23 Things I’ve Learned in 23 Years of Marriage

23 things i've learned_thumb


I’ve been married for 23 years and have had children for 22 of those years. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

1. Life on earth passes by very quickly. I feel like I was 18 just a few years ago.
2. Children grow up so fast. Is my oldest daughter really graduating from college this year?
3. There are very few things that I really can control and I’ve spent too much time trying to control too many things.
4. I’ve spent too much time obsessing about things.
5. Marriage takes a lot of hard work.
6. How attracted I am to my wife.
7. Raising young children is physically exhausting, but worth it.
8. Raising teenagers is emotionally exhausting, but worth it.
9. How much joy my children bring me.
10. The importance of honoring my mom and dad.
11. How selfish I am.
12. That I’m just one decision away from doing something really foolish.
13. How dangerous my tongue can be.
14. How impatient I can be.
15. The importance of working for eternal rewards. Rewards on earth aren’t worth much.
16. How to trust God in everything.
17. Nothing else is more important than relationships. If it doesn’t have a heartbeat, it’s ultimately not worth much.
18. Giving my children what they need is more important than giving them what they want.
19. The importance of spending time reflecting.
20. Love and joy are not just feelings, they are decisions.
21. I must overcome evil with good.
22. Marriage is not just about happiness; it’s about holiness.
23. Loving God and loving others should be my greatest desire.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Bonnie Dunson

    So true.  Bonnie

  • Rhonda

    Thanks, your marriage learned should and need to be pass on to  other married couples as well as marriage seminars and let folks know we are only human. We’re not alone.

  • Jon_beth

    Now…. may I live according to  these truths!

  • KaMoo

    Thank you for sharing this.  My wife and I are going through a tough patch right now.  Reading your reflections helped me to understand that I’m not alone in trying to figure this out, and that there good in what I think and feel also.  It’s not all bad.  Ultimately, your reflections reminded me that my family and my marriage are worth all the effort.  Thank you!

  • Smccully

    I am reading this today as my husband and I celebrate 30 years of marriage. I agree wholeheartedly and could add a lot more!’

  • http://www.leadingmenonly.com/ Dr Richard Norris

    If we are not learning we are dying! Relationships are key. The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships.

  • Cpaptogo

    I love the one about the heartbeat so true. Also with teenagers I needed to learn to let go and let GOD.

  • Lisaftorr

    Sounds like you have done alot of self reflecting. Sometimes that is the biggest hurdle. Thank you for your insightful thoughts and honesty.

  • M-factor

    Wow! Deep.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Lisa, you are so welcome…I’m still learning.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill


  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Smccully, please add more…share your thoughts please.

  • IJGoertz

    you pretty much nailed it.  …;-)

  • Shirley Caudill

    At 78 years old and six children later I can tell you all of this is so true. But make every moment count because, although I am older looking on the outside, I still feel young on the inside and cannot believe that life is almost over. Life is but a vapor and is only here for a little while. If I  cold do it all over and know what I know now, I would be sure to make the most of every moment. And love everyone more closely.

  • Bob

    Always carry your children when you have time and when you still can carry them, because there will come a time when you won’t be able to carry them anymore

  • Vickieking2

    Mark, Great thoughts and truths from your marriage.  Would have liked the article more if you had used a photo of you and your wife rather than a “stock” photo of some models.  It would have been a nice touch! Maybe next time,

  • Landpvedolich

    Love this about the value of relationships…have always taught my kids that life is all about people and relationships…that nurturing relationships and loving people as Jesus does makes life worth living and is the key to true success in this world. I’m happy to see my children live by these truths and even share this wisdom with others!

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Vickie, great suggestion. I just replaced the image with one of my wife, Susan, and me. Thanks for your feedback!

  • claire – dublin ireland.

    Congratulations to you and Susan, Mark.. Hope you make the Diamond Milestone like my inlaws next week!!!  Thanks for all the inspiration..

  • Tylerbarb2003

    AMEN! More people need to hear this & reflect!

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Claire, kind of you.  Thanks so much.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Tyler, reflection can be a very good thing.

  • Nimu

    Hello Mark,
    Profound message ” if it doesnt have a heartbeat it isnt worth much”

    Thanks for this

  • Judytallyho

    Words of wisdom. Thank you for sharing. And reminding us that marriage is hard, regardless of the length of the marriage. I too have been married 22 years, 21 of those years with children. So I know exactly what your journey has been. The test of time does not make it any easier, but rather more challenging

  • Watchdog78834

    An older  gentleman in Olympia, Washington told me’ “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the quicker it goes.”

  • https://99dollarlawyer.com/ David DeLugas

    Well said and, in particular, I believe this is a key to a happy life:  “20. Love and joy are not just feelings, they are decisions.”   If we ACT as we wish to feel, then the feelings will follow.  Don’t think so?  Try it. Use the brain, do what is right, then notice how the feelings and desire to do what is right comes along.  Choose to love.  Heck, CHOOSE to quit smoking when you don’t feel like doing so, then watch as later when you are not smoking as a matter of choice, the desire to not smoke caught up to you!!  Great words, Mark!  I mean the entire list!

  • Cyndipetroff

    I wish marriage wasn’t so difficult (as much as mine any way).  It steals my joy as a wife and mother as my husband isn’t setting a good example to our children and how it will effect them as adults in choosing a spouse and how they treat their spouse.  Praying for a miracle in 2013…