How to Love Each Other Well Through the Years

How does a married couple love each other well through the years? I think honoring our roles as husband and wife is an excellent place to start.

My husband and I celebrated twenty-one years of marriage this May. Around our anniversary, we like to reminisce about our wedding and years together. This year, I thought about our bridal showers. In previous generations, men traditionally didn’t attend bridal showers. Being a little uncomfortable in social situations, I remember inviting my now-husband to attend.

I didn’t expect him to go, but I was very happy when he did. To this day, we often joke about a conversation we had with an older lady who was good friends with my grandmother. She said, pointing for clarification, “Remember, you are the man. And you are the woman.”

At the time, we graciously accepted her comment and often joke about the classification now. In retrospect, this simple advice has merit. I think it helps us find the secret to a long, healthy marriage.

God Gives Instructions to Husbands and Wives

Scripture is full of instructions for both husbands and wives. Ephesians 5:25 (NIV) instructs men that “Husbands [are to] love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Proverbs 14:4 (NIV) teaches women that “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.”

Husbands are to love their wives as Christ did the church, whereas wives are meant to support and help their husbands without tearing them down.

I think marriage is like a house. Those early years form the base or foundation on which the middle and later years build. The first step in loving each other well is to treat each other with kindness, respect, forgiveness, compassion, and, most importantly, love.

Consider the principles of love, patience, and forgiveness that are outlined in Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV). “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Does that mean that everything in your life together is meant to be a Hallmark Christmas movie? Nope. That’s what dating and engagements are for. Marriage, with true and pure love, includes hardships. It’s about paying bills, hospital stays, dirty diapers, and sleep deprivation while on a mission to keep that toddler from trying to unalive themselves (and man, they give it all they’ve got).

When we first married, we lived with my husband’s parents for two years. Then, we moved to our first apartment for three years. Those moves changed the dynamics of our relationship. After five years of marriage, we thought we were ready to purchase a home.

We bought the house that time forgot. We spent every minute and every penny for years trying to repair it. The Tom Hanks film, “The Money Pit,” has nothing to do with the multitude of problems that place had.

We had infestations that baffled the Orkin man, holes in the floor hidden by carpet, and holes in the roof concealed by drop ceilings. After a few months, my entire family moved in for an extended period.

We had years of hardship related to careers. We had our first baby. Then I had about a dozen surgeries—several of which required my husband to help me in very personal ways, three miscarriages and a year of infertility.

Transitions can be tough, and my becoming a stay-at-home mom was another unexpected change in dynamics. At Christmas 2016, God gave us our second baby. And eighteen months later, our third.

We are not perfect, and that’s okay. It’s during imperfection that God’s love makes beautiful things happen.

Bearing in Love Includes the Imperfect

There were moments during all of that living that one or both of us could have said, “Enough.” The thing about being a Christian is that we realize at some point how very imperfect we are. God gives us scripture like that of Ephesians 4:2-3 with the understanding that we will have days we fail.

But, on the days that we don’t, we draw closer to Him and each other.

We don’t go to bed angry. We apologize when we are wrong. We sold that awful house. Now, years later, we can laugh about things that perhaps weren’t funny at all once upon a time.

One time, my husband was simply changing out a light fixture and turning off the power to that specific spot in the kitchen. Because the electrical lines weren’t up to code, he almost electrocuted himself and blew out power in half the house.

It terrified me and the kids. Our boys thought we had a poltergeist. I named it Herbie. They hollered “Goodbye, Herbie,” as we closed and locked the front door for the last time.

Those years were hard, but we always had each other. We always persevered, and because of that, we have this great life with our mini-mes serving as pieces of our hearts, walking around and bringing such joy.

Love Always

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV) speaks of “always” in love. It says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

We are human; we are going to get angry, speak harshly, and throw the past up. We are inclined to evil in that way. I think the key to loving well through the years is admitting imperfections while always loving and always persevering.

That means we always honor each other when we are wrong and take the steps to make things right. Failing one day does not mean failure of the institution. It simply means that tomorrow is another chance to try to live the way scripture tells us to. Marriage isn’t easy, but it encompasses all the”always” parts of life. After God, it is meant to be the next most precious relationship in our human life.


My marriage isn’t perfect—no marriage is—but we are each other’s people. We always love and persevere when life gets hard.

I’m excited to be still holding his hand when we hit fifty-one years and beyond.

If you are struggling in a season of marriage right now, please know that while some days may seem long and you may feel like you are failing, the years will flow faster than you think. Cleave to one another.

The Bible tells us that marriage is about love in action. Remember Romans 12:9-12 (NIV), “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

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