Milestone anniversaries are worth celebrating and I’m thrilled to share here on the blog our 15 secrets to a happy 15th Anniversary! (Even if I didn’t get to post this until today, 4 days after our ACTUAL anniversary!) But hey, we actually got to celebrate it at Disney World, kind of unexpectedly, so that worked out amazingly well! We don’t cease to be amazed at the things God has done and continues to do in our lives!
So, let’s get right to those 15 secrets that I hope encourage you in your current relationship, whether you’re engaged, have been married for a minute, or are on your way to your own 15th anniversary. If you’ve been married for longer than that, please share any of YOUR secrets in the comments below so we can learn from each other!
Ok, here we go!
Here’s our #1 secret to a happy 15th anniversary:
Take pictures with Buzz Lightyear! (We’re kidding!) lol!
No, not really. But that was FUNNY! We took that first Buzz Lightyear picture during our Disney honeymoon 15 years ago. And when a surprise trip to Florida came up earlier this month, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to recreate the shot! And Buzz was kind enough to oblige!
Of course, that’s not the “real” #1 secret to a happy marriage or happy 15th anniversary celebration. Here are the “real” 15 secrets that Adam and I have found to be true:
1- Pray together
This is no surprise if you know us. God is the center of our relationship and the main reason we’re celebrating a VERY Happy 15th Anniversary! I believe God brought us together and He’s the one who holds us together. So it’s natural for us to make prayer the #1 secret to our happy 15th anniversary. We pray for each other, separately, in the car and at home. It’s an on-going, easy-going conversation with God, not a “serious 1 hour daily commitment, which we’re apt to break; or a Sundays-only situation.”
Oh, and we’ll let you in on another secret: prayer really works! We have seen our share of miracles and I couldn’t be more thankful to God for ALL He’s done!
2-Go to church together
Adam and I actually met in church! This was truly the beginning of our relationship. And going to church has been an integral part of our lives since then. When we met, Adam was a sound guy at our church in Puerto Rico and I was on the praise team and in the choir. We went to youth group/college/young adult events together and ate out afterwards a LOT! Chili’s saw our romance grow over many shared Margarita Grilled Chicken platters! Which leads to point number 3:
3- Share meals together.
This is actually really difficult! LOL! I love Starbucks and he’d rather grab tacos at La Michoacana for breakfast. I love Torchy’s and sit down restaurants. Adam loves hole-in-the-wall dives, food trucks, really strange food from foreign countries and sushi. I have IBS. If it’s not *really* Thai spicy, he doesn’t feel the heat. If it’s too spicy, it makes me cough. But somehow, we enjoy eating together! We have a shared love for Mediterranean food (yay, hummus!) I sometimes take risks and try some of his faves (although I still don’t like the many different types of sushi I’ve tried … lol!) He goes to the “weird” places at lunch, so we can go to my “regular places on date nights. And as long as I can eat something with chocolate afterwards, we’re usually good. 😉
When I was a teen, dreaming of prince charming, I had a pretty simple list of “Things I want in my future husband.” I wanted a guy who didn’t just say he was a Christian, but you could tell it by the way he lived. And I needed a guy with a sense of humor. Not a “make fun of people and put people down” sense of humor, but someone who genuinely enjoys life. And man, do we love to LAUGH!
Adam even made me laugh out loud this morning in the car by singing a ridiculous “It’s your anniversary “song from an old Phineas and Ferb cartoon on the Disney channel. I think our kids would agree that they didn’t like that show as much as we did. I have photos with Ducky Momo from a Disney trip a few years ago. You’d have to know Phineas and Ferb to know who that is … yeah, I’m ridiculous! But it’s another thing we can laugh about today!
5-Do hard things together
There’s nothing that will bring people closer together than “doing hard things.” It makes you realize you’re stronger thank you thought. And it gives you a new appreciation of the person you’re with. When Adam and I met, I was already a few years into doing prison ministry. He came with me “behind bars” like it was no big deal. This not only made me watch my amazing husband-to-be in action, sharing God’s love, setting up sound equipment, praying with guys and having FUN! But at the end of the day, we could look at each other and realize we really wanted to spend the rest of our lives doing all that and more.
6-Serve or volunteer together
Serving or volunteering together doesn’t have to be “hard.” If you want to do prison ministry or go on a mission trip and do hard things, that’s GREAT! But serving together can be something as simple and enjoyable as what Adam and I do pretty much every weekend: sing and work with the media department at our church.
Through the years, we’ve both sung and done sound/production as volunteers. Right now, Adam is blessed to call that his full time, paid job! And I’ve also been blessed with paid invitations to sing and speak at women’s events.
