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How to Stay Married 25+ Years

I've been thinking a lot about this post, about how it might offend anyone who had a marriage that didn't make it 25+ years.

But I'm going ahead with it because I have learned a thing or two in my 25+ year marriage that no one told me and I didn't read in any book. I do not mean any offense to those whose marriages have ended unhappily. I only mean to give tips and encouragement to those who are striving to make their marriages last a lifetime.

How to Stay Married For a Lifetime

1. Buckle up. It's going to be difficult at times.

I once talked to a pregnant mother who shared that she was going to try giving birth naturally and she sure hoped it didn't hurt too much. My hand immediately went to my mouth to keep the words inside. Since I have given birth naturally 6 times, I know that it hurts like a BIG DOG. I was thinking, "Oh, honey. You have a big surprise ahead!" I hate to burst any newlywed bubbles, but the truth is there will be times when you will wonder what on earth you were thinking committing yourself to this... this person you are bound to. You'll get over that feeling, though, and if you stick it out you'll be glad. Just like in natural childbirth.

2. Don't expect him to be perfect. He's not. (And neither are you.)

He's not always going to say and do the right thing. (And neither are you.) I read somewhere that every good wife is blind in one eye.  If you can forgive him for being imperfect, you're halfway to a lifetime marriage.

3. Don't hold it against him when he's a jerk. Oh, yes. He will be. (And so will you.)

There will be times when he might forget your birthday or your anniversary or say something insensitive or downright cruel. That doesn't mean that he isn't the one for you or you should have never married him or any of those things. It means he's human. (And so are you.)  Talk it out, work it out, and don't hold on to it.

4. Go to bed together.

There have been times in our marriage when one of us has stayed up later than the other working on bills, or household tasks, or reading a book, or watching a movie. Don't make this a habit. We are definitely happier and healthier when we go to bed together.

5. Remember that feelings ebb and flow.

Commitment lasts. You'll be deliriously happy. You'll be miserable. You'll be miffed. You'll be content. You'll be furious. All those feelings will come and go. Your commitment is what must never falter.

6. Be nice.

When you have the Bunco girls over, don't you vacuum and dust, touch up your nails, put on something nice, and greet them with a smile? Why do you do that? Because you want them to think you are cute? Because you want them think you care about them? Your husband deserves that too. Believe me, since I have 8 children, I know about those days when the 2 year old took off her diaper and painted the room with the contents therein, and the dog threw up on the floor, and the girls won't stop bickering. You can still be nice when those days come. You would do it for the Bunco girls, or if your pastor dropped by. You can do it for your husband.

There are times that these things will be extremely difficult to do. You will fail sometimes, and so will your husband. Repent, forgive, dust yourself off, and determine to do better.

When you have been married 25+ years, you will look back at all the times you've come through, good and bad, and you'll be amazed at your perseverance! You'll look at a picture of your younger selves, and, besides being embarrassed at the bad hair and all the mascara, you'll shake your head in wonder that those crazy kids actually made it this far!

Postscript: We have real a LOT of books on marriage, some great, some not so great. Our favorites are listed below:

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  1. I love this post.

    My husband and I will be celebrating 20 years on the 28th of this month. I especially laughed at your last paragraph. When I look back at old photos of us…so young (I was 18, he 20 when we married), I think the same thing you wrote…..and 20 years and 9 children later, we still feel like those crazy kids we once were! That’s the best part! 😉


    • My goodness 8 (Connie) and 9 (Candace) kids?! I have 1 and want to pull my hair out when she cries which is not very often lol.

  2. These are soooo good! I think I was told some of these things, but being a newly wed I just couldn’t believe that my prince charming would one day have warts. Or that I, his princess, would too! 😉 The first time I heard my husband snore, I was so thankful that this special man was sharing a bed with me that it was nearly music to my ears. 13 years later and I may find his habit of dropping clothes on the floor 2 feet from the dirty clothes annoying at times, but as you say, the feeling passes, but his love and care for me doesn’t! Praying God blesses you both with 25 more years, at least!

