This Friday, August 27th, David and I will celebrate 27 years of marriage. It is not lost on me that 27 years is a hella long time. And with divorce rates at 50% in the United States I am proud of this accomplishment, because it didn’t come easy and it CERTAINLY wasn’t very fun at times.
We have had people tell us that we are #relationshipgoals but if I can be honest? I cannot imagine anything more ludicrous. We are a lot of things, but relationship goals, we are not.
If you want to pick a couple to shoot for find someone who has had 27 blissful years, who has never had to scrimp and save, beg and borrow, who has never fallen behind on bills or cried themselves to sleep from a broken heart, who has never lost a child or suffered through miscarriages, who has always gotten along with their in-laws and never gained weight. Find that couple! (If they exist.)
But we…we are not that couple.
So in true Radke fashion, I have made a list of 27 things I’ve learned over these long a$$ years. I am going to be as frank and honest and completely unfiltered with you, as I can. So, yeah…
Buckle up, buttercup.
1. He will bring his upbringing and his childhood and his baggage into your marriage. And so will you. It cannot be helped.
2. Find a good marriage counselor. I don’t care if you have to save money and cut off Netflix. Find one, use them, pay them!
3. If you just kinda don’t like his mother or brother or uncle Steve or Aunt May before you get married, you will abhor them after you are married. So just know going in: you marry him, you marry his people.
4. Do not discuss the personal, intimate details of your sex life with your friends.
5. Find a couple of close friends you can say things like “He won’t put the toilet seat down” to. But beyond that? Hush. Don’t talk negatively about him. Would you want him to talk like that about you?
6. Find out what he does when he’s stressed. Does he eat a lot, nap a lot, etc? Find out what he does, and then, when he does those things, be a help to him. Make him his favorite meal. Have sex with him.
7. Offer to pray with him and for him.
8. Be nice to him. Say “thank you” and “please,” offer to drive once in a while, fold his t-shirts. If you treat him like a dog please don’t be surprised when he bites.
9. Find at least one tv show that you can enjoy together.
10. Get in a church that you BOTH enjoy. You think this doesn’t matter now, but it will! When you have kids?? It! Will!
11. Sometimes you go to Schlotzsky’s because he likes Schlotzsky’s. It’s just one meal. Grow up!
12. If he decides at 42 to change his career, let him. This is his one life.
13. If you hang out at a table full of women who talk horribly about their husbands and how stupid they are and how bad in bed they are and how they can’t do anything right: you’re at the wrong table.
14. What is his favorite dessert? Learn to make it, even if you hate it.
15. Movies tell us that sex just gets better and better and more adventurous and more outrageous. The movies are lying.
16. Do not divorce over money! You can be single and still be poor.
17. Sometimes we don’t feel it. We don’t feel “love”, we don’t feel “like”, we don’t feel affectionate, we don’t feel happy. But our feelings cannot be trusted! So instead of getting all up in our feels, go outside and put your feet in the grass for five minutes. Get grounded. Literally! Remind yourself why you chose him. Think about how deep your love is for him. Laugh at a funny memory. Then go inside and start over.
18. Romans 4:17 says to “call those things that are not as though they were.” I cannot tell you the number of times I have done this over my marriage, over my husband, over our finances and over myself. There is power in your words.
19. People who say “never stop dating each other…we go on a date once a week” clearly have no life. A date can be a quick lunch together. It can be a Sonic drink, with the windows rolled down, looking at fancy houses. It can be a Starbucks and a five minute whispered chat in the car because the baby just fell asleep in their car seat. A date looks different to everyone, so stop listening to the “experts.”
20. Sometimes you can say “thank you” with sex. This does not make you a prostitute. It makes you efficient.
21. Agree with each other on how to handle the kids. Get on the same page. See eye to eye. See #2.
22. If you need him to do/fix something around the house, ask him with your top off.
23. If you don’t have fun together, you’re doing something wrong!
24. Are you his best friend? Try it. You might like it. Listen to him. Encourage him. Make him laugh. Share your stuff with him, too. He wants to mean more to you than your college bestie, and he should.
25. Come up with a sign (David and I use our hand up as if to say “stop”) and use this sign when it is about to become WWIII in your home. Use it when you’re tired and irritated and your head is about to pop off. Use it when you know that if you don’t, murder will likely occur. Do not use it when he walks in the room and starts talking while you’re watching The Real Housewives. Use it sparingly. Make it count. And honor it!! Come back to the issue at a later date or once you’ve both calmed down. This has been a lifesaver for us.
26. I know you don’t have much money, but if possible, give to something bigger than the both of you. A charity. A children’s hospital. Your church. This is important and it opens you both up to God’s blessings (which are the best kind!)
27. Look him in the eyes. When you kiss him, when you tell him you love him, when you say “goodbye” each morning. Put down your coffee, set down your phone and look him in the eye. Do this often.
There you have ‘em! These 27 things won’t get you a perfect marriage, but they will get you a pretty solid one.
My hope for you is that you decide - like I did on year 15 (I’ve always been a late learner) - that this marriage I found myself in was worth all the hell it had taken me through. That this man I had committed to was worth getting to know and learning to love. And that my children would not grow up in a broken or unloving home, but rather, one that fought for hard and difficult things even when it hurt.
So far, so good.