After 20 Years, I Don’t Want A Happy Marriage

This month, my husband Greg and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. Twenty. Add to that the years of friendship before we got married – I’ve known my best friend for 33 years.

Twenty years ago, if you would have told me that we would have four kids, moved 10 times, experienced several job changes, currently living in the the suburbs of Chicago, I would have stared at you in disbelief.

Looking back on our 20-year adventure, I couldn’t have crafted a better story.

No one can claim to have the perfect happy marriage—we certainly don’t. My husband and I are not looking for a happy marriage. We want something much better.

We can claim that we are striving to make our happy marriage better each year. Or perhaps a better way to say that is, better than yesterday.

10 ways we focus on other things than just a happy marriage:

1. Strive for holiness not happiness.

We learned this early on in our marriage after reading Sacred Marriage – that marriage is intended to make us holy, not happy. I am becoming a better Caroline because Greg is my husband and vice versa.

We are not looking for a happily ever after marriage. We want to be able to say “Thank you” to each other at the “until death do us part” stage of our marriage.

2. Choose to love.

I make a choice each day to love my husband.

The “I Do’s” and “I Will’s” last longer than the week after the honeymoon. Because let’s face it, the honeymoon is a frenzy of YES, I CHOOSE YOU 24/7!

3. Date nights.

Date nights are just as important, if not more important than when we were dating.

The frequency of our date nights has changed with our seasons of life while raising kids or job situations, but it is always the first thing on the calendar because we want our kids to realize how important it is to the health of our happy marriage and our family.

Lately, our dates consist of a quiet dinner at our favorite restaurant where the staff greets us by name. They know we like malt vinegar with our fries and that Greg loves to have a warm snickerdoodle cookie for dessert.

Once a month during our date, we ask each other these questions:

  • How are we doing financially?
  • How are we doing spiritually?
  • How are we doing physically?

Keep saying yes

4. Pray together.

Every night, before we go to sleep, we pray.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff, embrace it.

That’s a phrase that’s tossed around a bit. In any relationship, especially in a marriage, it’s really important to let it go because it’s the small stuff that can become increasingly annoying if we let it.

My husband has some quirks. How sometimes he wears a bandana around his leg; how he folds his socks instead of rolling them; his preference of drinking Mountain Dew out of a can instead of a bottle.

And what about all my quirks? How the dishwasher has to be loaded a certain way; the sheet on my side of the bed has to be tucked in; how I’m constantly twirling my hair…

The point is, I could go on and on about the annoying small stuff. Embrace it and laugh about it because the alternative leads to frustrating conversations.

Caroline TeSelle
Caroline TeSelle
Caroline TeSelle is a virtual assistant for writers, and a dream encourager for friends. She writes at with the hope of encouraging you in your marriage, home & friendships. She lives in Chicagoland with her husband and four kids and is generally a rule follower, but enjoys the occasional glass of bourbon. You can also find her on Instagram and Twitter.

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