8 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years of Marriage

Twenty-five years ago today, Pam Harvey and I were married at the Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fairfield, Ohio. The years have passed quickly, and the adventures have been many. As I reflect on these years, here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  1. I’m probably the most selfish person who ever lived. Marriage points out stuff like that, you know. You’ll never know how selfish you are until you start sharing life and space with somebody else.
  2. I’m probably the most loved man that ever lived. The flip side of seeing how selfish you are is seeing how unselfish your spouse is. As long as I live, I will never understand why Pam loves me the way she does – except that she models for me God’s love.
  3. Men and women are really different. I carry my work burdens home; Pam definitively separates work from home. She craves time; I crave affirmation. I love to hike and camp; Pam loves Hampton Inn. She longs for conversation when asking “how was your day?”; I think “fine” is a conversation. Somehow, it works….
  4. Men need help learning how to love their wives. I can tell other men to love their wife “as Christ loves the church” (Eph 5:25), but I’m still learning how to do that. A lack of godly role model husbands in the church does not bode well for the future of marriage. 
  5. You don’t have to fight when you disagree. Pam and I have not always agreed on everything, but we’ve never had an argument. In fact, I’ve seen her angry with me only once (and trust me, she was justified . . . ). Respect for each other as a brother or sister in Christ goes a long way.
  6. You really do marry the family. That doesn’t always mean you hang out with the family a lot (ministry moved us from our families more than 20 years ago), but it does mean that you marry a history. We are who we are partially because of our heritage, and that history affects marriage relationships. Recognizing this reality is good. 
  7. You marry a person, not a role. Pam didn’t marry me because I was a pastor, and I didn’t marry her because she’d be a fabulous pastor’s wife. We married each other because God put us together in love. That foundation has carried us through multiple ministry moves and differing roles.
  8. I don’t know how marriage works without God. There are too many obstacles to a successful marriage without Him. The option of divorce is assumed to be a right. Pornography beckons both sexes, distorting what sexuality is intended to be. Affairs become more common when society tosses godly morals. Without the “glue” of God’s love, marriages stand on shaky ground from the beginning. 

I’m deeply grateful for Pam today. Even more than that, though, I’m grateful for the One who created us, redeemed us, brought us together, and keeps us together.


  • David McBryar says:

    Gina and I both have very strong type A personalities so I can honestly say we have argued many many times (LOL). In saying that, we always respect and love each other! Never slept apart out of anger nor have either of us ever mentioned divorce! We love you and Pam and thank you for the time you both devote to us!

  • matt sachitano says:

    Thanks, Dr. Lawless, for sharing. Thanks for opening your home for a bunch of seminary students in 2008, i think my group was, and letting us watch just a little bit of your marriage. To this day, I remember listening to you and Mrs. Pam as you shared with us, and that has impacted me then as a single man and today as a husband of almost 6 years. And to this day, I remember your incredible ping pong skills….but foremost is listening to you both share with us all that night – thank you.

  • Richard Sego says:

    Good word Dr. Lawless. After my 25 years of marriage, I have these same conclusions. I am blessed….marriage is a joy and only getting better.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Blessings, Richard!

  • Heather Martin Dopico says:

    Thank you for the wonderful example you were at rolling Hills Baptist Church. I remember that your wedding was a beautiful ceremony. You baptized me when I was in second grade. RHBC loves you and Pam so much!

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