  3. Love it! Great post, Connie. Now, I need to go to bed…my husband is already there!

  4. Congrats on 25 years! I liked the post. My husband and I have only been married 2 years so we don’t have a ton of experience, but we’re both happier when we go to bed at the same time. In fact, when one of us is out of town the other usually ends up staying up way way too late because there’s no one to go to bed with! Funny how little things like that can make a difference.

  5. Thank you for this post, it was exactly what i needed to hear today… Not for the first time, earlier today, i was wondering to myself if my husband and i have what it takes to stand the test of time, our 1 year anniversary is next month, and once in a while i just wonder… So again, thank you for this, more than you know…

    • Bryony Peters says:

      The first year was the hardest for us, too… Don’t give up! 10 years in I love my hubby more than ever! You need to be more stubborn to stick it out than you are hurt or frustrated sometimes, but I believe any marriage (that is not abusive) can work!

    • Serenity Summers says:

      Wow! I never meet anyone else named “Serenity”! I don’t think I have ever met anyone who did not comment on my name when meeting me or ask if I am indeed “serene”. Or my personal favorite, “wow! were your parents hippies?” Anyway, its great to “meet” another “Serenity”!
      If it makes you feel any better my husband and I had a difficult first year. God has been gracious to bless our efforts though and we have been married 12 years. You couldn’t pay me enough to do the first year over again but we survived and God has grown us in amazing ways since then. Keep going, God can do anything when we are faithful!!!

    • Serenity, I second what Bryony said….the first year was really really hard for us too, but we stuck it out and I’m so glad we did! We moved twice, my husband worked 3 different jobs, and we had our first baby, all in 13 months!

      I think it’s a work in progress, and that it helps if we just relax and remember God’s grace to us. He loved us when we didn’t deserve it! So it doesn’t matter if we don’t get everything right instantly because we’re not going to make God love us any less. With that security, it’s a lot easier to forgive, or to laugh over the chicken pie that is sooooooooo gross because pineapple juice accidentally dripped onto it from the shelf above and made it all sweet…..*blush* Or even much bigger things, serious things, can be covered over by love.

      It helped me as well to remember that forgiveness isn’t saying that the sin didn’t matter or hurt or whatever, but instead saying that I *choose* to put it aside and continue our relationship. Because you do have feelings, but Jesus carries them.

    • I agree! First 3 years were rough, my husband fought Hep C just 15 months into our marriage and had 2 surgeries in that same time frame. We celebrate 10 years (and 2 boys later) next month and I love him more today than I did on the day I married him. We’ve had some really hard times (besides the medical issues, he lost his job last year). You have to keep your focus on forever and what you can do to work at something! I always like to remember that my husband is a child of God and God loves him as much as I do. That helps me keep perspective when I get frustrated with him for something he did or failed to do.

      Congrats Connie and Mr. Smockity! Blessings for another 25 years!!!

  6. My husband and I just celebrated 50 years this past July 28th and we’re working on 50 more! It’s been a wonderful journey and he is absolutely the most thoughtful, hardworking, creative, giving, sexy and thousands of other adjectives if I had room to name them , man that I could ever have dreamed of or hoped to be married to! Never knew love could be so grand!

    • Praise God! You go girl!!!

    • I just left a comment @ the bottom, but neglected to mention that it helps to be married to a sexy babe, and while you (Jo Ann) think that your man is the “most thoughtful, hardworking…” creature on the planet, I think that my man has the corner on the market on those attributes. When he came down the hall–shirtless, no less–last week, well, I won’t go into my raging hormones bit. Who says that you can’t have sensuality in your 50’s?! I have never made it a secret (even in front of our ten kids–most of whom are grown and gone) that I’m smitten with my studly man…much to my kids’ chagrin…of course, now that they’re married, they understand more, and gag less.

      • Your comment made me laugh out loud. :) And for the record… MY husband has the corner on the market for those attributes as well. 😉 I think it’s wonderful when wives think believe their husbands are amazing. In my experience, when I take the time to tell him how thoughtful etc. he is, he takes more time to make sure he keeps up what he’s doing. Plus, by making mention of it and thanking/praising him, it keeps it from feeling routine and makes it always feel special. We’ve made it 4 years, and we’re looking forward to many, many more!

