30years_sToday, John and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary. I know. I’m just as shocked as you. We look so good. Marriage at 10 and 11 years old isn’t easy.

I asked my husband for his input on having a successful marriage. He said, and I quote:

  1. Marry a smokin’ hot woman.

Then I told him to get serious. So, here’s our best marital advice we’d give to our own six kids, desiring that they too pursue lifelong, selfless marriages that honor Christ. Keep in mind, we’re still a work in progress.

Thirty Tips for a Selfless Marriage:

  1. Take all to the Lord. Don’t expect your spouse to meet your every need.
  2. Continually change. Have a lifelong mindset of seeking the Holy Spirit to identify and weed out sin so that you love well.
  3. Serve. Focus on others. If you’re getting a drink, get one for your spouse.
  4. Forgive quickly. Even if the other didn’t ask. That same day. Leave no room for bitterness. “Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath.”
  5. Ask forgiveness. Intentionally get faster with the time lapse between offending and apologizing.
  6. Own your part of the problem. Do say: “I know I was wrong for…” “I realize I hurt you when I…” “Will you forgiveme for..?”  Don’t say: “I’m sorry you felt…” or “I didn’t mean to, but you…”  Words are verbal evidence of either pride or humility. OWN your part. Avoid using “but.”
  7. Forget it. Don’t bring up the past. Don’t keep score, tally marks, or a record of wrongs.
  8. Recognize & put an end to hurtful habits. Sulking, the silent treatment, walking out, slamming doors, “I was only joking.” “Fine. Whatever.” Cease the passive aggressive behavior and communicate respectfully.
  9. Welcome input. Even ASK for it. “What blind spots do I have?” “How can I improve my …?” “How do I drive people crazy?” Defensiveness means you’re not truly teachable. This one thing could dramatically improve your life, marriage, and all relationships.
  10. Express needs. Don’t drop hints. Don’t assume the other can read your mind. “Would you rub my back?” not, “My back hurts.”
  11. Navigate together through honest communication. It’s not helpful to answer, “Nothing” when asked, “What’s wrong?” Or yell, “Get out of here!!” when what you really want is to be held tightly and just heard. Recognize the beauty of learning to understand each other.
  12. Adjust the tone. “Am I the only one who sees the dirty dishes!” is better said as, “Honey, would you give me a hand with the dishes?”
  13. Avoid NEVER, EVERY, and ALWAYS. You never listen to me! You always leave your socks out. You always want everything to be perfect. These are exaggerations and cause drama. Stop.
  14. Practice self-control. Filter first. “Is what I’m about to say or do ‘kind, truthful, encouraging, and necessary’?” Allow self-control to radically soften you!
  15. Don’t compete. Stop trying to win who did better or more. That’s exhausting.
  16. Share the load. Of laundry…and in life. Don’t draw a line down the middle and do only “your” part. Selfish.
  17. Lighten the load. Be intentional. “What can I do to help you today?” Selfless.
  18. Don’t compare. Your discontentment could communicate disrespect and disappointment of spouse, provisions, and even character.
  19. Study spouse. Be intentional to observe and appreciate the details that make your spouse unique. Use this data to bless.
  20. Speak their love language. What means the most to your spouse?  Quality time, encouraging words, acts of service, physical touch, or receiving gifts? Express love in their language not yours! (Take this Five Love Languages Profile.)
  21. Adjust perspective. Picture your marriage and the situation that is frustrating to you as an opportunity to reflect Christ as you “die to self.”
  22. Support dreams and passions. Talk deeply. Ask questions. Listen intently for the heart, dreams, passions, interests, and giftings. Provide opportunities for growth in these areas. Don’t be a dream buster.
  23. Encourage. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Build up; don’t tear down. Be the Number One Fan.
  24. Pray. Pray for. Pray together. Pray to be a blessing. Pray for concerns of the heart.
  25. Have depth. Let those walls down. Be transparent. Be vulnerable. Share below the surface and reveal your heart.
  26. Keep confidences. The best way to be trustworthy is to be trustworthy. Does his heart safely trust in you?
  27. Call spouse first. Good news, success, dilemma, disappointments, heartaches. Tell spouse first.
  28. Praise in public; Reprimand in private. Nuff said.
  29. Guard heart. Give no place in your heart for emotional needs to be discussed with and met by another.
  30. Don’t hide. Have an automatic red flag, catching any plot in your mind to “hide” an action. Partial truths, new purchases, computer screen, phone messages, your whereabouts.

One final, super important tip for marriage. (I know… technically this makes it 31. Stop judging.)

Leave and cleave. Spouse over Mama. However, your Mama should never be disrespected to your spouse, either. And moms… stop controlling. :)

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  I Corinthians 14:4-7 (NKJV)


Thirty years later. Love this man.

And, I didn’t even address laughing, regular date nights, . . . Share your tips.

Rhonda sorryaboutlyingintheintro ellis

  1. Jeanne

    I love all of these. All are so important in relationships no matter how many years you have been married. There are two things (among many more) that we as a couple try to do – Accept instead of Expect because expectations kill relationships. And then Respond and not React which is so hard to do sometimes. These are words of wisdom from Charles Winge. I believe these are covered in your 30 but maybe not in these exact words. Thank you for sharing your heart and your lives.

    • I LOVE THESE. I might have to change it to 32 tips. Thank you for sharing, Jeanne. And, you know how I feel about Charles Winge. A mentor to many of us!

  2. Mel

    Thank you for passing along!

  3. Monique

    What a great post – couldn’t agree more. Happy 30th!!
    We just celebrated our 45th, and it is the very things you wrote about that make such a difference in a good marriage.

    • Congratulations on 45 years. That is incredible.

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