Nurturing My Nest Blog

Routines and Rhythms of Homemaking
Intentional Homebuilding & Custom Built Education
 Based in Tennessee. Available for travel.

10 Secrets from 35 Years of Marriage

PC: Katie McLeod Photography

This April Tim and I will be approaching 35 years of marriage. Although this number is staggering, I know that both of us feel that we are a better version of ourselves in this season that we were when we started off at the beginning. I thought it would be fascinating to ask what I would tell my younger self about marriage. Since we are celebrating marriage, I choose a kissing picture because those are Tim’s favorites. Because reflection is always helpful, Tim and I each thought of five lessons that we learned over our years together.

Here are Tim’s thoughts:

(I listed them here, but Tim unpacks them in the podcast linked below.)

1. A good marriage takes WORK, but it is so worth it.

2. Learn to adapt.

3. Kids will come.

4. Things don’t turn out the way you expect. Expect the unexpected.

5. Pray with your spouse daily in the morning and the evening.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. I am selfish. When I married, I did not think that selfishness was something that I struggled with personally. That was wrong. I was the oldest in my family. I helped my mom all the time. I helped my siblings, as well as others. However, when I married Tim, I purposed to ask him what he needed me to do for him or for us each day. I determined to respond promptly to anything he asked me to do whether that was taking dry cleaning to the cleaners or responding to a phone call. Daily, I aim to think of what he is needing before I settle into my list. Practically, this means making sure that he has his food to take to lunch. If not, I prepare that promptly. Often he does not need anything, but i always ask. The selfish comes in when I have my things that I want to do, but I purpose to take care of his needs before I take care of mine.
  2. Marriage is WORK. It takes physical work, emotional work and spiritual work. Yes, we have had to do grunt work regularly in our lives. We have moved and built houses – doing much of the physical work ourselves. We have struggled through extremely difficult problems in our marriage that took years of repair, counseling and forgiveness. We have searched for God’s answers to life’s questions. We have grown as our bodies have changed over the years in the ups and downs, in having kids, in surgeries, in new seasons and in the pursuit of healthy. We have grown spiritually separately as well as together. We have served in the same ministries as well as different one. The qualities of loyalty, persistence and integrity pressed us forward during some of our hardest times. Quitting is not an option.
  3. Teamwork – Teamwork makes the dream work. This is so true. Together we can accomplish so much more than we could if we worked individually. Together we have raised five children, homeschooled those five children, built two homes as the contractors, walked beside five family members with cancer, celebrated career achievements, volunteered together, sacrificed, celebrated, hosted parties and worship nights, sang together (made music together), created photography in tandem, planned and enjoyed vacations, thrown and glazed pottery and worked together in countless ways. Let me give you an example of teamwork. Yesterday, I was up early cooking a meal for a family whose son died this week. As I was leaving, Tim mentioned he might run out to complete an errand. I told him that I would do it for him on the way home. When I arrived home, he had pulled the garbage up from the road, washed all the dishes and put them away. He did not have to do that while I was gone. This is what team work looks like on an ordinary day. One of my favorite ways to play team is in the dreaming and scheming which we are always doing! I guess this is what we call planning and problem solving. Dreaming and scheming sounds more exciting.
  4. Speak well of your husband or wife in public and private. Speak well of him to your family and friends. Speak well of him. It is that simple. If there are problems that need to be sorted out, seek out a Christian counselor or a trusted, confidential, Biblically-sound advice giving friend. Finding a confidential friend is very challenging. One time I needed that kind of friend. It literally took me a month to decide who to talk to in confidence. While I had several close, loyal friends, I did not quickly decide who would be best to trust. I aim to be that kind of trustworthy friend. Maybe you could be that sort of friend. Much of our trouble comes from an untamed tongue. (Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.)
  5. I want Tim to be a better person with me than he was without me. I don’t want to hold him back from doing the things that he wants to do. I aim to encourage him toward a healthy lifestyle, spiritual maturity, serving opportunities, guy friendships, new hobbies (i.e. pottery) and any dream he might share with me. I have encouraged him to fly and to own his own plane. I know that I am a better person than when I married Tim. Both of us agree that we like the people that we are today more than we like the people we were in our 20’s. I love that we read scripture and pray out loud every day. I want to come beside Tim as a helper, a teammate, a confidant, a co-pilot, a parent, a date and a spouse. I love that we have history and memories and dreams!!

If you have been with me for a while, you know that I say that family is God’s idea. Home is God’s idea. Marriage is God’s idea. Marital intimacy is God’s idea. Joy is God’s idea.

Granted, a happy marriage takes two people committed to work and change to produce a long term relationship. Many want this, but the person they married does not. Or the person they married changed. We do not take our current situation lightly. Tomorrow is not promised. Forever is not a thing. Today is a gift.

If you have thoughts on this topic, we would love to hear them. You can comment below or send an email to

Join us for a conversation at Embrace Your Everyday podcast.

More on Marriage on these blogs and podcasts:


Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It

Radical Monogamy

Anatomy of an Affair: How Affairs, Attractions and Addiction Develop

Who Am I? What is My True Identity?


Keeping Your Marriage HOT!!!

Marriage With Benefits

In-Laws: Are you IN or OUT With Your In-laws?


10 Things TO DO to have a Happy Marriage

10 Things NOT TO DO to have a Happy Marriage

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