9 Lessons I’ve Learned In 9 Years Of Marriage

Let me just tell you that when I fell in love with my husband I fell HARD.

Like I lost my mind.

My grades dropped. I barely slept. I couldn’t get enough. I was basically obsessed.

I actually remember praying that I’d stop thinking about him, because I literally couldn’t do ANYTHING ELSE. And I’m sure all my friends were so annoyed. Sorry, friends.

And here we are. 9 years later.

We’ve moved 6 times. Birthed 3 babies. Lost one. Been across the country. Remodeled a house. Had 6 chickens, a dog, a cat, 7 baby kitties, and one fish who refuses to die.

We’ve laughed a lot. Made incredible friends. Challenged each other to grow and change and improve. Been through dark seasons of depression, and we’ve soaked in the joy of incredible blessing.

Our marriage isn’t even close to being perfect. NOT. EVEN. CLOSE.

We actually fight quite a bit. Because we are both pretty passionate people, and have OPPOSITE personalities on almost every level. I am super sensitive and emotional. We’re broken in a lot of ways, immature, too proud, too quick to judge and impose our own perceptions on each other’s behaviors. I get too easily annoyed. He forgets to be gentle. We hurt each other.


Johnny was raised by a single mother (who is amazing!), and I don’t know if I ever saw a thriving marriage up close as a child. We’ve had to unlearn a lot and relearn even more when we got married.

I feel like we should be further along after 9 years.

But we also challenge each other to be better. And we believe in each other so deeply that it’s not even a question. Like…I ACTUALLY BELIEVE my husband can succeed at anything he puts his mind to.

9 years. So many lessons learned.

But here are 9 that stand out…

1. Everyone is annoying sometimes…even you. 

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be shocked to discover that sometimes even YOU can be annoying. Yes. You. It’s God’s way of keeping us humble, and, unfortunately, it seems like God thinks this is a necessary lesson. Go figure.

2. You’ll probably never even remember 95% of your fights because they are so stupid. 

95% of our fights probably wouldn’t happen if we weren’t stressed, hungry, or exhausted.

So, next time you and your spouse find yourselves arguing over who didn’t put the groceries away…stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself if you’re stressed or hungry or tired.

P.S. Sex is a great way to relieve stress. I’m basically convinced that sex, a sandwich, and a nap can solve 95% of my problems with my spouse. He’d agree.

Also. I think it’s totally fine to argue in front of your kids, just not about private matters (use discretion). We have this rule that any squabble we might have, no matter how big or little, in front of our kids, needs to be resolved in front of our kids. Again, use discretion here. Let your kids see how to work through frustration, disappointment, irritation. Let them see you wrestle with the hard things, and then let them see you work it out.

3. Building intimacy takes YEARS and DECADES; intimacy is love that stays. 

I’ve held my strong husband while he weeps. We’ve held each other while blood slips from my body, evidence of a baby that we will never hold or smile at or learn from.

I’ve stood up to my husband when he’s been mean. And he’s done the same to me. Challenging each other to deeper humility, to bigger acts of love, to refuse to settle for average; challenging our own sins and refusing to give the devil a foothold.

Intimacy isn’t just the passionate lovemaking. Its the tears you cry. Its the moments when you laugh so hard you can’t breathe. Its the hand held during worship. Its the fighting through all the nastiness that life WILL throw you. Its the joy and wonder too.

It is the staying.


4. Healing takes time. You need a champion, a cheerleader, someone to spur you on. 

Never, never, never stop believing in the potential God has placed inside your spouse. They will never rise above the level of confidence you have in them.

Read that again.

5. Sometimes…you SHOULD let the sun go down on your anger. 

Anger is an emotion. And some of us feel emotions more strongly than others. If you can choose the action of love even when you don’t feel it, than you can choose the action of reconciliation even when you’re still upset.

This passage of scripture has way more to do with your heart toward your spouse (and others!) than it does with emotion. Don’t give in to bitterness. But also don’t confuse anger with bitterness. They are not the same. One is a feeling, the other is a root.

Remember what I said about 95% of our fights? Most of them don’t even matter.

If you are fighting over something truly big, like the direction of your lives…some times it is honestly best to sleep on it.

We have fasted together. Prayed. Talked and talked.

It’s ok to say, “I’m so upset, but I love you, and our bodies are tired. Let’s talk more tomorrow.”

Kiss. Pray together. Make eye contact. Snuggle if you dare…then sleep and start again with a fresh cup of coffee in your hand.

{If you are stubborn like I am…this will be physically painful to do. To give up your own desires in a moment of high emotion. Do it anyway.}

6. You’re going to NEED friends. 

Johnny and I have three sets of friends that we have both agreed are safe to talk to about about our marriage. These friends have laughed and cried with us. They’ve told us when we are being stupid, or selfish, or when we just need a break from life. They have encouraged us more times than I can count.

We love these people with all of our hearts.

And sometimes, you just do need a third perspective. Or affirmation that what you’re doing is good. Or a kind challenge to treat each other better.

7. Taking care of yourself is often the best way to love your spouse. 

This is really hard for me because I always feel like taking care of myself means $$. You know?

But there are ways.

Eat something good for your body. Take supplements that help you. Shave your legs! Do something good for the inside and the outside of your body.

This is going to look different for everyone. And that is TOTALLY ok.

8. Being married is the hardest AND BEST thing you will ever do.


You are going to have valleys. And you are going to have mountain tops.

The more selfless, the more Christ-centered, the more humble you are…the better your marriage will be.

9. It is ALWAYS the little things. 


About once a week, Johnny and I snuggle up with our kids and watch funny animal videos on YouTube.

Its everything.

We all laugh so stinking hard. And it changes the entire atmosphere of our home in under 5 minutes. I can feel my body relaxing, feel the love.

We’ve never had a lot of extra money. And I’ve found that most people don’t. (At least, not the people I hang out with.)

Laughter really is medicine. It’s joy that our bodies cannot contain.    Laughter is free. So is kindness. So is love.

It doesn’t cost anything to make your spouse a cup of coffee, or to join them in the shower, or to do one of their chores for them, or to brag on them. It doesn’t cost anything to grab their hand and squeeze it tight and whisper something your Grandma probably shouldn’t hear into their ear (use your imagination). It doesn’t cost anything to say, “I believe in you.”

You guys. This life is super hard. And it is also super beautiful. There is brokenness and healing, trauma and blessing, pain and loss, bounty and humor.

Being married means saying, “I’ll stand beside you in it all. Even if it is hard. Even when life is impossible.”

One blog post could never say it all.

Just know that everything comes in seasons, marriage included. And rest in the fact that learning to love well, means walking through refining fire.

It is hard. But it is worth it!

Go and love well!



Published by Alicia Dean

Truth seeker and story-teller.

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