11 Things We’ve Learned in 11 Years of Marriage

11 pieces of marriage advice

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Today Philip and I are celebrating our eleven year anniversary! I don’t talk about him that much here on the blog, but today I made him sit down with me and come up with eleven things we’ve learned in the last eleven years of marriage.

Not to say our marriage is perfect by any means, or that we’re perfect at any of these, but eleven years has helped us learn what really matters and what we should focus our energy on.

  1. Support each other’s dreams. My mom has always talked about the “wet blanket.” It’s the analogy of someone snuffing out any fire or excitement in one fell swoop. Don’t be that for your spouse. Philip is so good at this, and constantly pushes me to do what I want to do in my business, and I love and appreciate him so much for that.
  2. Listen to each other. I’m not the best listener, but Philip is a really good listener and always remembers little things I’ve said about the most random things.
  3. Work as a team. As parents, this one is especially important. We never pit each other against each other, and we never let our kids do it to us.
  4. Do little things for each other. little things like bringing flowers home, giving foot rubs or back massages, or sending a little text during the day are things that sometime fall through the cracks over time. Make sure they stay important!
  5. Set expectations. I read an article earlier this year that the biggest cause of divorce was unmet expectations. Everything from money, to who takes out the trash, to where you go for Christmas, to literally every aspect of your life can become a fight if expectations are not set and/or met. So make your expectations clear by vocalizing them! If you want flowers for your birthday every year, tell your husband!! Don’t get mad when he doesn’t show up with them because he didn’t read your mind.
  6. Make time for each other. Since I work from home, it’s really easy for work to take over my entire life. I used to work at night when the kids went to bed, but that meant I never had really quality one on one time with Philip. So I had my babysitter come an extra day each week, and make a huge effort to get everything done during my work time so evenings are now completely free. We can talk, watch a show, cuddle on the couch, or make out 😉 It makes such a difference in our needs being met!
  7. Couples trips are important. We did this for the first time when our second baby was one year old and had stopped breastfeeding, and we’ve done it at least once a year since then. We feel really blessed to have parents who are willing to come stay with our kids for the weekend (or my mom who came for 10 days last summer)! Getting away from home without your kids is so good for your relationship and your mental and emotional well being. If you can’t get out of town, find a babysitter you trust (I shared how we found ours here!) and do regular date nights!
  8. Don’t take yourself too seriously. For years after we got married, I had a bad habit of getting bugged when Philip acted immature. I thought I was so mature. But I’ve learned that being silly and crazy is what keeps us young! It’s so fun to be crazy and silly sometimes, and not take yourself so seriously.
  9. Find a hobby you can do together. As we get older and our lives get busier, and more kids are added to our mix, it’s easy to get buried in all of that and forget what you and your spouse have in common. Find something to do together, even as you get older — traveling, reading books, museums, sports, concerts, trying out new restaurants, hiking….the possibilities are endless. Find something you’re both interested in and stick with it to nurture your relationship!
  10. Ignore the small stuff. There will always be annoying things that your spouse does, and if you notice and get frustrated over every one, you’ll spend so much of your life frustrated. It’s NOT worth it. It takes two seconds to pick the socks up off the floor, so just do it and forget about it!
  11. Just say sorry. This is probably the hardest one. But it’s also probably the most important. I came from a family that typically said sorry and moved on. Philip comes from a family where everyone ignored what happened and moved on. So I need him to say sorry for it to feel resolved, and at the beginning of our marriage he didn’t feel that need, or the need to say it. It goes back to expectations. You as a couple have to decide what works best for your relationship, and we’ve figured it out for ours. We’re certainly not perfect, but typically just saying the words “I’m sorry” is the best beginning of the healing process.

We’d love to hear your best marriage advice! Leave us a comment!



  1. Diana says:

    My husband and I have been married just over 3 years,…and have a LONg way to go!

    The best advice I’ve seen work in my marriage has been to not go to sleep angry. My parents had a sign above thier bed when I was growing up that read “always kiss me goodnight”. My husband and I have tried to stick to this mantra as well, even if it mens that we staty up until 2am sorting out whatever GRIEVANCE we may have with each other. That when we finally kiss goodnight, we do so meaning it not just going through the motions.

    Thanks for your tips! Love them!

  2. Laura says:

    happy anniversary! and what a lovely post:-) xx

  3. Cyndy Fairbanks says:

    Oh i love this article!!!! Wanted to share one of my favorite marriagE tips. Choose yOur words carefully. My parents divorced when i was young. I asked my mom one day if she thought there was a chance that She and my dad could ever get back togethEr. I will neVer forget her response. She said “there have been too many hurtful things that have been said that cant be taken bAck or forgotten”. We decided early to never threaten divorce. Also to neVer call each other names. To really try our hardest to use respectful words and Tones. Thanks again merrick for such a great aRticle!!

  4. Bart says:

    Totally agree with all of these, especially setting and re-setting expectations over time. Janssen and I were just talking with your mom about how we need to be better about getting away together – you guys are good examples for us!

  5. Mickie says:

    Great tips! Especially the don’t sweat the small stuff (cough* cough* like how mY husband has to get every last bit of his yogurt and scrapes the Plastic cup with his spoon Forever to make sure he got it all… i’m laughing just THINKING about this sound)

    My advice is always the “I’m fine” rule. If you ask, or are asked, “is there something wrong?” Or “Are you okay?” And the response is, “i’m fine.” Then That is the answer, period. if that is NOT the answer, that must be communicated with something Like, “i am upset, Do you have a minite to talk?,” or “i am not okay, but I am working on it, check back in with me in a bit and I will be more ready to discuss what I am feeling.” It is so much easier to help/change/understand/Empathize with your spouse when these things are actually communicateD rather than ignored and brought up who knows how long later.

    Also, bottom line is, your spouse is your number oNe best friend. ALWAYS assume they love you and what they did wasn’t because they intentionally wanted to hurt you. It’s Better to go into conflict together than on the offensive or defensive. Where love is number one, it’s usually a misundrstanding. It’s saved many an argument in our marriage 🙂

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