May 10, 2013 Tony Morgan

10 Politically Incorrect Reasons Why We’re Still Married

Tony & Emily MorganEmily and I celebrated our anniversary a week early this year. We just returned from an all-inclusive resort in Cancun. We’ve been married for 22 years. We started dating about six years before that. We were friends for about three years before that. In other words, we’ve been together a long time.

I’m learning time really doesn’t matter. I’ve had friends who have been together for longer than us and found themselves in a marriage mess. Fortunately, we have a God that forgives and reconciles and promises hope. Since that’s not our story, though, I’m not the best person to write that article.

What I can write about is the intentionality Emily and I have embraced to be friends for over 30 years and married for as long as we have. Some of this advice is pretty unpopular in today’s world. Some of it is politically incorrect in secular circles or taboo in Christian circles. Honestly, I don’t care. I’ve seen too many marriages blow up to hold back. With that in mind, here are…

10 Politically Incorrect Reasons Why We’re Still Married

  1. We put our spouse’s needs ahead of our own needs. From what we’ve learned, our basic needs are different from each other. The book His Needs, Her Needs is a great book to begin this conversation.

  2. We’ve made our physical appearance a priority. Neither one of us would admit to being “10s” by any stretch of the imagination, but we want to look sexy for each other. We work at it. That includes eating right, exercise, clothes, hair, etc. For example, Emily and I have made a pact — she decides what my hair looks like, and I decide what her hair looks like. Again, we prioritize the needs of our spouse.

  3. We’ve embraced traditional roles. I work outside the home, and Emily works inside the home. Does that mean we’re against couples who try to juggle two jobs outside the home? Absolutely not. For Emily, though, she gains significance through being a great wife, mother and home manager. That’s a full-time job. Since she owns that role, it relieves quite a bit of stress that we know other couples have to navigate.

  4. We prioritize our marriage over our careers. To do this, we have a tight budget. We spend less than we make. We avoid debt. We do this so we can live on one income. We do this so we can invest in time away like our recent trip to Cancun. We say no to overcommitment in our careers, so we can enjoy regular time together.

  5. We prioritize our marriage over our children. We have four beautiful kids, but they will eventually grow up and leave. My relationship and friendship with Emily is more important. Ironically, when we put our marriage relationship first, our kids feel loved and more secure. This is one of the reasons why we are strict about limiting the activities our kids engage outside of school.

  6. We didn’t have sex before marriage. We didn’t live together. We dated for six years before we got married. I can assure you, we wanted to have sex before marriage. Again, God forgives. I know all couples can’t begin here, but we did. And, I’m convinced learning that discipline to restrain ourselves before marriage has freed us up to thoroughly enjoy ourselves after marriage.

  7. We’ve had lots of sex after marriage. God created us to have sexual desire. Christian couples, in particular, need to get over their inhibitions, talk about sex and continue to discover. Again, the principle of putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your needs holds true here as well. If you want to help your spouse avoid temptations outside of marriage, your sex life needs to stay spicy.

  8. We enjoy wine together. (My unchurched friends won’t understand why this is politically incorrect. Trust me. It is with church people.) In other words, we don’t let religious people define how we live our lives including our marriage. We let God’s Word direct our lives. Because of that, who we are publicly is who we are privately. We don’t have to pretend to be someone we’re not. We can be ourselves with each other and with everyone we do life with. There’s a lot of freedom in that.

  9. We never meet alone or publicly with a member of the opposite sex. I don’t have meals alone with another woman. I won’t travel alone (even in a car) with another woman. I won’t meet a woman alone in an office without windows or without an open door. (My consulting clients can verify this.) This protects both of us from the temptations we all face. These protections help us avoid mistakes that would reduce the freedoms we have in our marriage. We’re not willing to sacrifice that for a momentary inconvenience.

  10. We’re committed to a covenant where divorce is not an option. For Emily and me, that means we need to work at loving each other. We don’t wait for love to happen — we work at it. We need to discipline our lives to avoid mistakes that could end our marriage. We prioritize our faith, because that creates order for the rest of our lives including our marriage. Since we both agreed to fulfill this covenant ‘til death do us part, we have confidence that, even when marriage is difficult, we will persevere.

I know. Some of this sounds really shallow. Some of this sounds impractical. Some of this sounds inappropriate. I hope it challenges your thinking and generates some healthy conversation with your spouse.

Let’s choose integrity. Let’s choose to stay married.


Photo Credit: Jeff Belmonte via Compfight cc

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

Comments (25)

  1. EXCELLENT article, Tony! As a newly engaged woman (yay!), this is incredibly encouraging to read. Thank you for writing it!

  2. Chris Overton

    Gosh, thanks for this unbelievable article. As a single guy I can’t wait to experience these years of joy you’ve had. It’s people like you who people like me can look up to and hope to be like one day. Thanks, Tony!

