20 Years Married . . . and Counting


I’m writing this just four months shy of being able to say I’ve been married for more than half of my life. This is sort of a “whoa” moment for me, a freeze-frame of who I thought I’d be now and who I think I really am. Surely the me a few months before my wedding wouldn’t recognize the me that exists today. 

“Hey, remember me? The obnoxious teen and college kid who insisted upon everything and contradicted you at every turn? Yeah, that’s me. I’m sorry for the memories you may have of my constant need to be combative. I still struggle. Shockingly, so far it’s all turned out okay.”

Life has a way of shaping, of shaving off edges to make room for what’s underneath. Real, everyday experiences bump up against expectations and leave something else, different, better (along with the messy discards on the cutting room floor).


For so many of us, marriage is that shift. Or scalpel. 

I’ll go ahead and confess that I won the lottery, in marriage terms. This is a public post, and yet even in private I am able to happily say that I married a man who is loving, generous, and easy to be around. Unlike his (not so) better half, he insists only upon things of immense consequence and quickly forgets his needs in favor of those around him.

What I’m saying is that I got a guy who makes me better. I picked fights early in our marriage, simply because I like ending up as victor, and think that conflict can efficiently get blood and adrenaline flowing. My wiser-than-his-years husband deftly avoided my efforts — not with anger, but by refusing to engage in my games. He’s so much smarter than I am. 

Twenty years of marriage have gone by, whether or not I believe it. Six children, several moves, and a few career changes have distracted us at times, but I want you to hear this from me: Nothing is more important to me than my relationship with this man. 

There are no hidden secrets or perfect formulas. But after all these years, I definitely cling to a few things I’ve learned along the way. 

  • You are not the center of the universe, and your needs don’t have to come first. I’d say this to any wife or husband. Start thinking of others before yourself, and you’ll feel more complete than ever. 
  • Dig in. This journey is long, exhausting, and rewarding! But it only works if you’re both invested. Stay invested, get help if one or both of you needs it, and encourage the hell out of each other. Spend lots of time together, and then give each other the space needed. Hopefully you’re in this for the long haul, so act like it.

    married couple
    Photo by jewettphotography.com
  • I’m just gonna say it: Sometimes it’s all right to go to bed angry. Quite a few times, I’ve gone to bed upset at my husband only to wake and find that the light of a new day has re-framed the tension. The struggle has often floated away like a bad dream. I’m not telling you to avoid hard conversations. But I am saying that sometimes they can wait and might even work themselves out. 
  • Keep your priorities in order. Nothing I write here would matter at all if I hadn’t put my relationship with my husband first — before my kids, friends, jobs, and aspirations. And it’s sweet to see my kids’ comfort and security increase because they know their parents are with and FOR each other. 

Two decades of marriage have taught me a lot, and have also taught me that I have so much to learn. I fully expect that by my 40th anniversary, I’ll look back and laugh at where I am today. In that sense, I look forward to getting older and seeing how far I’ve come on a path that’s never predictable. In the meantime, I savor the thought that I get to spend the rest of my life loving and being loved by, knowing and being known by, the man I married. I am a lucky woman.


  1. Thanks for sharing this Kristen! Such a great tribute to Dave & to marriage! Thanks for being so real! Younger couples especially need to hear this!!!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here