10 Ways to Keep Saying Yes 20 Years Later

This month, Greg and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. Twenty. Add to that the years of friendship before we got married – I’ve known my best friend for 33 years.

Twenty years ago, if you would have told me that we would have four kids, moved 10 times, experienced several job changes, currently living in the the suburbs of Chicago, I would have stared at you in disbelief.

Looking back on our 20-year adventure, I couldn’t have crafted a better story.

No one can claim to have the perfect marriage—we certainly don’t.

We can claim that we are striving to make our marriage better each year. Or perhaps a better way to say that is, better than yesterday.

10 ways we keep saying yes:

1. Strive for holiness not happiness.

We learned this early on in our marriage after reading Sacred Marriage – that marriage is intended to make us holy, not happy. I am becoming a better Caroline because Greg is my husband and vice versa.

We are not looking for a happily ever after marriage. We want to be able to say “Thank you” to each other at the “until death do us part” stage of our marriage.

teselle

2. Choose to love.

I make a choice each day to love my husband.

The “I Do’s” and “I Will’s” last longer than the week after the honeymoon. Because let’s face it, the honeymoon is a frenzy of YES, I CHOOSE YOU 24/7!

3. Date nights.

Date nights are just as important, if not more important than when we were dating.

The frequency of our date nights has changed with our seasons of life while raising kids or job situations, but it is always the first thing on the calendar because we want our kids to realize how important it is to the health of our marriage and our family.

Lately, our dates consist of a quiet dinner at our favorite restaurant where the staff greets us by name. They know we like malt vinegar with our fries and that Greg loves to have a warm snickerdoodle cookie for dessert.

Once a month during our date, we ask each other these questions:

  • How are we doing financially?
  • How are we doing spiritually?
  • How are we doing physically?

Keep saying yes

4. Pray together.

Every night, before we go to sleep, we pray.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff, embrace it.

That’s a phrase that’s tossed around a bit. In any relationship, especially in a marriage, it’s really important to let it go because it’s the small stuff that can become increasingly annoying if we let it.

My husband has some quirks. How sometimes he wears a bandana around his leg; how he folds his socks instead of rolling them; his preference of drinking Mountain Dew out of a can instead of a bottle.

And what about all my quirks? How the dishwasher has to be loaded a certain way; the sheet on my side of the bed has to be tucked in; how I’m constantly twirling my hair…

The point is, I could go on and on about the annoying small stuff. Embrace it and laugh about it because the alternative leads to frustrating conversations.

Keep saying yes

6. Encourage their dreams.

Every dreamer needs a dream cheerleader. Be that for your spouse.

7. Build a dream together.

At the beginning of every year, we talk about goals. Goals for our marriage, our family, our future. The goals are written in pencil because we know at any time, life happens.

The roof leaks. The doctor calls. A family member needs help.

The dream gets put back on the shelf, for now. But keep talking about it. Maybe the shape of it will change over time, but don’t stop dreaming.

8. It takes a tribe.

There’s a reason you have people stand beside you when you get married and in the audience as you say your “I Do’s”- we need people.

Marriage is hard.

It’s the reason when my husband agrees to officiate a wedding, he asks the couple to write him a check for $1,000 with the understanding that they will get their money back if they have met with him at least six times for counseling their first year of marriage.

As the years add on the wrinkles and gray hair, find your tribe that will listen, encourage, and stand beside you.

Can I meddle a little?

Do not encourage a member of your tribe to listen to your woes about your spouse. Talk about your woes with your spouse first, share as a couple with another couple next, and then if the woe is still great, talk to your pastor or counselor.

Keep saying yes

9. What happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom.

Communicating with your spouse about sex is encouraged and it’s a vital part of a healthy marriage. Communicating with your friends about what happens or doesn’t happen is not.

10. Disagreements are inevitable.

We are two selfish people living in a small house with four selfish offspring. Disagreements and disappointments happen every day around here.

