured the lost of a child as well as 3 miscarriages and an affair and are redefinin our marriage each day. Having a connection (one that is alive) I believe is so underestimated. When you lose that it all starts to unravel one thread at a time. Feeling loved and needed has to be priority to all else. And yes the children are far from stupid no matter how hard to you try to hide dysfunction they are so aware of it and you will see their moods and behavior change as yours does. Be the example you want them to seek for the love you feel they deserve in their adult lives. Forgiveness for mistakes is so important but you can’t just give it away it must be earned for it to be real. I always ask myself the question ” If I made that mistake would I want to be forgiven for it?” before I decide to forgive the mistake. Communication is soo important I have never been able to read his mind and accepting that he can’t read mine has been a real eye-opener! Protect your commitment and guard it with all you have inside. Too many homewrecker’s out there willing to step in and take all you have worked for! Looking forward to the next twenty with my funny and sexy husband!

  42. royalty says:

    My husband and I have been married for 5yrs. And when I look back over our lives together, I know it was only by the Grace of God that we are still together. We have grown to be a very strong and loving couple. I started out sarcastic, demanding, and quite spoiled and stubborn. He started out charming, cunning, conceited and quite a ladies’ a man. I’ve managed to get through the heartbreak of him stepping out (which by thr way was not easy)! But We can’t help who we love and who we fall in love with. We’ve managed to get past all of the stumps and hurdles by loving on eachother even when we’re angry! Laughing @ ourselves bcuz we sound so crazy fussing. We want our kids to grow up knowing that their parents deeply loved one another and no1 could do anything about it! 5yrs down and an ETERNITY TO GO!

  43. Tonya says:

    Stand up for each other in the public eye, even if you don’t necessarily agree or think they’re right. NEVER undermine your significant other. If you don’t have someone who “has your back” ALL THE TIME, it’s hard to trust. Then, in private you can discuss what you don’t agree with! LOL

  44. Scott Huard says:

    Take about 2 years to get to know each other. How you date and relate is how you’re going to be as a married couple. Boring, dull, unhappy, complaining, bitter, resentful people rarely change…watch out for subtle bullying. If the person you’re with does not want to grow and learn and change…WATCH OUT!! If you feel even SLIGHTLY uncomfortable with this person…DON’T. I was married two years and she NEVER even brought me a cup of water when I was working on HER house..fixing things and making it look beautiful. My neighbor did, sandwiches too. It was a forced marriage for me….I envisioned running away when she was walking down the aisle…should have done so….

  45. Julie Wilson says:

    My husband and I are about to celebrate our 15th anniversary.
    There are three key factors we believe in and want to share with you.
    1. When we said our vows we took them literally. For us there is no such word as divorce. We have problems we work on them. Sometimes I yell at him sometimes he yells at me. Both are a rare occurrence. We talk. We may not like what the other has to say but we listen. We discuss how to fix whatever is wrong. I was not working and it was aggravating my husband, he was holding it in for a while and finally yelled at me about getting a job. Then we sat down and talked about it. He had not realized I was out job hunting while he was at work, I was ashamed to let him know I was not being hired and so wasn’t telling him I was out job hunting. when we talked it out he understood and I no longer felt as ashamed.
    2. Never ever ever utter words such as “I hate you”. You can’t take them back. You can apologize but they are still in the other person’s memory and they will always wonder if that’s how your really feeling. In our house hate, stupid, shut up, and retard are considered curse words and are not allowed, ever. Its absolutely amazing what doesn’t come out of your mouth if you have to stop and think of some other word to replace the one you want to use.
    3. Daydream. I know its crazy, but when we are riding in the car or just sitting quietly in the house we do this: If we won the lottery (which we never play) what would we do? and we tell each other what we would want to do, and the funny thing is its not the same things even though we play the game over and over, about every four or five months. We daydream about building a house how we would build it etc, we daydream about opening our own businesses and what we would do. We all daydreamed as kids, why did we stop when we became adults?

