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Lessons Learned in 11 Years of Marriage

After being married for 11 years, here are 11 life-changing lessons I learned in marriage.

  1. Jesus must be center of marriage.

When Thammie and I say Jesus is center of our marriage – it is not some bumper sticker or motto we have in our marriage – it is our lifeline. Through the past decade of our married life – we have experienced so many mistakes and fights but by God’s grace – we have decided early on in our marriage that Jesus must be front and center of this marriage.

Our marriage will not be Dennis-centered or Thammie-centered or children-centered or minsitry-centered. It will be Christ-centered. Where there days it was not Christ-centered? Of course there were days it wasn’t but we still have 10 more lessons we have learned through the years that kept us on track on lesson number one.

2. Sorry is such a loving word.

We daily say I love you to each other but nothing is more sweeter when one of us would say sorry for things we did to each other that hurt our feelings and our relationship.

Sorry must be something couple should get used to saying. Married couples would have fights – it is learning how to fight clean and right can issues be resolved.

3. AppreciationĀ must be higher than your expectations.

Something happens to a lot of couple when they say I do on wedding day. Most of their desires become expectations. Dreams you were talking about during our dating days are now requirements to feel happy and fulfilled in marriage.

One of the things that is often forgotten in marriage is appreciation. We must daily appreciate each other. If we learn to see with eyes of gratefulness – there are hundreds of things to appreciate with our spouse.

4. Date Nights are Sacred Nights

I have to learn this the hard way. I notice a lot of times in our marriage – when we compromise our date nights we both get jumpy and irritated after a while. I then realized that it was because there are so many things running in our minds that we haven’t discussed as a couple. Issues that would range from trivial stuff like schedules for the month and big stuff like how is marriage?

Date nights give us the face time we need from each other. Treat date nights with sacredness and try not missing it. It is a marriage saver.

5. Leave and Cleave

This is definitely in the top five lessons I learned early in our marriage. As the husband, I needed to leave my parents and cleave to my spouse. Leaving and cleaving signifies a change in loyalty. It means my loyalty is now to my spouse and not my parents. It doesn’t mean I love my parents less – but I just need to know that I will be accountable to God for my marriage while my dad will be accountable to his marriage to my mom.

PS: Same applies to the women.

6. The importance of friendship in marriage.

The goal of every married couple is not just to stay married forever but rather to be married friends till death do us part. We have seen couples who have grown old together but act like strangers or enemies. Because friendship was not developed in their years of marriage – now that they are empty nesters – they don’t know how to relate to each other.

Be married friends. Look and treat your spouse as your best friend.

7. It takes more than chemistry – connection is more important.

When I was courting Thammie – I felt the chemistry. But when couples get married – life starts to happen.

Kids happen. Bills happen. Work happens.

Chemistry won’t hold the marriage together. Finding the time to connect whether it is through shared activities, coffee time with your spouse or going on a vacation as a couple is so important to keep our marriages healthy.

When Thammie and I decided to celebrate our 7th anniversary in Korea – leaving the kids to our in laws, we had the time of our life. Personally, our trip to Korea is a highlight for me up until now. It was in our time together that we get to enjoy ourselves and act as young couples again.

Connect with your spouse. Connecting does not require expensive vacations. It just requires commitment to connect.

8. Friends to shape and help our marriage.

You need community to make marriage work. It can’t just be the two of you against the world. It can’t be just the two of you solving your marriage issues. Why? Because most of the time – the two of you are the problem why there are issues in your marriage.

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You need godly friends to push you to work out your marriage. You need godly couples to emulate and inspire you to work on your marriage. You need friends to just hang out and chill after longs days parenting your kids and paying the bills.

Note to Thammie:

Thammie, thanks for loving me this past 11 years. Thank you for being the best wife a man could ever ask for. You are my one and only. Love you bestie and pangga!

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