In Marriage, Never Stop Learning


I would never have guessed this, but I’ve been learning some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my marriage over the last few years. I figured that I would have done most of my learning in the early years of marriage or in the middle years when we were in the thick of raising our kids. On paper, those would seem to be the big growing and stretching times. And they definitely were times of growing and stretching as I learned how to be a loving husband and father. During those days, I was anticipating that once we made it past those parts of our marriage, things would be pretty relaxed. 

Thankfully, it’s not really in my nature to settle or to coast. When things show up, I prefer to address them rather than trying to sweep them under the rug. And during the past several years of my marriage, I’ve been surprised at how many things have shown up! Even when I expected that most of my growth areas or blind spots were behind me, new things pop up and I am continually learning a lot more about how to love Jane well. And this has also been a process of me needing to surrender some of the things that I really don’t want to surrender. 

I’ve got some habits that I’ve been building for 40+ years. As I’m sure you can imagine, changing those is very challenging! But as I do, guess who benefits? Both Jane and I benefit individually, and our relationship benefits as well. So, here’s my challenge for those of you who have been married a while: Do not stop growing. Do not stop surrendering. Do not stop looking for new ways to develop depth in your relationship! 

When we do that, we’re setting a great example for those who are coming behind us. When our kids and grandkids see that we’re working on things in our lives and our marriages, we have a lot more credibility when we’re asking them to do the same thing in their own lives. I know that in my home growing up, there was often the mentality of, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Well, my brother and I found that frustrating and confusing. And I definitely haven’t done this perfectly, but I’ve worked to break this trend in my family. I tried to set the example that I wanted them to follow and to live up to the standards and expectations that I had for them. 

When we go first and set the example as the older generation, it becomes a whole lot easier to pass our values down to our kids and grandkids. Because they see us working to live them out, so they actually believe that these are our values and our priorities. And those kinds of things are a whole lot more likely to “stick” when it comes to their own habits and practices. 

When we show that we are committed to continual growth–even when it’s hard–we’re setting the coming generations up to follow our lead and to be winning more often at home.