  7. While my hubby and I have only been married 14 years, I can confirm that (most) of the things you mentioned have been a big factor in keeping our marriage strong through good and also VERY hard times. The only “rule” we break is that my dear hubby goes to bed much earlier than me, at about 7 pm, because he gets up at 3 am to go to work! And even on non-workday evenings, he still goes to bed earlier than me to keep his sleep patterns in line. I feel so blessed to have a strong marriage.

    • We are in the same boat. I stay up later than my husband because he has to get up at 4 am to go to work, so he goes to bed between 7 and 8 pm. If I get up at 4, I’m exhausted before the kids are awake! I feel so blessed to have a husband who is willing to get up so early to provide for his family.

  8. … enjoyed the post and the subsequent comments. Of all the things that are important in a marriage, *commitment* has to be #1. At the back of your mind, and at the front of your mind, you have got to know – absolutely *know* that this is For Life. We’ve been married 20 years. I love my husband dearly, and he is a good husband to me, but that’s not to say we haven’t had tough times – times nobody knew about but ourselves (I don’t mean tough financially – cos these times you’re in it ‘together’). I mean times when we feel like we’re a million miles apart. That is tough. But knowing that, ‘Well, we’re gonna spend the rest of our lives together come what may… I guess I’d better swallow that pride (again!) and try and sort this out. A lifetime together miserable… or… a lifetime together happy – these are the choices.
    Thankfully, in our culture, divorce is still so very, very rare. It doesn’t mean it could never happen, but it does mean it’s not an *option* in your thinking.
    Love, A x

  9. Really enjoyed this post, thanks for your advice. What you wrote is so true, and I’m not sure why we act surprised when it gets tough. It definitely has to be worked at, I’m sure this is why drifting apart happens, nobody talks about this side of marriage and we thing there is something wrong when we do drift.

  10. Love this post. My dh and I have only been married 14 years so far. However, your guidelines are so true. My husband once told a coworker newlywed that marriage was like fruit salad with a bit of spinach spread around. He dislikes spinach but eating it is healthy. Pushing through the hard times in marriage is worth it.

  11. Great post!

    (Wait, you mean he’s not the only one who messes up?)

    Love your hair!

  12. Congratulations Connie! My husband and I only have twelve years under our belts. :) Everything you said is true. So true. Thanks for the encouraging words!

  13. Wonderful and timely post! We celebrate our 24th on Monday :)

  14. After 17 years of marriage myself, all I can say is AMEN!

    Many Blessings,

  15. Congratulations!
    We celebrated our 25th this year as well. And we have a photo of us in early days that looks eerily similar! Amen to all you said. We have had ugly times and sublime times. (our brood also numbers 8 and we homeschool..both totally foreign ideas when we first said “I do”. It’s been a journey!) As we look back, we are thankful for all the hills and valleys. (Though during the hard times, thankfulness was NOT the first thought coming to our head…) We see the Lord has used all to mold us both more into his image. There is something very sweet and rich about having done life with someone for so long, and having so many memories, private jokes, and battle scars. Both our parents are near or beyond their 60th anniversaries. That awed us when we realized that perhaps we were not even half done! Humbly pressing on and learning to savor it all….

  16. Congrats Connie on 25 years! What a blessing, and I totally agree with all of your tips. One thing that God has been speaking to me lately is that my husband was not given to me to fulfill all of my needs and desires and that only He (God) can do that. I’ve also learned to relentlessly pursue God and selflessly loving my husband and forgiving his faults will be so much easier.

  17. Thanks for posting! This is so inspirational. My husband and I have been married for over 7 years, and all of these things are so important to remember. But when you can stick it out through those difficult times, it sure is nice to say you have made it! :)

  18. Love this!! SO true!!

  19. SUCH a great post, Connie! We’re fast approaching Lucky year 13… :)

  20. Thank you for a lovely post and congratulations on 25 years! Although I have only been married 7 years, I spent two years working as a “family law” attorney (until I just couldn’t do it anymore) so I have seen my fair share of failed marriages. I completely agree with another poster that a 100% commitment is the most important thing. Anyone who thinks marriage is only about love or feelings is destined for divorce because you are completely right that feelings ebb and flow. A marriage book I read once said that a marriage shouldn’t be 50/50. It should be 100% and 100% — you each have to give it your all. So I would add to your list one more thing (really just a complement of commitment): Don’t keep score! Don’t count who did what or whose turn it is or how much you do versus him. Give everything you have always.

