Happily Married How To

When Peter and I became engaged, he was 24...and I was 17. People thought we were nuts. And they thought that my parents were nuts for allowing it. It would never last. We'd never make it to the wedding. And if we did, the marriage wouldn't last.

They didn't know us.

We got married the following year at the ripe old ages of 25 and 18. Peter was, of course, of marrying age, but no one who gets married at 18 knows what they actually want, right? WRONG. In some cases, of course, that is true, but every person, situation, and relationship is different. When I said "I DO" at 18, I knew exactly what I was promising. It was, at times, scary and overwhelming when I stopped to ponder the magnitude of my decision, but I never questioned it.

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In the 16 years that I have known Peter, I have never met a better man. Never once seen someone and thought, "I wonder what life would have been like if I had waited to get married...maybe met Mr. X." In fact, with each passing year (and we'll be celebrating anniversary #13 in June), it becomes more and more apparent that God uniquely designed us for one another.

It hasn't always been easy. In fact, for reasons which I will not share, the first few years of our married life were filled with difficulties big enough to split up many couples. But when I vowed to love and honor Peter, in sickness and in health, for better for worse, I wasn't just making that promise to him, I was vowing it to the Lord, and that is not something that either of us took lightly. (If you want to know what got us through those first few years, read THIS)

Throughout the years, we've made a few "simple" changes that help make our marriage run smoothly. Though not perfect (we are forgiven, yet still struggle with the old sin-nature), we rarely fight, we never stay mad, and we never get tired of each other. Of course, you know the old adage, "never go to bed angry", which is certainly something that we practice and believe in, but it takes more than one rule or practice to make a marriage work. Below are what I like to call, 5 Simple Rules for A Great Marriage.
  1. Never, ever talk about your spouse in a negative way to people outside your marriage. This includes sharing your intimate arguments with friends and family, talking down to your spouse in a group, or spouse-bashing with "the guys" or "girls". (Note: This does not apply to counseling, if you and your spouse are having problems - but I encourage couples to get counseling together, not separately - see #4.)
  2. Let it go - it's not worth clinging to tiny details or being picky about who did what. Over the last 16 years, I have realized that I don't always remember correctly. But more importantly, even if I'm  99% sure my recollection is accurate, it's just not worth fighting over who forgot to put the milk back in the fridge. Most of our arguments start over something silly, so learning to let it go (on both sides) has made life so much easier. 
  3. Hear what's important. How many times do we listen to our spouse, but we don't actually hear (read: take note, file for later, make a change) what's important to them. Our entire married life, Peter has been bothered by the state of the house. Full kitchen sinks, flat surfaces covered with piles, Mt. Vesuvius in the laundry room - these things bothered him, while I didn't notice them until someone was coming over. Late last year, I finally heard him. Now we have a tidier home, and a happier environment.
  4. Be trustworthy - there is nothing that you can't talk to your spouse about. You married them. They've seen you naked, and you've seen them puking their guts out, and smelled them when the words "fresh as a daisy" do not come to mind. You've seen each other at your worst - so talk to one another! There are things that I can tell Peter, that I would never tell anyone else. Make your spouse your one confidant. And on the flip side, be worthy of that confidence. What your spouse tells you never goes beyond you - unless you talk about it first.
  5. Be a team. People get married for various reasons, not all are good. Peter and I got married because we met, became friends, and finally decided it would be fun to hang out together forever. Imagine the best friend you've ever had...now imagine getting to hang out with them, every day, for the rest of your lives. BINGO. That's us. I realize not everyone likes their spouse that much, but that doesn't mean you can't work on it. When you are together, be together. Put the smart phone down, turn off the TV, ask about their day. In essence, date your spouse forever. When you were dating, you might have feigned interest in what they liked...do it again, only this time, don't fake it. Try to understand why it's important to them. Read a book about it, ask questions, engage and interact. In our house, there are no kids, but I believe that it's even more important to maintain your relationship as husband and wife, not just "Mom" and "Dad", when you do have children. Your kids will thank you. At 31 years of age, I'm still thankful when I see my (almost) 72-year-old parents, spending time together and still getting to know one another.   
I have often said that if something were to happen to Peter, I would be lost. It would literally feel like half of me was missing. And yet, because there are three components of our relationship, I could go on. Peter and I are two pieces, and then there is God, who is the glue that holds us together. Without Him and His work in our lives, I wouldn't have had the desire to change in these areas. So here's Rule #6: Invite God into your lives and into your marriage, and everything else will follow.

