How to Make a Marriage Work: Lessons from 30 Years Together, Five Kids and a Good Dose of Messy

Ever wondered how people make marriages last decade, after decade, after decade? It might not be easy, but it sure is worth it!! After thirty+ years of marriage, and five children I can say without a doubt our journey has been fun + beautiful, but it didn’t come without a good dose of messy.

That’s the part I never anticipated. When I was a young girl dreaming about what it would look like to get whisked off my feet by Prince Charming, let’s just say it looked nothing like the marriage I witnessed in my own home. With the exception of those tiny glimpses of happy moments, my younger years were hard. You see, I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father. And while he really was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back, he was also very sick. It wasn’t until I was in high school that he actually began his journey with sobriety. All that to say, it wasn’t what I wanted my marriage and family life to resemble.

My vision of our happy life together raising our family was filled with lots of adventures together, romantic dates, ease and laughter. Little did I know there’s really nothing easy about raising five kids except for watching them sleep. I envisioned a life with plenty of money and family vacations, but most of all lots of peace and happiness.

Never in a million years did I think we would suffer periods of time when we were broke as a joke and cuddled up under the covers together trying to stay warm, or worse...living in different homes for three months while we worked through some serious challenges!

I guess you could say I’ve learned a few things on the road to creating a successful marriage.

  1. Happiness doesn’t come from living in a mansion. Once upon a time we were financially destitute, shacked up in a tiny one bedroom house with three young children and one on the way. Mark and I, plus one...the youngest, slept in the living room and the two oldest took the bedroom, which was super small, (think one set of beds, only if they were bunked) and a tiny dresser. It worked, because we made it work! We were happy, because we were together.

  2. You don’t have to like each other to love each other. I love my husband more than anything in the world, but it doesn’t mean I always like him. I’m sure he doesn’t always like me either, but I know he always loves me. I have to confess this isn’t what I thought the perfect marriage would look like when I was a young girl dreaming about my knight in shining armor. I imagined every moment would be blissful. What I now know is there’s beauty in the messy. It’s where we become better people. You see, successful marriages happen not by finding better partners, but by being one!!

  3. Quitting is not an option! Things haven’t always been rainbows and butterflies over here. We’ve had our share of tough seasons, and I’m talking REAL trials, the kind that destroy marriages. What I’ve witnessed and participated in were two people who were willing to do the hard work! Seriously hard work. We ignored our feelings. When we felt like throwing in the towel, we didn’t. What I now know is marriages are sometimes messy and our mind is where the battle begins. “Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering I will try again tomorrow.” -Mary Anne Radmacher

We spent months apart during a very trying time in our lives, a time when I was certain there was no way this marriage was going to make it. It was our faith in Him and His power to transform us that saw us through to the other side. He did transform water into wine, calmed raging seas, healed the blind and raised the dead. Of course He could heal our brokenness. And He did.

Tamara Manahan is a small town girl with a heart for making a difference. While walking alongside her dad in his fight against lymphoma she became his bone marrow donor. During that process, she felt called to give back to those suffering hair loss. This led to her becoming a certified microblading artist. Her business (Tamara & Company) now includes multiple locations and additional artists. Every service they offer is uniquely designed to help women gain confidence and free up time in the morning so they can meet the day feeling beautiful AND enjoy a sense of peace.

When she’s not making women FEEL beautiful, you can find her writing for her blog (The Make Up of Beauty), snuggled up with a good book, soaking up the sunshine, eating ice cream or making her house feel like a home.