It’s amazing when you find what you are passionate about and even MORE amazing if you’re able to do those things together. For you, it could be teaching 4th graders, leading a couples Bible study, running a food pantry or serving the homeless. It could be going to camp with high schoolers or teaching literacy at the local library.
The secret here is that serving together gives you a fresh appreciation for the amazing person that you happen to be married to!
I’m not going to tell you that Adam and I agree on EVERYTHING … because we don’t. We disagree a LOT! But we have agreed on some non-negotiables that I believe are a secret to celebrating our happy 15th anniversary (and, God willing, many more to come!)
We have agreed to eliminate the “D” word from our vocabulary: Divorce.
For us, divorce is just not an option. But I understand that there are situations that are completely out of your control. There are situations where lives are in danger. And please hear me say that I care about your safety.
If you ever find yourself in an abusive, life-threatening situation for you or any loved one, please get help.
If you are in danger, please contact 9-1-1, go to a trusted family member or friend and be safe.
That was important for me to clarify.
Now that we’re just talking about your average disagreements (squeezing the toothpaste, money, in-laws, parenting, etc…, not life-threatening abuse), if you just can’t seem to stop arguing, it might be time to ask for help.
For us, fighting FOR our marriage, to make it the BEST it can be, is huge. It’s a priority. Divorce “if things don’t work out” is not “Plan B.” Instead, we ask for help. We’ve talked to family members, friends, pastors and yes, we have gone to counseling. We took Financial Peace University to deal with financial issues. We take “time out” if needed, and write things down. I like to journal. And, honestly, sometimes you or your spouse just need a break. We pray that we can make our marriage better every day … and I pray the same for you today.
8- Refrain together …
…from yelling or insulting each other, even when you’re mad! Ugh, this can be HARD! I have days when my LATINA comes out and I can be loud and opinionated. Or maybe that’s every day…lol! Seriously though, I hate the feeling I get when words come out that I wish hadn’t. Even when I’m quick to apologize, which I try to do, the damage is done and that hurts. I feel like this whole “refrain” and “self-control” thing is a work-in-progress situation for me. But I’m committed to putting in the work to refrain more often and think before I speak.
Respect is such a huge issue. Respecting each other’s wishes, need for space, and just plain R-E-S-P-E-C-T is so important to a happy marriage. Since we’re sharing our secrets, Adam and I personally do our best to:
- Be honest, but speak the truth in love.
- Not yell or insult the other person. (Yes, I get loud, but yelling insults and mean words AT each other is not ok in our book.)
- Respect (and encourage) the other’s space, time & needs. (Shooting range & hair appointments get respect around here…lol!)
- Not complain to other people about each other (IRL – in real life – and on social media.)
- Not bully, nag or complain. That just never does any good, it just makes things worse.
“A dream is a wish your heart makes …” That’s a song from Disney’s original cartoon Cinderella (still one of my favorites!) But dreaming together is something that can make your marriage stronger and happier! If you remember what it was like when you were dating, so much of that season is DREAMING about the wedding, the future, where you’d live, what house you’d buy, what your kids would look like, etc. Then, after you get married and those things start happening, especially if reality doesn’t quite look like your dream, it can really bring you down. So how do you come back up and really enjoy a HAPPY marriage and celebrate lots of happy anniversaries? Dream again! Dream together! You are not stuck. Ask each other and share both big and small dreams for the future. Just to get you started, here’s a list of ideas:
- Dream jobs – do you have your dream job? If not what is it? Is it realistic to make a change?
- Dream house/location – do you want to live closer to family? In a colder or warmer climate?
- Dream car – if you could have ANY car, what would it be? It might not be practical, but dreaming is still fun! And maybe you could rent that dream car for a fun anniversary surprise!
- Dream vacation – Is it a Caribbean cruise or a family Disney trip? Maybe you dream of two vacays – a family one and a “just the two of us” trip! Talk about it and find out how much it would really cost and how could you possibly make it happen.
Dreaming together could be step 1 to make some of those dreams come true … or come up with some new dreams together!
If you know our story, you know Adam and I have survived a lot together:
- Two brain tumors (for more on that, see #12 below)
- Cross-country moves (Puerto Rico to California to Texas)
- Losing loved ones (several of our grandparents have passed, my matron of honor from our wedding, who had kidney failure and others.)
- Hurricane Harvey flooding
When you go through difficult, trying times, it can be tempting to isolate and not want to process hurtful situations. However, these same times can actually bring you together as a couple. And what we’ve experienced is that, especially when you pray together as a couple through those storms, God brings you through it stronger and with a sweeter bond to each other. I’m really thankful for everything God has brought Adam and me through.