  46. Marci says:

    I really don’t have advise, at least I don’t think so. #5,” the children are watching” this I learned too late. I’m 49 years old, been marriage a hard tough 28 years. My oldest daughter is now 25 and followed my bad habit in our marriage. She was engaged to someone that I saw from the beginning that didn’t treat her right. He had the gift to under mind her independence, her opinion, her self worth. Something I aloud my own husband to do in our early marriage. Unfortunately it took her relationship to see my own. Unlike my family I kept quite and hoped her eyes would open and see, they finally did. My own family gave their opinion and I choose to stay and try to prove them wrong. But as you said – the kids eyes see and ears hear. A lesson I learned too late. I have younger children now and I won’t make the same error, I am now a single mother and I hope they grow into fabulous young people. Maybe that was advise – a life lesson.

  47. Aida Zeff says:

    Three months ago I ended an abusive marriage of 15 years. And yet I still believe in love and the chance that there is happiness for everyone. All the bullet points you identified as absolutely essential. Laughter, the little things, being each other’s cheerleader, the drudgery, the grand gestures, the CHOICE to stay, the support system of family and friends, and the example you set for your children. The latter is why I left. I realized that I never wanted my sons to learn that behavior or be a victim. They deserved to see a real loving relationship and marriage. I commend all of you in marriages that you work at daily and cherish with your actions and words. Bravo! And keep up the good work. You inspire those of us still seeking…..

  48. Karl says:

    I’ve been married for 20 years. I believe that for a good marriage to survive requires a lot of growth between the two of us. When we first were married, we had rough edges that through the years have been made smoother. Kids require even more growth to take place–and more smoothing. I’m glad I’m not the same person I was 20 years ago. I’m much more patient. more kind and understanding, and many other good traits have been forthcoming–when done right, that is the miracle of marriage-to make people better.

  49. Jake says:

    I’ve been married for 28 years. The secret to that longevity is the severe depression I developed from my wife’s control and emotional abusive. I really need to divorce her but I just don’t care about myself anymore. I am so unhappy.

  50. Regina says:

    Asha, I thought your article was lovely. I was homed schooled and plan to home school so that little note spoke well to me. But the bit I considered the best of this great post was number five. I am shocked how little that point is referenced and it’s so, so important. Thank you. Good work. Best wishes for the next 18 years!

  51. Margaret Begay says:

    I wish to share that my husband and I celebrated our 33rd anniversary. We have so much fond memories. Life is not easy but thanks to our children & grandchildren we stand as one. Everyday and its dinner time we share a hot meal with the whole family, its thanking them for being a part of our life. The miracle of a marriage is making the Good Lord a part of your marriage, praying, standing by each other and loving one another.

  52. Samantha says:

    Hello,

    That was a great article… I DO agree :-)

    I have been Married and Divorced twice…. Single now.

    What I have learned……

    Always be HONEST – no matter what the reason. The Lie will always be found out and bad feelings will be felt. He gambled losing alot of Money & lied to me all the time about “little things” so I know there must have been LARGE things as well….

    Always TALK – it is the only way things will change. Get it out in the “Open” be clear and straight to the point, no song and dance just the truth of the matter. You will both be happier in the end, and hopefully resolve the issue.

    Always RESPECT each other – never forget that you are TWO people. You may have married this person and you may feel as “one” , but always remember you are TWO people who choose to be together, a team effort. Listen and learn from each other. Always say “Thank You” you are there for HIM and He is there for YOU too.

    Always REMEMBER – yesterday. The “little” sweet moments in Time together. These are the moments that will keep you together, keep you Laughing & Feeling for each other as the years go by…toast them with a glass a Red Wine, smiling into his eyes, for no other reason than to say YOU remember ..and if he smiles too..that’s special indeed :-)

  53. cynthia says:

    i didn’t like” pithy comment” so i won’t comment-pithy means hollow so you are not taking others seriously–bye-you’ve missed my words of wisdom

