Twenty Things I Wish I Understood Early in My Marriage

Rick and I have been married thirty-two years today! We were married on August 25, 1984 on a hot summer day in Sioux City, Iowa. We spent the first 20 years of our marriage moving every two to three years, including several years in Brazil and China for Rick’s job.

Now settled in the mountains of Colorado Springs, we can both testify that these are our favorite years together.

I love this season of our empty-nest-almost-grandparents life.

It’s not all been easy, and there were times we wondered if we would make it, but I can say today that I’ve never loved him more!

Looking back over the years, these are the twenty things I wish I had understood earlier in my marriage:

  1. Keep dating your husband.
  2. Laugh more and complain less.
  3. Talk less and listen more.
  4. Pray for him more often.
  5. Learn to speak his love language.
  6. Speak blessings over him more.
  7. Tell your children why you fell in love with their dad.
  8. Tell your children why you respect him. And do this in front of him.
  9. Take lots of photos and video of your husband with your kids.
  10. Find ways to have getaways … just the two of you.
  11. Realize his drive to succeed is deeply rooted in his commitment to provide for his family.
  12. Realize there’s a reason Satan left Job’s nagging, negative wife alone when he destroyed everything else in Job’s life.
  13. Don’t be like Job’s wife.
  14. Tell him that you’re changing subjects on him before you change subjects on him. (It took me 25 years to figure that out.)
  15. Realize there’s a place in your heart that only God can make whole and complete, and it’s not up to your husband to fill that place.
  16. Know that the Rider on the white horse isn’t supposed to be your husband. See Revelation 19 for that Rider’s name.
  17. Understand that Hollywood’s version of romance is just that: Hollywood’s version.
  18. Pray that God fully captures both of your hearts, and ask Him to do whatever it takes to do so.
  19. Remember that some of what annoys you the most today may be the things you love the most about him later in life.
  20. Think about what you hope he will say about you at the end of your life, and be that kind of wife now.


One of my favorite books on marriage is What’s It Like to be Married to Me… and Other Dangerous Questions by Linda Dillow. Some other books I’ve loved for my marriage are The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman and Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerich. Also, watch for Men Who Love Fierce Women: The Power of Servant Leadership in Your Marriage by LeRoy and Kimberly Wagner. Powerful book and it releases September 6!

What about you? What are things you wish you knew earlier in your marriage? And do you have any great resources you can recommend for making marriages stronger?


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24 Responses

  1. One of the best books I ever read on marriage was called Passages of Marriage -by Dr. Frank and Mary Alice Minirth, Dr. Brian and Dr. Deborah Newman and Dr. Robert and Susan Hemfelt Five growth stages that will take your marriage to greater intimacy and fulfilment. I still find myself rereading this book. It talks about stages in your marriage and how to connect with each other through each stage.

  2. Judy, thank you for sharing this. I agree with your list and I would probably move PRAY FOR MY HUSBAND to the top of my list. “His Brain, Her Brain” by Walt and Barb Larimore is a fantastic book to learn why and how, men and women communicate and think differently. My husband and I are brand spankin’ new empty nesters. We are talking one week post taking our daughter to college and our son going into the Air Force. My husband and I have been reading through “Married and Still Loving It. The Joys and Challenges of the Second Half” by Chapman and Myra. It’s very helpful at this stage of life. Another great book…”Sex and the Supremecy of Christ”.

    1. Janelle – Thanks for such great book suggestions! And hard to believe both of your “kids” are now out of the house. Beth Moore’s Feathers from My Nest is a beautiful book about the empty nest.

  3. Judy, this was amazing and thank you for the reminder of true love. I needed to hear this right now 🙂

  4. Dear amazing Judy …
    This is full of wisdom and rich “pearls” to don each and every day.
    THANK YOU so much!!!
    God bless you and Rick with ANOTHER 32 years, together, on this side of Heaven!

  5. I have to completely agree with Love & Respect by Dr. Eggerich. It has been a total game changer for us.
    I think the greatest resource is prayer and having a community of other married couples who are believers who will pray with you and for you.
    We were literally on the brink of divorce and with God’s grace, the Love & Respect book, and LOTS of prayer. We are okay, we are starting to thrive again.

  6. Congratulations on 32 years! My husband and I just celebrated our 33rd on August 20th. During a particular tough time in our marriage, a friend recommended ‘Power of a Praying Wife’ by Stormie Omartian. As much as I cried out for God to change my husband, I came to understand He wanted and needed to change me. God and that book saved our marriage. Loved your list! Kept nodding my head in agreement. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi Jdy
    I loved this post.
    I am beginning to really appreciate “wisdom”
    This post is loaded with wisdom
    In His Lve

  8. I just love you and your wisdom. I can hear your voice as I read your posts and I miss you all the more! I love your list and can’t wait to read the new book coming out! May the next 32 years be filled with laughter, love, adventure and growing! Love you friend!

  9. I love that your husband commented on your post! Such great wisdom and advice here. I especially love #20.

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