12- Heal together
Man, going through physical, mental or emotional pain can really affect you as a couple. And just like we just shared in #11 about “Surviving Together,” it’s wonderful when you move forward and experience “Healing Together.” For us, we have experienced physical healing after:
- A car accident
- Adam needed surgery and I needed stitches after one bad wreck that happened while we were still dating… more than 15 years ago!)
- Two brain tumors.
- We give God ALL the praise for healing Adam not just once but TWICE from benign brain tumors and surgeries.
- My C-section
- I had a very painful recovery from a c-section, both physically and emotionally. Adam was a rock through that time, but it was REALLY difficult to deal with as a couple, with a newborn, trying to figure a lot of things out. I thank God for how he helped us and healed us through that time.
- A few years ago, I landed in the ER a few times with excruciating pain that doctors couldn’t figure out. After researching, multiple doctor’s visits and finding a specialist two and a half hours away, we got the answer to the pain that had me writhing on the floor, nauseous in a cold sweat: endometriosis. Thank God, medication helped manage it and, a few months later, when I got pregnant with my daughter, the horrible symptoms for the most part went away.
I’m incredibly thankful to God for healing us both, individually and together, through these times. I’m thankful for Adam, and the amazing husband that he is. He’s patiently been with me through dark times, we’ve prayed together and have seen God bring us through time and time again. I pray that you’ll see the same in your life — that you’ll seek God and experience healing from His hand.
We have not set out to “travel the world,” but in the past 15 years we’ve had some really fun adventures! I included this in our 15 secrets to a Happy 15th Anniversary because in many cases, these trips have been us, making the best of situations! While many of our trips together were work-related, we’ve managed to squeeze in an extra day or two for fun! We’ve had prison ministry trips that we’ve turned into fun road trips in California and Texas. We’ve been all over California, on a cruise to Cozumel and Key West, and visited Vegas and the Grand Canyon one summer. Plus, we’ve been able to turn family visits into “vacays” in Puerto Rico and Nashville!
13-Do Social Media together
There are NO secrets between us. I think that’s a BIG part of celebrating this happy 15th anniversary. Adam and I keep all our social media accounts open and available to each other. We keep each other as accountable as possible. Ex boyfriend or girlfriend contacts are out of bounds, and we are happy to block anyone that comes close to crossing any lines. Social media can be a very dangerous playground and we don’t like playing with fire when it comes to our marriage. We’d rather keep our marriage fire burning brightly with each other … not anyone else.
So this is another work in progress. We are by no mean perfect parents .. no one is! But there are two main reasons why “Parenting together” is on our list of 15 secrets to a happy 15th anniversary:
- The way Adam loves our kids makes me fall in love with him over and over every day. He’s an AMAZING dad (even when the kids and I (and our dog, Ella) take over the bed to “snug for just 5 more minutes” when everyone should be in their OWN beds! lol!) …this is one of Adam’s wishes that I might need to respect more (like I said in #9 above!)
- We fill in each other’s gaps. It is such a blessing to have a husband like Adam, a super involved and hands on dad. He walked with me through pregnancy classes (shout out to Alicia, our amazing Bradley instructor!) He’s been my rock through pre-pregnancy, birth (a c-section and a VBAC), post-partum mood swings and crazy breastfeeding adventures. Yep, he knows all about the #lowbreastmilk #struggles of pumping and filling up little baggies and storing them in the fridge. And we’re STILL happily married. lol! He rocked a cool dad style diaper bag, was always willing to change those diapers and took on FULL daddy duties when I was exhausted and needed an afternoon nap when I’ve worked a radio morning show schedule.
This man has my heart. And I’m beyond thankful to God for bringing into my life the exact guy He knew I needed.
Adam, Babe, I probably don’t say enough how MUCH I love you and how thankful I am to you for everything.
I’ll wrap up our 15 secrets to a happy 15th anniversary with this: we apologize and forgive often. Adam and I say “I’m sorry” a lot. We believe in not waiting for the other person to apologize. We agree that it’s not good to let the sun go down while you are still angry. And we know that neither of us is perfect, so apologizing and forgiving is often not that hard … we know we’ll be the next person who’ll need extra grace in the near future.
We hope our 15 secrets can help encourage you in your own marriage!
We still have so much to learn, but I’m thankful that God has brought us through the past 15 years, and I pray that He’ll lead us through many, many more to come!
I’ll wrap this up with gratitude to God for my dream hubby, Adam.
Years ago, I had a dream that I’d marry a man who loved Jesus, not just with words, but with his actions. God heard my prayers for a guy with a sense of humor. I wanted someone who would love me and date me and cherish me. I hoped he would be an amazing father to our children. And I’m thankful that God answered those prayers (and so much more) with you, Babe. I love you, Adam Acevedo. Here’s to many more Happy Anniversaries!!!
Laughing (and loving) thru life,