  54. Kristen says:

    I am twenty years old, and I have always been a person to want to do things the right way for the best results. I have no husband, yet, but I want to testify and give you parents hope for your children. I have made a few mistakes with guys, but not major ones. I stopped dating when I was fifteen. I guess I just wised up to what I really wanted. I really want to wait for THE guy and no one else. I really want us to be BEST friends and to dream together and do things together and for eachother. I want us to face those hard times with the mentality that it will make us stronger and that we will never depart from eachother. So many more things to add to that, but I know what I really want, and until that comes, I am totally content in bettering myself for him while I am waiting. I am going to be a present for him and I want to be an exciting present, pure and bold and childlike(not childish) and faithful and trustworthy and healthy and extreme and in the process of living out my dreams… staying true to who I am. That mentality is what has kept me out of trouble and partying and things I don’t think are the best. That mentality has come from God and God alone. He chose me to live that kind of life. I can do nothing apart from Him. He is my secret to strength in the waiting process. He is my husband. My parents also trusted me and weren’t always looking over my shoulder. They knew when to do that and when to let me be free to make my choice. That helped me make the right choices. Our family’s foundation is on God, so that is Who I give the credit to:)

  55. Desperate for info says:

    I am looking for some advice. I quit talking to friends because someone always ends up talking and it makes my husband very mad so I am looking for outside advice. I have been married 19 years. In our first year of marriage I finally saw what a temper he had. It escalated over the years and to add more of a strain we started having financial problems due to his bad financial decisions for his business and he wanted to file bankrupt. We had some IRA’s, & CD’s and closed them to pay off some debts. We still owe so much that bankruptcy looks like the only way out for Richard. I told him I disagree. His temper had gotten a lot better and I can live with that. Richard comes home angry everday of his life. The kids told me that when he is with them he is happy but as soon as he sees me, anger kicks in. Needless to say we have grown apart over the years. Richard told me that he is only with me because of the kids but didn’t want a divorce because he was afraid he wouldn’t get to see them very much. He also told me that he loved me but wasn’t in love with me anymore. I withdrew from him a lot. I don’t want a divorce but I also don’t want to live with a man who doesn’t love me like he should. He said he can’t put anymore into our marriage because the feelings aren’t there, that this is the best it will ever be. Should we try separating and see what happens? I worry that if we separate he will find “pleasure” with another woman. That would kill me! Do we risk that or should we stay together and “hope for the best”. Maybe I can make him fall in love with me again, but how?

  56. Asha Dornfest {Parent Hacks} says:

    WOW! I haven’t checked the comments on this post for a while, and there has been an explosion! I want to thank all of you for sharing your stories and words of wisdom.

    Desperate: I am in no position to advise you. But I do encourage you to find your “supporting cast,” in this case, a good marriage counselor. You would be amazed how having a third person in the room can, over time, help things get better. I wish you all the best.

  57. Chris says:

    I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.

  58. [...] for Tereza! I could not agree more. I believe every family needs a supporting cast, and a professional organizer is just such an example. Getting organized is not difficult but it [...]

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  61. sue says:

    February 14 we where married 21 years been together 25 and we both ask each other where the time went, marriage is hard but talking and share all feelings, good and bad, and listen when the other is sharing is our key to keeping our marriage stronge, we just want settle for any thing less, plus we’re a empty nest home, kids gone so we do enjoy our selves all the time even when we’re doing different things in different places in the house, he’s the love of my live and he makes me feel like I’m his.

  62. Rich says:

    Say “please” and “thank you”…and mean it.

  63. D says:

    Taking time to talk is important. I’ve been with my husband for 30 years this year and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, something new comes along. But, we’re the strongest relationship I know of and we are doing great. He is my best friend along with so many other things and he loves me in spite of myself. There isn’t much we haven’t been through in our relationship, but, through it all we still laugh alot, talk alot and tell each other “I love you” many times every day.

  64. D says:

    Desparate for info needs to seek a good marriage counselor’s help. If your husband doesn’t go, then go alone and learn how to deal with this.

  65. Nan says:

    My husband and I have been married 22 years this summer. Marriage is definitely not easy and it takes a lot of work. Laughter, for us, has been a big part of our marriage. I can definitely say that we would be friends if we weren’t married. Marrying someone you love is important, but liking them as a person is huge. Best of luck to all.

  66. Val says:

    18 years is great but I’d really like to hear from someone who has been married 50 years or more. For example, we have a couple we know who is celebrating their 60th anniversary this coming weekend. Hearing from a couple who has actually spent an entire lifetime together would have great insight into what it takes to make this marriage thing work.

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