The solution: make it a choice, each day (and some days, every hour) to consider others more important.

You can say no to constant busyness.

To lead your family with peace, you need to know your NOs and YESes. But what are they?

Like Your Life can help you figure them out.

19 Comments

  1. Rosemary

    Your husbands $1000 idea is an excellent one. Thoroughly enjoyed this post, and it has caused me to think some things over. Any ideas on date nights with babies (3 1/2, 2 and 6 months)??

    • caroline

      Thank you Rosemary! About date nights – when our kids were that small we would hire a sitter one or two times a month for the older ones and bring the baby with us to dinner. Or set aside one night a week after the kids go to bed to have a late dinner together.

  2. Tsh Oxenreider

    Rosemary, our dates then mostly looked like putting the kids to bed a little earlier, then having a more special dinner. We’d try to make it a little more special (eat outside, order in, etc.), and maybe play a game after dinner. We actually look back on those days with fondness, because now we have kiddos that stay up later, and when they go to bed, we’re pretty much ready to go to bed, too! 🙂

  3. Sarah M

    Mt Dew in a can is seriously the best (only) way to drink it. 🙂 But seriously, Happy 20th! There are some great tips here.

    • Greg

      Sarah M – I completely agree!

  4. Sarah M

    Mt Dew in a can is seriously the best (only) way to drink it. 🙂 But seriously, Happy 20th! There are some great tips here.

  5. Jessica Owens

    Love this article! Thank you for posting. I am coming up on my 8th anniversary with my husband and choosing to love him through all the disagreements is what has gotten us this far. It is easy to forget all the good in a moment of anger, but it is all still there once we calm down.

  6. Kristy Lambrakis

    Caroline, Happy “20” years. Thanks for sharing such beautiful advice. I think date night is a real important thing for a marriage and most of all to show your kids how important a relationship is!!

  7. Kanae

    Thank you for the post. I can’t tell you how much I really needed this.

  8. Linda Sand

    Having recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary I can confidently say #2 is critical. Even when we don’t always like each other’s life choices we still choose to love. Remembering that you love one another, thus will support one another, will get you through anything. Even living through another Minnesota winter when we could be spending it in Arizona because he needs to be where his tribe is.

  9. noreen

    It’s real and get back to basics in this article, so needed to read this.
    I like the idea of dreaming together, because it includes “us” on the journey
    through life no matter what seasons come and go. Being intentional about of relationship each and everyday!

  10. Lindsey Brackett

    I love this. It’s what I keep telling people. Love is a verb–which means it’s a choice to act, not an emotion you rely on always being there.

  11. Maryann

    When my husband and I are mad at each other and not speaking neither is willing to be the first to break the ice. So after a day or so, I often say “I still love you, you know” and he then says “I love you too” and that opens the door for conversation.

  12. Veronica

    Amazing article. I really needed this. Thank you so much!

  13. Andrea

    Thank-you for sharing! It’s so encouraging to see married couples who are doing the hard work, and being an example in a world where so many marriages are crumbling. I love that you and your husband ask those 3 questions of each other every month. After 10 years of marriage I am only beginning to learn ways to be purposeful in communication, instead of letting things fester. With two young children, our date nights usually look like Indian take-out and the most recent episode of Nashville. But I still look forward to it! 🙂

  14. Daikuro @ SimplicityBlogger.com

    Love is really more than enough to help you stay together. If you remember the love that you once felt, you’ll do the right thing and keep the two of you together.

  15. Tracey

    Wise, wise words, my friend. Thank you!

  16. Valerie Murray

    I wrote a similar post last year on my 20th anniversary. This year we celebrate 21 years. I always love reading marriage tips. I love the title of your post because it’s so true that we have to keep saying yes and fight to keep our marriage strong.
    Happy Anniversary!

  17. Kristen

    well written, factual article….congratulations and thanks for the inspiration!

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