Things I’ve learned in 12 Years of Marriage

by Shalice Noel

Reid and I celebrated 12 years of marriage on Sunday.  Every anniversary I like to reflect back on God’s faithfulness to us.  We’ve lived in 3 cities, had 5 kids, countless disagreements, joyous date nights, lame day nights and more challenges than I can count, pale in comparison to the many blessings, and days and nights with my best friend.  A good marriage is like tending to a garden, it needs a lot of care, weeding, hedging, and planning. I can relate keenly to this because our back yard after kids is pretty sad and neglected but I don’t have time to tend to it. And you can tell. A good marriage like a beautiful garden doesn’t just grow, it is “tended to,” lovingly protected from predators like bugs and weeds. Read honest marriage tips we’ve learned by experience in 12 years:

Tip #1:

Spouses can’t read minds. Coffee in bed was always my marriage dream and I used to have an expectation that he’d bring me coffee in bed as the morning birds were chirping outside my bedroom window.  Well…He didn’t bring me my coffee without me asking for it first and wow did I get upset.  Kind of a pathetic thing to get upset about, so skip the fight and just ask nicely.

Tip #2:

While I want coffee, Reid wants to workout in the AM. Team work is about compromise. Let you spouse do what they enjoy and he’ll let you do what you want to do.  Find out what makes him tick, what makes his day?

Tip #3

Put his needs before yours. This takes God’s help, I don’t naturally do this.

Tip #4

Put the cap back on the toothpaste and don’t yell at him if he doesn’t.  But never leave toothpaste in the drain.  That I can’t get over.  Just don’t do it.  No excuses.

Tip #5

Take one day at a time, don’t feel like you have to tackle all the marriage goals in one day.

Tip #6

Marriage always takes priorities over kids. Reid and I put each other over the kids.

How we met: Not many of you know, but Reid and I met in a Bible study downtown Chicago. It was a great place to meet and observe each other without going out right away. I encourage our kids when of the age to seek this kind of wholesome group in which to meet a possible spouse.

I went to coffee with another guy before Reid and he had so many red flags, I told him, let’s stay friends, I’m not interested in moving forward. That wasn’t an easy conversation to have, however, I wasn’t going to allow my heart to lead before my head. I would rather wait for the right one than settle and be unhappy the rest of my life. Girls, it’s ok to have a list of things you would like in a spouse, only have a friend keep you accountable on your list for yourself. We can’t be waiting on near perfection if we aren’t working on ourselves in the meantime. Also, it’s ok to note red flags. THEY SERVE TO PROTECT YOU.

That leads me to the question, how did you know he was “the one?” I get asked that a lot on Instagram when I show Reid or mention our relationship. I’ll start by saying I don’t believe in a magical formula, but I do believe in counsel and prayer. Ask your parents about this person, or a mentor, or someone older than you what they think. Ask them if they think you’re compatible. If that sounds old fashioned, call me old fashioned. It’s only your WHOLE life that you are promising to be with this person in marriage. That’s quite a commitment. I prayed a lot for closed doors if Reid and I were not meant to get married, after all, I wanted this to be a blessed union, despite how sexy he was or his job title.

In the beginning, we fought a ton about stupid things. It’s normal. Some of them included, If we should sign up for Sprint or Verizon, should we keep or toss a dozen spools of ribbon from our wedding, cheap date nights vs splurge date nights, and I can’t remember more but believe me, there was more! Now, we laugh about it!

Now 12 years in and I love him more than ever. 

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