As my wedding anniversary is right around the corner, I use this time to focus on measuring growth in my marriage. I thought it’d be good to write about specific lessons I’ve learned in my marriage as my post for this week.

Nineteen years as a married couple is a great reason to celebrate! I know it sounds a little “too good to be true”, but I can honestly say that we are in the best place yet in our marriage.

It’s not because we’ve had an easy road that we can say that. To be completely honest, it’s actually because we’ve had a hard road that we can.

These 19 years have been FULL of ups and downs. 3 kids. Many miscarriages. Parenting 10 different foster kids. Adopting one of them. Graduate school. Successes and failures. Leaving careers and starting new ones. Moving across the country. Helping start a church. Starting businesses….the list could go on and on. There are plenty of stressful reasons our story should not be so happy.

Through all of these major stressors in our relationship, there’s been one thing that has carried us though. GROWTH. It’s due to growth that we can both say our marriage is stronger than it’s ever been.

As we celebrate this wedding anniversary, I am intentionally assessing and measuring growth in my marriage. I reflect on how each hurdle we’ve encountered in our marriage has caused us to grow in all of these ways:

Growing in Faith

We are stronger in our faith now than we were 19 years ago. This has truly changed each of us for the better. As we’ve grown in our faith and our relationship with the Lord has deepened, our connection with each other has become healthier and deeper as well.

Having unity in our faith and keeping Christ at the center of our lives as individuals has an incredible ripple effect onto the way we love each other, how we communicate, and what we expect from each other. It’s changed our vision and our priorities which allows us to be partners in so many ways.

Personal growth

The trials we’ve gone through have stretched us. There’s been times we’ve each reached the end of ourselves and hit bottom. Each one of those times has brought growth.

My husband and I value personal growth. We don’t shy from it. We know we are imperfect people and we know that it shows at times. It’s not uncommon for us to process areas for growth personally, in our faith, as parents, and as a couple.

I always like to use a milestone like a wedding anniversary to reflect. To look back and see where we’ve been. Then to look at today and see how far we’ve come. And to look at tomorrow to see where we’re going. This is something I do personally and in our marriage to measure growth.

Growing Together

Sometimes people grow in a relationship, but they end up growing in different directions. Through all our struggles, we easily could have done this. We could have isolated to our own corners and grown as individuals, but not as a couple. This is dangerous and can cause people to grow too far apart in their relationship.

Instead of growing away from each other, we’ve grown together. Our friendship is deeper because we invest time to hang out, talk, lean on each other, have fun, and connect.

A while back my son asked about having a later bedtime and my husband said no and explained why it’s important for he and I to have “Mommy and Daddy time” at night. I loved hearing him protect our time, but I loved the way he described how he looks at our time even more. He said, “It’s like having your best friend over to sit on the couch, hang out, talk, and have snacks each night.” That’s how we look at our time together. We look forward to it and enjoy it. We’ve grown together because of the way we’ve chosen to spend our time together and we set boundaries to protect it.

For our 15 year wedding anniversary, I wrote this article for iMOM that talks about the 15 reasons we’ve made it for 15 years. These are key to how we’ve developed and maintained a healthy relationship.

What has helped your relationship grow?