Is there a "rule" or guideline that has helped in your marriage?
Please share in the comments! 


  1. Fun! David and I got married when we were 18 after knowing each other for three months. People said it wouldn't last and I won't lie, it hasn't always been easy. In April, we'll celebrate 34 years of marriage. We have fun. As much as possible, we try and find the fun and humor in things and we laugh a lot. I love him so much and am so happy we are able to prove all those people wrong who said we'd never make it. :-)

    1. What a great story, Lauri - thanks for sharing!

  2. Great post....and you have always been wise beyond your years :) You all are a beautiful couple... <3
    Christina H :)

  3. My #1 marriage advice to women is as follows: Marry the nice guy. Don't marry the guy who is only nice to you but an a$$hole to everyone else. Don't marry the 'bad boy' who makes you feel dangerous. And don't marry a guy who doesn't put others before himself. It's simple...marry the nice guy!

    It worked for me. We've been together for 12 years and married for over 8 and I can't imagine a more perfect partner. :)

    1. Karen,

      I agree! In fact, I wrote a post about that last year sometime: http://www.carriesbusynothings.com/2011/04/thoughts-on-marriage.html

      Marry the guy who doesn't give you butterflies (at first), but has always been able to make you laugh. :)

  4. We were best friends before he ever proposed... and that makes such a huge difference!
    My advice: laugh together, pray together, work together, and play together. And remember that marriage is not all about you.

  5. Use the magic of goodwill. I mean, stop fighting about whose life is harder or who should do what and all that silliness. Serve! Respect him for the good man he is and the good man he will become!

    1. Great advice, Lori! Serving and realizing that you BOTH work hard is a fantastic leap to make for your marriage (and really, any relationship).

  6. Great post Carrie! I love your "simple" advice and wisdom. It is simple but it isn't always easy. While I have only been married for almost 2 years, we dated for 5 and went through many very tough things in our dating relationship. I often say that since our dating relationship was so hard, marriage has been pretty easy thus far. However, the one thing I would add to your list is to be teachable. I have realized throughout our relationship that neither one of us are perfect but if we are open to learning and have a teachable spirit we can navigate almost anything. We have to be humble enough to be taught by God, by each other, and by trusted friends and family.

    1. Good points, Lauren! Nope, it's not always easy...but after 12+ years, it is actually easier. At least, for us.

      I completely agree with your thoughts on humbling yourselves to learn. Once we realized that we didn't have it all figured out and that we could actually learn from each other, we both started growing in many areas. Now, Peter is my greatest cheerleader, and my best coach. :)

  7. Very well said, and we're married 40 years this year. Humbling ourselves before the Lord and allowing Him to "glue" it all together gives us a the sweetness that wouldn't otherwise be there. Happy Valentines Day to all lovers.

  8. Carrie,

    Terrific words of wisdom!! Wish I understood those things "when I was your age." But God has been gracious, good, and faithful to John and I through nearly 37 years. I was 21, he was 22, and we knew each other under 5 months! Lots of challenges, and many more blessings! God makes all things beautiful!

    If I could give any advice, without sounding anti-Ephesians, here goes: Sometimes it's best to wait 'til the next day to deal with an irritable issue. It's not always possible to get to that place of peace before "the sun goes down." We've learned that most things look a lot different in the light of a new day, with new mercies. One of our daughters said this advice has helped her and her hubby of 9 years immensely.

    Thank you!!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Linda. While I can't say that I agree completely, as long as you work it out quickly (whether it's before sundown or the next day), that's the real issue, isn't it? The problems start when you put it off, day after day after day until it grows from a small irritation, to a much larger issue.

      Congratulations on 37 years - blessings!

    2. Most definitely! I whole heartedly agree with you-it's those unattended to matters that fester and grow into tumors that suck the joy and life out of marriage.

      And thank you! Each anniversary (each day) is a gift from the Lord Himself. I can say with utmost humility that God has blessed us beyond all deserving.

  9. Great post. Congratulations on 13 years of marriage. May you have many more. Great tips. Thanks for sharing them! God bless you both!


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