I'm sitting on a plane with my wife about to celebrate 10 years of marriage. 

Surreal.

On one hand, I'm amazed at how fast the time has passed. I still FEEL 25 years old, wonder who the old guy in the mirror is and why these short people call me dad.

On the other hand, I'm amazed that we've lasted 10 years! Those first couple years were ROUGH. I was selfish, narcissistic, distracted, cold, cocky, and demeaning...you know, all the ingredients for a successful marriage.

Over the years, by being married to one of the kindest people on the planet along with having two amazing daughters, God has pruned my life. In some areas, I've gone from bad to pretty good. In others, terrible to somewhat average.

This list isn't exhaustive and it doesn't come from an expert. It's just a few lessons I've learned along the way... many times, the hard way.

So here goes...I hope they're helpful.

  1. Go ahead and try to change the other person...once you are perfect.
    • Ever tried to change someone..like say your spouse? How'd that go for you? Work on yourself first. It's the only person you can really do a deep work with. As you do, you'll find that your life is encouraging others to live better.
  2. Keep reminding yourself of how good you have it.
    • No, you don't have it all. You can't and unless your parents own oil fields in the middle east, you won't. But you are drowning in the goodness of a great God if you quit reaching and take the time to notice. You. Are. Blessed. Be blessed.
  3. Your kids are learning how to be parents. Show (not tell) them great advice.
    • I get it. You're brilliant and you have so much to teach your kids. How much do you remember your parents' lectures? Probably not much. On the other hand, isn't it just a bit unnerving to see yourself parent the way your parents did?
  4. Stuff is not as important as memories.
    • This is a given. We know this to be true. The hard part is doing the hard work of creating memories instead of the easy work of just buying something.
  5. Don't stress about things that won't matter.
    • Will it matter in 3 months? 1 month? 1 week? 1 hour? Then don't stress about it now.
  6. Use your time, influence and energy to add value not just correct behavior.
    • Make sure those closest to you know how amazing they are, how valuable they are and how they are changing the world! Once they're confident about that, talk about the messy room. It's not a matter of importance. It's a matter or prioritization.
  7. Control the controllables and trust God with what you can't.
    • Too often we stress about what we CAN'T change and merely talk about the things we CAN. What can you control? What can you change? Focus on those. Trust me, you'll have plenty to work on.
  8. Your family will remember how you made them feel way more than what you said.
    • What's it like to be on the other side of you? Wanna know? Ask your spouse and/or kids and don't talk back until they're finished. You may want to sit down for this one.
  9. Many times, I suck as a father, husband and human. Thank God for His grace, accept it for yourself and pass it on to others.

    • We all screw up often. Accept God's forgiveness. No one expects you to be perfect. You shouldn't either. Your family won't be either so pay that forgiveness forward.
  10. Hope is powerful because it says that tomorrow is unwritten and can be better than you ever dreamed.

    • Be hopeful! Could your marriage be better? Of course it could! And it will! Don't be overwhelmed by all the things that need to change. What is one right thing you could do that would make your marriage better? Do it! Just start. It'll snowball before you know it! I'm rooting for ya!

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Each of these lessons have been learned by making mistakes upon mistakes. I've been able to make progress through the seemingly limitless patience of my wife and love of my kids. Here's to making the next 10 years even better!

What about you? What marriage tips have you learned over the years? Share them with us in the comments below!