  21. fantastic! I also highly recommend the book Love and Respect….awesome idea for a gift for the newly weds you know!

  22. ugh – I am super GUILTY of not going to be with my husband. He reads before bed so I hop on to finish emails, etc. He now just turns off the light rather than come in and get me cause I keep working. He’s mentioned before how he doesn’t like it – and I think its’ the ONLY time I have quiet time during the day.

    But honestly – its not worth my marriage !!

  23. I love this post! I’ll have my husband read it. I’ve only been married for close to 5 years, but I’m excited to make it to the milestone you have.

  24. We will be married 15 years this December. I am always learning something new from my spouse. After six boys and we had had some struggles but we have made it. thanks for this post and congrats on being married 25yrs.

  25. And, remember, if God grants you a happy marriage (which isn’t promised in Scripture), be ever grateful, and understand that it is due to God’s grace–alone–in your lives. After all, a sinner married to another sinner doesn’t stand a chance without trusting in God’s grace.

    Congrats on 25 years–and a lifetime to go.

    • Mary Beth says:

      That needs to be one of those “print it up and share it” statements. True. Thank you.
      BTW — are you the same Cathy who used to comment on Amy Scott’s blog? If you are I seem to remember you writing some lengthy (and good comments) and have wondered why you don’t have your own blog. :) I think you’ve got some nuggets to share.

      • Mary Beth,

        How dear of you to leave such nice words. Yes, I am the one who commented on Amy’s blog. And, for a bit, I DID have a blog, but, I don’t have the constitution for it. When you put yourself out there, you open yourself up to misunderstandings, unkind words, and pot shots. I’m a wimp. I didn’t like it.

        And, if you had seen how annoyed I was w/one of my ten (one of the ones still at home) this evening, you might question whether or not I have any sound wisdom–and you MIGHT even question whether or not I know Jesus. Ah, but praise God for His mercy and grace. It’s still relatively early in Norcal, but a new day is looming, and it can’t come fast enough…for His mercies are new every morning, and His faithfulness is great. Can you dig it?! : )

        Good night from the Bay Area.


  26. COngrats on 25 years!!

    And thanks for the points!! Nice to be reminded of them even after almost 10 years:)

  27. Love this post!!
    My hubby and I celebrated 20 years in May. Although we have had some pretty major ups and downs we are now way happier and stronger than we were the first 10 years!
    Remembering that not only he is not perfect but also that I am not is a great piece of advise.
    We make mistakes and must learn to forgive each other for them.

  28. Thank you for a great post! After 18 years of marriage, I completely agree with everything that you said. Commitment is definitely the key…and trying to be nice when you don’t feel like it. Great advice!


  29. Heather Mason says:

    thanks for this post, and the photo, Connie! Always wondered what you looked like at 18 (I think at one point you said that’s how old you were when you married?) We’re celebrating 17 years next month, and have 9 children. It’s been really really rocky at times, but our marriage is very strong now. Another great book is Laura Schlessinger’s “The Care and Feeding of Husbands”. “Created to be his Helpmeet” is my favorite. I threw it the first time I read it (HATED it) but on rereads, found it to be true.

    You are a real blessing, Connie!

    • LOL@book throwing session. You know, men are really different from us. They have to be nurtured and handled with kids gloves. I always wonder how different they would behave if they had to give birth or have a period since for them a paper cut hurts. I remember a former male boss of mine chastising a female supervisor for disciplining a male subordinate. The boss said that the subordinate has “man feelings.” Also, a cousin of mine told me about the “tricks” or strategies she had to employ to get her husband to think that an idea was his own when in fact it was really hers. Sorry if it sounds like I’m picking on the men but it seems like women have to do a lot of should I say compromising or strategizing in the relationship. I guess Toula’s mom from My Big Fat Greek Wedding sums it up nicely…
      “Toula Portokalos: Ma, Dad is so stubborn. What he says goes. “Ah, the man is the head of the house!”
      Maria Portokalos: Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants. ” from IMDB

  30. I’ve read the two bottom books on your list and will be purchasing my own copies soon! I’ve been recommending them to every married person I know :)

  31. Such great tips/reminders! My husband and I have been married for 6 years, but in many ways it feels like a lifetime {in a good way}. We’ve had a good share of bad times, where all you have to cling to is God and each other. And when we come out on the other side, we are always stronger than when we started.

