30 Things I Learned During the First 30 Years of Marriage

Thirty Years ago today I got married. It was the best decision of my life.

I had no idea on that day how much I needed to grow. As we celebrate today, I find myself reflecting on at least 30 things I have learned. They apply to my life and leadership every day. Hopefully they will encourage you as you lead and love both at work and at home.

  1. Two really are better than one.
  2. Forgiveness leads to freedom.
  3. Servant leadership is the highest form of leadership.
  4. Delayed gratification builds wealth.
  5. The goal of conflict is unity not victory. Someone once said, “If you win every argument with your spouse, you are sleeping with a loser.” Great marriages are about togetherness, not competition.
  6. The level of sacrifice is a reflection of one’s heart.
  7. Laughter leads to longevity.
  8. Every day is a chance to be grateful.
  9. Diversity is an opportunity to grow. Women are amazingly unique!
  10. Every marriage faces the same challenges. There are 4 or 5 that keep coming up. Time, money, sex, and kids, are near the top of the list. Organizations and teams also have common challenges. Leadership, talent, alignment, engagement, resources, and execution to name a few. Knowing what you are up against will position you for success.
  11. Communication leads to connection. Once you know what you are up against (see #10) the best thing you can do is talk about it … and don’t just talk. Listen!
  12. Money matters. Steward it wisely!
  13. Harsh never helps, and you’re never persuasive when you’re abrasive.
  14. When you find yourself trying to fix someone, you are most likely the one who is broken.
  15. You can’t pay upper deck prices for a box seat marriage.
  16. Generosity leads to generosity. Watching my wife give to others makes me want to give more.
  17. Selfishness is a barrier to intimacy.
  18. Humility is a pathway to intimacy.
  19. A great marriage requires hard work.
  20. Living with a woman is a gift to be cherished.
  21. Raising four daughters with a woman will grow your prayer life.
  22. You can be somewhere without being fully present.
  23. Love is the most powerful word in the world.
  24. Love never fails.
  25. Non-negotiables narrow the options and bring clarity. On our wedding day we committed to be together for life. In fact, we removed the D-word from our vocabulary. It has never been used in our home. I tell Laura all the time that if she ever leaves me I’m going with her. Staying together is a non-negotiable.
  26. Alignment on the front end leads to alignment down the road.
  27. Shared values are stronger than therapy.
  28. Endurance is a reflection of commitment.
  29. Marriage is a gift.
  30. Time flies. Emerson said, “The years tell a story the days never knew.” He was right!

Here’s to 30 more years of learning and love!
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