I have now been married for 25 years to the man of my dreams. How in the world did that happen? It seems like it was just a few years ago that we were speaking those vows of love, commitment, and promise to each other. And he still maintains that they have been 22 of the happiest years of his life. We like to joke about it, but some of those early years were kind of rough.

We were young and in college when we married. There were many times when we ate Ramen noodles or boxed macaroni and cheese for our meals and adding meat to our diet seemed a luxury. If we were splurging, we would buy two cans of Shasta pop at the store. But we experienced God’s faithfulness, even when we had very little surplus financially. We served as youth leaders together, and Steve was soon hired as an Associate Youth Pastor. And we grew together and learned many things.

It took way too long for me to learn the truth that we are on the same team. For some reason I came into marriage thinking that it was all-important for me to be right. I wanted to win at arguments, and in the process made us both miserable. I didn’t use productive skills in disagreements and instead slammed cupboard doors, stomped around the apartment, and said terrible things that I didn’t mean – way too many times.

Eventually I realized that my childish behavior wasn’t earning anything but pain for me and misery for Steve. I asked God to forgive me and to help me to change, and He did. I had to stop and remind myself often that Steve and were partners; if I won, that means he lost… and that should not happen for two people on the same team. We learned to actually talk to each other instead of assuming things, and our relationship blossomed and grew.

We have shared many experiences in this past quarter-of-a-century: many good and many difficult. But because we decided to work together as a team somewhere near the beginning of our journey, the years keep getting better and better. A mentor of ours always says, “Old love is better than young love,” and we would have to agree.

If you’re in the early years of a marriage, please learn from my mistakes.

  • If there is a winner there must be a loser, and that type of conquest will never strengthen a relationship.
  • Ask God to help you learn to work together as a team.
  • Stop acting like a child when you disagree.
  • Don’t say things you don’t mean.
  • Pray for God to make you the wife your husband needs you to be.
  • Really communicate and don’t assume you know what he is thinking.
  • Forgive him, forgive yourself, and grow together through the difficult times.
  • There will be difficult times; God will help you through.
  • Remember that marriage takes hard work to be successful, but that every investment will be worth it!