Top 3 Things that 18 Years of Marriage Have Taught Me

BY: - 26 Jun '17 | Marriage

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Anniversaries are super special in my house. I would never have imagined being married to my husband for eighteen years. Real talk, my parents didn’t even think my husband Don and I would remain married past the first six months. They expressed this to us more times than I can count.

Why would my parents think this, let alone have the nerve to verbalize this to us? Well, the early years of our marriage were extremely volatile. We did not get along and could not see eye to eye on anything. We argued over stupid things such as how to fix spaghetti: sauce mixed in or poured on top? These arguments would escalate to fussing and eventually cussing matches. Don would always say he was leaving and I would tell to do it, calling his bluff every time.

We had moments where we were forced to come together and get along. We even have life or death situations with two premature labor pregnancies. We learned real quick how to pray together in those instances. Through military deployments, many unemployments, health issues and even a child spending a weekend in jail, we endured things that would have torn other marriages apart.

With all of that being said, on June 12th we celebrated eighteen years of marriage. That’s two hundred sixteen months of marriage, two hundred and ten more than my parents thought we would see as man and wife…..whew!

During this week, I have had several people ask me what we do to keep our marriage fun and fresh after eighteen years. Don had some guys shake his hand and congratulate him for this daunting task of keeping his marriage together and still liking me. Imagine that.

I wanted to share a few things we do to keep our marriage fun and fresh. It is so important because I am not going anywhere anytime soon. The brother is stuck with me until death do we part.

Apologize quickly – You know when you have messed up. Own it, ask for forgiveness and move on. As women, we try to hold on to our apology. I say that is the dumbest thing ever. The longer you hold on to it, the longer you allow the enemy to eat your marriage up. Do not worry about them. Do your part. If you are not immediately forgiven, give that to God.

Forgive quickly – Just like the apology, forgiving is so key to your freedom in marriage. Holding on to something does damage to your heart and spirit. It also keeps a wedge in between the two of you. Ask yourself if it is truly worth holding your husband hostage to your pride.

Love hard – The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I think this scripture was written for married people. Where else do you have to love hard other than parenting? I always ask my clients, “Would you divorce your kids?” Those angry moments with your spouse are fleeting at best, but LOVE lasts for an eternity. I chose to love Don when he was at his lowest moments. It was not easy and there were so many days when I wanted to leave. I am so glad I didn’t call it quits on my marriage because of temporary situations. He is now, my best friend.

As I reflect on these eighteen years with my husband, I am reminded that he is not perfect but he is perfect for me.

About the author

Tanya Barnett wrote 15 articles on this blog.

Tanya Barnett is a relationship strategist, speaker and the “Real” Wife Coach. She is the author of Being a Wife Just Got Real: Things I Wish I Knew, Before I Said, I Do”. She founded the Real Wife Movement™, where she equips single and married women with tools to create strong marriages and families. She is also the founder of Forever Free Books, a mobile literacy nonprofit, which delivers free books and story time to low income children in their neighborhoods and communities. She is a marathoner, triathlete and a serious book lover. She and her husband, Don, have 3 awesome kids.


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Is Settling the Secret to a Lasting Relationship?

BY: - 28 Jun '17 | Marriage

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The topic of settling was discussed on a radio show I was listening to last week. In my opinion it depends on what you’re settling for.

We all know that no one is perfect and that your ideal mate won’t show up in your life wrapped in a nice and neat package with a bow and have every single thing you are looking for. There will be something your spouse does or doesn’t have as it relates to your “list”.

For some individuals they may have grown weary in trying to find the perfect partner and made a decision to accept the very next person that comes their way.  This decision typically leads to heartache down the road.

Relationship happiness comes when you truly make a love connection with the person you decide to marry. Settling and doing without what’s really important to you could easily lead to regret and unhappiness.

Settling and doing without what’s really important to you could easily lead to regret and unhappiness.

Of course you might have to settle on some things. For example, does your potential mate really have to be 6’3”? It might be a preference, but is it a deal breaker?  

It’s important to be careful not to settle on the things that matter most to you in your relationships, your deal breakers. The things you truly value in a relationship should never be compromised. We deserve to be happy and to have a relationship that honors us with love and respect.

Settling may not be the secret to a lasting relationship, but here’s what is:

Love. It’s where it all begins. Love is an action word that causes us as adults to make sacrifices and show up better. A relationship can’t survive if this is missing. I know some folks marry for all types of reasons, but have you ever seen how unhappy those people look who have settled for something other than love?

Honesty. Trust is everything in a relationship. A partner has to do what they say they’re going to do and be honest as it relates to the relationship and you. Having a partner who can’t be trusted will usually lead to disappointment.

Respect. I think Lauryn Hill says it best in one of her songs “Respect is just the minimum.” Every relationship I’ve seen succeed is one where respect is alive and well. Listening to one another, accepting and respecting each other’s thoughts and opinions is key to relationship success.

Attraction. It isn’t superficial at all to want to be attracted to the person you’re in a relationship with. From attraction comes intimacy and we all know how important intimacy can be to a healthy relationship.

Loyalty. The relationships that I’ve seen prosper most are the ones where both partners are invested in the relationship and fully committed to one another. Loyalty is about supporting one another through thick and thin.

I don’t think settling is the secret to a lasting relationship. We, of course, need to decide what we are willing to accept from our partners, as they won’t be perfect. But we should never compromise or settle on the things we truly value and that add to the joy we desire in our lives.

BMWK, do you think settling is the secret to a lasting relationship?

About the author

Tiya Cunningham-Sumter wrote 635 articles on this blog.

Tiya Cunningham-Sumter is a Certified Life & Relationship Coach, founder of Life Editing and Author of A Conversation Piece: 32 Bold Relationship Lessons for Discussing Marriage, Sex and Conflict Available on Amazon . She helps couples and individuals rewrite their life to reflect their dreams. Tiya has been featured in Essence and Ebony Magazines, and named one of the top blogs to read now by Refinery29. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two daughters. To find out more about Tiya, and her coaching, visit and


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