  32. Love this post! And all so true – thanks for sharing!!

  33. Excellent! We’re coming up on 24 years. Everything you said is true and certain.

  34. Serenity Summers says:

    I loved this post! I have been meaning to read Love and Respect but I hadn’t made the time yet. You motivated me!! Thank you!

  35. I needed to hear, “Be Nice” today– I’ve never played Bunco, but my husband deserves my best.

    Thanks! (Beth…7 years married)

  36. My husband and I have been married 28 years and have been going through a difficult time as of late. Thank you so much for the encouraging and TRUE post of acknowledging that no one is perfect, and of forgiveness. God Bless.

  37. I wouldn’t worry about offending people whose marriages didn’t last. For many reasons, my first marriage didn’t last. Going through a divorce has made me one of the biggest fans of sticking with a marriage I know. I am now happily married again, thank God.

  38. So glad I read this post and the comments today. My husband is my best friend in the world, but today he has been moody and it’s hard to be understanding and patient sometimes. We celebrated our second anniversary in July. We’re in it for life. Looking forward to all God has in store for us.

  39. BWA-HA-HA-HAHAHAHAHA!!!!! The hair! (marks’s too!), the mustache, and OH do I remember that fake button on lace collar thingie! Rolling on the floor laughing here! (oh yeah the marriage tips are great though!) :-)

  40. Celebrating our 7,707th day of marriage here. That’s 21+ years for those of you keeping score at home. Being the selfish, sinful, broken person that I am, I have a hard time knowing whether I have “the stuff” to stay married 25 years. What I DO know is that I can love, honor, cherish, esteem, and bless my amazing husband TODAY. For the 7,707th day in a row, thanks be to God for His mercy and grace.

  41. If I’m doing all of this for him…what is he doing for me? I don’t see him breaking up fights, finishing the laundry, cooking dinner and STILL looking nice for me when I come home, from the same job that he works at… I’m just saying that if I put ALL of my effort into making this marriage work – then where is his effort? Where is he taking pains to make things special? When is he putting me (or the family) first before work or friends? What exactly does HE have to do?…Why is HE entitled?…Why isn’t HE expected to do certain things?…Why the double-standard?……

    • Sorry – we’ve been married for 15 years next month.

    • There is no double standard. A wife should put in 100% to maintain her marriage, as should a husband. He is expected to do his part, and I don’t believe this post is advocating that the wife should work while the entitled husband sits on his rear. But we are not allowed by the Bible to say “well, he’s not trying hard, so I don’t have to either.” I think all marriages go through a period where one spouse feels like they are doing all the work of marriage, but focusing on what he isn’t doing only adds more discord to an already less than ideal situation. I think the only things a wife can do in that situation is to do what she needs to do and pray, pray, pray for God to change her husband’s heart.

  42. This made me think of all the marriage thoughts I’ve had this past month, so I posted your link on my site, thanks for a great post.

  43. This is a wonderful post and so true. We are only 6.5 years in and there I times I have felt all of the above. Sometimes I am so happy I pinch myself and other times I’m really frustrated. God gave me my best friend and above all we respect and love each other, even when we are not so loveable. Congrats on your 25+ years!

  44. 17 years this December, and 10 kids… #4 is rough right now with a newborn who is liking late nights.

    And we still have our rough days and ALL these things are great to remember.

    Thank you for the reminder(s)!

  45. Great post! I will be celebrating my 19th year of marriage on Monday! I thank God for my marriage and our 4 beautiful children!

    I agree that marriage is something that both parties have to work hard at. Some times you will have to work harder than others. It is all worth it. I hope to set a good example for my children so they can have a loving relationship like God wants us to have.

    Always remember to make time for quality time together! :)


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