I finally feel comfortable talking about marriage, family and relationships. I now feel that I have enough time under my proverbial belt in this thing called marriage to begin sharing “how we do it” with others. Today Tony and I are celebrating 31 years of marriage! We’ve raised four children and have loved and laughed and lived for over 3 decades and as I reflect on the journey thus far, there are some things that I now know for sure.

FRIENDSHIP: It’s true . . . you’ve got to be friends with your spouse. Bottom line, you are more likely to stay with someone that you love to be around! Tony is my friend. He knows me better and better each day (as I know him better daily) and I love being around him. Wherever you are in your relationship right now, pivot towards friendship. It’ll help you in the long run.

FAMILY: Creating a family that loves one another is vital for your life success. Over the years raising our children together has been THE most important thing that either of us have ever done. I have held on to this statement by Andy Stanley for years: “The greatest contribution is someone you raise not something you do!” Our marriage has helped support a strong robust family unit. Be sure to develop a strong family by using your marriage as an example to your children on how to live and love.

FIDELITY: You’ve got to have loyalty and support. You’ve got to give your continued faithfulness to your spouse. It is critical for a robust marriage. There were many times and many places along the way where Tony and I could have derailed, but being committed to one another in the long run saved us from breaking up our home (and breaking our hearts). But it’s not enough to just be there with one another, fidelity helps you to WANT to be there with one another for a lifetime. Be faithful. Be committed. Be loyal to one another in your relationship. A broken home leads to a broken heart and there are too many broken hearts in the world today.

FINANCES: Money matters. It is the tool that we’ve used to build our lives together. And we talked about it daily. Two becoming one isn’t just a “thing” that you say at the altar, it’s a process, a life-long process. And the two of us came into our marriage with VERY different perspectives and views about money. I thought it should be spent, Tony thought it should be saved. Whoa! Needless to say our money talks were very, very tough for a very, very long time. But eventually by learning how to communicate better and better about finances, we are finally at a financial place that is fantastic. In your relationship, talk about money a lot with the goal of getting on the same page. Then build wealth together.

FAITH: We would not be together if we didn’t each have a personal relationship with the Lord. There were many years when the only reason we stayed together was because of our commitment to Christ. Those weren’t the best years, but they kept us until we could figure out how to be happy together. Having faith in God IS the reason for our 31 years together. When we couldn’t, God could. When we didn’t want it, God did. When we were broken, God fixed us. When we couldn’t see a way, God showed us the way. I know everyone doesn’t believe like we do, but for us, there is no other belief, philosophy, strategy, concept, idea or plan that works. Faith in God period. For you, consider bringing God into your marriage, for real, to see what your relationship could become with His help!

Well, we still have a long, beautiful road ahead of us and I can’t wait to see what life together will bring—that I know for sure!