  3. Tony M.

    Glad two currently single found this to be helpful. I think I left all the married people stunned. :-)

  4. Love it Tony. My wife and I have been married almost 29 years and we embrace these 10 politically incorrect ways to live a marriage. Congrats.

  5. My wife and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage this October and we dated for 4 years before that…great advice, but unfortunately rarely practiced in current culture. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Alicia K

    i love this. my husband and i are coming up on 1 year of marriage and have gone by these rules as well (except the kids rule … no kiddies yet!) … it’s made for an amazing year! thank you for sharing these!

  7. eric

    Thanks for an awesome article! I’m getting married and a couple of months and we’ve been aiming for all of these points. Question, though, that few people seem unable to answer well: how do you lead your wife spiritually/prioritize her relationship with God?

  8. Great post! My wife and I have also been married 22 years and practice most of these things. (I especially enjoyed the part about the hair style). And with our kids, we have actually told them that our relationship is more important than ours with them. Because they benefit from security in their parents.
    Congrats on the anniversary.

  9. Craig Valvo

    Great post Tony, particularly because you caught me off guard with the topic. #10 has become far too diminshed lately. Scientists tell us that when we are in a situation that threatens our survival, we experience “FIGHT or FLIGHT Reaction”. The decision to “FIGHT” is biologically supported by things like adrenaline, muscle tension, and enhanced respiratory function. This gives us the ability to achieve extraordinary results. God designed us to be Extraordinary.
    Too many people leave the door of “FLIGHT” open in their marriage and rather than rising up to the challenge to fight for their marriage, they choose to flee the situation.
    In almost almost all cases, I encourage married couples to take the escape route off the table when discussing their marriage and give God the opportunity to work in their marriage.

    Thanks for sharing from your personal life.

  10. Happy Anniversary, Tony. We’re approaching our 22nd anniversary this year (and four years of dating before that.) We also have embraced this politically incorrect way of life. We never use the ‘D’ word, we did all our learning about sex ‘on the job’ (after we got married) – and that’s the most fun ever, can I just say – and we safeguard ourselves and one another at every turn. I love being married to Katie – and even on our worst day, it’s better than our best day before one another. Thanks for showering truth….

  11. Rachel

    I can relate to all but numbers 3 and 9…We both have careers that fulfill us outside the home, and work hard to help make each other’s dreams a reality. I agree that 9 should be followed as much as possible, but there are times (for instance, I’m a dancer and often dance/rehearse with male partners) when spending time alone with someone of the opposite sex is necessary. I’d say for those times, keep your head where it ought to be, check yourself, and trust God and your partner.

    • Josh

      Are we not instructed to flee from temptation? Is the career and dreams more important than serving and glorifying God? That is our number one reason for existence after, to glorify God.

      • Rachel

        Certainly to flee from temptation. But if the careers and dreams were put there by God to serve and glorify Him? I dance as worship, and my husband writes as worship. Should we not encourage each other to follow God’s calling on our lives? Just wanted to point out that every couple’s situation is different. No couple should feel condemnation if they don’t measure up to this list.

  12. Jamel Salter

    Really really like this especially #2. I get so annoyed at the “looks do not matter you are suppose to love your spouse regardless” defense. You definitely choose to love your spouse no matter what they look like but there is nothing wrong with presenting yourself in away that appeals to your spouse’s physical preferences. Great post..the absence of these may explain why marriages are the way they are in this country

  13. Chiso

    This is a great article but i’m sorry to be a bit critical but parts of it are too superficial…Yes you and your partner challenging each other to stay healthy is amazing but not for the reasons of looks or something like hair, it’s nice to wear your hair as she might want but that cannot be one of the reasons your still married…Maybe the sacrifice but if your still married because you wear your hair how she likes, what happens if God forbid you loose all your hair or maybe get cancer and have to be treated? So i agree with everything on here except point 2 and feel like point number 1 infact covered what you were trying to say in point 2, which is that your partners needs come first…

  14. Dan Smith

    Attaboy Tony. I agree with all ten reasons… ;-) Very well written and even better lived out. Thanks and God Bless you and Emily with many more years together.

  15. June

    Sounds nice, but maybe you’re still married simply because you both want to be married. Unfortunately none of those things matter if both people aren’t equally invested in the marriage. It’s too bad there’s no way to know in advance if a spouse will invest in the marriage or if they’ll change (lose interest, get lazy or selfish, or develop mental illness). I’m glad to hear it works out for some people, though.

  16. Great article. I agree with most of what you said. My wife and I have been married for over 13 years and every anniversary I get even more excited. We make our marriage a priority. I’m in the Military so we have that added pressure working against us. But we remain dedicated to each other and have decided that we’re standing for more in this world! Thanks for the post.

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