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Mawage: What We Think We’ve Learned

better living faith family marriage Jun 01, 2024
marriage: what we think we've learned

5 minute read
by Jason and Bethany Rees

“Mawage is wot bwings us together today”

This week, we will be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary, 27 years in total of being together. I (Bethany) was 19 and Jason was 21 when we said our "I dos." 

Marriage is an exhilarating roller coaster ride through many ups and downs throughout many seasons, and we've grown a lot as individuals and as a married couple over the years. 

But no matter what part of the ride we’re on or what season we’re in, we’ve always learned a lesson that made us stronger as marriage partners. 

Here's our anniversary post sharing our lessons learned over the years...  

24 Things We've Learned from 24 Years of Marriage 

  1. Faith - Put God first and pray for your spouse. Understand you and your spouse may or may not be of the same “spiritual” maturity.
  2. Trust - Beware of the slippery slope! Don't build close relationships with people of the opposite sex. Thanks Bro. James Forlines for giving us this advice in pre-marital counseling and saving us years of possible trust issues. 
  3. Realistic Expectations - The Honeymoon is really over when the honeymoon is over. Accept the fact that you are not “playing house” or living in a “romantic Lifetime movie” and move on. 
  4. Feelings vs Choices - Love is not a feeling but an act of will. Be committed to choose to love your spouse even when you don't like them…and there will be plenty of times that you don’t like them. 
  5. Respect - Speaking of not liking your spouse at one point or another, never bad mouth them to others. Always honor and respect your spouse. 
  6. Diversity - Chances are you married someone who is the complete opposite of you. Love your spouse for who they are, not who you would like for them to be. Learn your spouse's love language (how they communicate love) and stop trying to change each other. 
  7. Mentors - Look for Married Couple Mentors because more is caught than taught. We are so thankful to have such wonderful “still married” parents and Christian friends who set great examples of a godly marriage.
  8. Finances - Build Financial Peace in your marriage. Despite the amount of money you make as a family, live within your means. Thanks Dave Ramsey! (Our theme song)
  9. LUV Talk – Listen, Understand, and Validate each other when having a conversation/fight. 
  10. Altruism – Don't be selfish! Serve and care for the needs of your spouse before your own. 
  11. Humor – Be willing to laugh at one another with each other...because let's face it, the opportunities are endless. 
  12. Parenting – Be on the same page...or at least in the same book. 
  13. Vision, Mission, & Values - Create a family constitution because as Seth Godin says, “people like us do things like this.” The conversations you have while discussing family values, vision/mission/goals, and traditions are priceless. 
  14. Romance - embrace the season you are in… (Our theme song)
    1. 2000 - 2005 - No kids! We had a ton of fun together!
    2. 2005 - 2014 – Who are we kidding, we are the parents of small children. Consider sending your kids to the grandparents for a week so you can cram as much romance into that one week as possible. 
    3. 2015-2020 - Dang our kids are busy! At some point you will feel like business partners that talk about budgets and schedules more than romantic partners talking about your feelings.
    4. 2021-2024 - We are parents of older children. One is in high school and the other is out and joining the we’ve started dating again. So much fun!
  15. Play - Learn to play together. Because who else is going to play with you when you're old and crotchety.
  16. Work/Life Harmony - Seek harmony because there is no such thing as balance. Everything ebbs and flows and you’ll begin to notice seasons in your life. Embrace each season. 
  17. Tag Team Life - When one spouse is going through a very stressful or hard season, they need to be honest with the other spouse by reaching out a hand and tagging them into the ring to help wrestle all the demands of life.
  18. Quality Time - Being stuck at home during a pandemic wasn’t all bad. It turns out that quality time without distractions is a good thing. We found out that we still like each other and can make each other laugh. 
  19. Affirmation and Validation - Yeah, um, stop seeking these from your spouse….it is meant to come from God alone. Grow closer to God as individuals, and be amazed at how you grow closer to each other together. 
  20. Mirroring - Oh my gosh, I’ve turned into my spouse. After two plus decades of being together we are becoming more like each other. 
  21. Comparison – Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t compare your relationship, your children, or your life to others.
  22. Minimalism – Simplify life to what is important and let the rest go. As Joshua Becker says “We were created to live for pursuits greater than comfort, luxury, and competition. We were created to trade our lives UP, not down.
  23. Finishing Sentences - We are finally finishing each other’s sentences. Not because it’s cute and loving though, but because it’s out of necessity. We’re in our mid-forties and we can’t remember our own stories, the punchlines to our jokes, or the song lyrics to what we want to sing, etc. 
  24. Time Marches On - With each new season comes a different focus on how to spend our resources (time, money, affection). We've entered a new season of having an adult child, aging parents, and our own sore joints. Our work doesn’t drive our decisions like it used to. Therefore, we made decisions to move closer to our family, give away our time and resources more generously, and to live more simply while we give thanks to God for all of His blessings. Our theme song for this new season. 


Know Better. Do Better. Live Better. Work in Your Marriage.


“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” ~1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” ~Ephesians 5:33

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1: 2-4 The Message

Theme Song: 

Brett Eldredge - Hideaway 

References Used, Books We’ve Read, Programs We’ve Done: 

  • The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  &  The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson
    • Note: We each do our own personal bible studies early in the morning. If we are not in a bible study with printed materials, we are finding bible studies on the Bible App by YouVersion. 
  • Awesome Movies - Fireproof and Courageous - Christian based movies that really drive some major important points home. Click by Adam Sandler - Don't wish your life away. 
  • Freedom (Bible Study) - Amazing experience that helps you individually build a relationship with God based on the “Tree of Life” and not the “Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil.” Helps you leave all of your trauma and baggage at the cross so you are free to live the abundant life. 
  • Experiencing God (Bible Study) - Helped us build a stronger relationship with God to know His will and to join Him in His work. 
  • The 5 Love Languages (Bible Study) - Helped us learn that we give and expect love in various forms. Jason’t love language is service and mine is words of affirmation. Learning this allowed us to stop expecting affection and love in only our preferred way but to notice it in many ways. 
  • Financial Peace Book & FPU Program, and the Legacy Journey by Dave Ramsey - This totally changed our finances and helped us get out of debt early in our marriage. I’m positive that having a debt-free household has saved us a ton of fights. 
  • Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family Book by Patrick Lencioni - We have developed a family constitution with a vision and mission statement and core values. This anchors us in how we live, parent, and disciple. We have a yearly family retreat where we talk about who we are as a family and what our individual goals are. It is AWESOME. 
  • Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Granny, McMillan, & Switzler - Amazing book that helped us realize that we didn’t communicate clearly, we told ourselves stories, and did not know how to have dialogue. We have MUCH BETTER conversations now. 
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Book by Stephen Covey - Great book that gave us phrases to use: Keep the main thing the main thing, 
  • The More of Less and Clutterfree with Kids Books by Joshua Becker - Helped us realize we were giving our time, attention, and money to things of lesser value. We have worked to become minimalists and are much happier for it. 
  • Essentialism & Effortless Books by Greg McKeown - Helped us learn to focus only on what is essential in our lives so we can work on the right things at the right times for the right reasons. We no longer feel guilt for how we spend our time, attention, and money. 
  • Akimbo Podcast by Seth Godin - Short podcasts with tons of nuggets of wisdom. This gave us the phrase “people like us do things like this.” 
  • The Power of a Praying Wife Book by Stormie Omartian (Bethany read) - Helped me know how to love and pray for Jason. Really humbled me in that it turned my anxious thoughts from thoughts into prayers. 



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