Eighteen Years and Counting (Tips from the Marriage Trenches)


My husband and I recently celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. To me, this didn’t seem like a big number, when you know of couples celebrating 30 and 40 and 50 years. But when you consider that almost half of American marriages end in divorce and the average length of an American marriage is just over eight years, well, then 18 years is pretty impressive.

We went to Halls to celebrate and we were given a table in the anniversary corner. There was a couple there celebrating three years and another celebrating SIXTY. The couple who was on number three looked at the couple celebrating sixty and my husband and myself and asked for advice.

I politely sat back to let the sixty-year couple start and the wife simply started to laugh. She said, “It is easy…just remember to take nothing seriously,”. And I jumped right in! Because that is my philosophy. The man, who so reminded me of my own husband, just sat and nodded while eating his steak, and the lady animatedly laughed and talked about how she just sailed through life enjoying most of the seconds. 

We continued to chat and I was happy to discover her additional “secrets” were very similar to my own. So, I will share them here in hopes it inspires you and your spouse to see a long and mostly happy union for eternity.

Tips for a Happy Marriage

DO Go to Bed Mad

Most people don’t say this. They think a problem needs to be solved before the morning. But I can tell you, both in personal experiences AND professionally, time is necessary when situations get heated. So although you might not get a whole lot of sleep, you will get the time to calm down and reflect and consider the other person’s point of view. It is also amazing how things that seemed so big in the evening might become insignificant in the morning light.

Spend the Money

I am not saying live beyond your means. And I am not saying to spend your last penny every month. But I am saying the money you work so hard to make should be enjoyed together. Whether that be a trip or a new piece of furniture or a really nice meal. You truly cannot take it with you, and while you want to have a safety net, you don’t need to put it all in there. Yes, there will be rainy days, but there are a lot more sunny ones, so be sure to enjoy those as well!

Find Time to Date

This might not look as sexy as it once did. But have a beer on the screened porch when the kids go to bed. Or find a sitter once a month and go eat at Chick Fil A if you have to! And, if the means allow, take a long weekend (or week!) and go somewhere without the kids. It is AMAZING what these quick or long times away from the kids will do to help you remember what made you fall in love with that person so long ago.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

I am certain there are many, many things that your significant other does that drive you batty. I am also certain the same would be said by them about you. We all have our habits and our traits that might not be our favorites and if we continuously fixate on those, well, we will make both of us miserable. So yes, my husband’s need to have the TV and music at concert level volume could be a daily argument. And he could constantly complain about my Tupperware cabinet that falls out like a waterfall whenever you open it. But we mostly laugh and only bring it up on occasion, and usually when we are frustrated with the bigger stuff. This leads me to…

Agree to Disagree

While you are, hopefully, on the same page for most things, there will always be things you just don’t share the same thoughts around. And, unfortunately, sometimes those disagreements will be on the big things, and not just the little ones. This might be the hardest obstacle to get through. Because there may be disagreements over child-raising. And there may be disagreements over how to spend money. And there may be disagreements over personal choices that the other person vehemently opposes. Taking a step back to see how detrimental this choice is or this decision is to the overall long-term benefits of your family is the key. You do have to give sometimes and you do have to take. Is this a hill to die on? Is this going to cause a rift for the foreseeable future? Can you let go of this? If you cannot, be sure you have chosen a calm time to present your case. And that you have your rationale ready. And hopefully, both sides can adopt the agree to disagree mentality and work to find a way to coexist despite this difference.

It’s also important to remember and celebrate all that you do share. One or two differing opinions is natural and actually beneficial to ensure that all sides are considered and accepted, as you navigate life. One other positive? It is a valuable attribute for your children to witness, as you will always encounter those with differing opinions. Showing them how to accept and coexist with others with differing thoughts will set them up for a lifetime of success.


Instill fun. And playfulness. And joy. My husband and I were shopping for furniture recently and the salesperson said, “Y’all are just so fun”. It was quite possibly the greatest compliment of our marriage. Laugh! Be happy. Celebrate. THAT is what will get you through all the rest. 

So as we travel through February, the month to celebrate love, be sure to take the time to celebrate your sweetheart. Take time to date (even if not on February 14th). Spend the money on a meal or flowers or chocolates. Put aside your differences. And, at least on that special day, DON’T go to bed mad!