Dear Single, Engaged, Newly Wed, Wed, Lengthy Wed, or whatever other state you’re at in life,
Recently I was asked “What’s the best advice you were given for your marriage?” and it inspired me to write this post and share with you some of my heart on marriage.
Let me be perfectly honest with you – Most of the advice I was given …. yeah, we don’t go by that – advice such as “remember, your wife is ALWAYS right” granted there are times where my hubby says he should’ve kept his mouth shut because I often over react, I know, ME? OVER REACT? HA! I have this problem where I am thinking that I am explaining as to why I haven’t done something or to why I did something or said something & in my head it’s just a simple explanation, but apparently it’s just another word for an “excuse”, which drives my man bonkers. We make it through though :) Because, you see – the wife (me) is NOT always right. GASP! I know, I know, swallow that one ladies. it also doesn’t mean I’m never wrong, just means sometimes I’m right, sometimes he is right, sometimes we are both right, and sometimes were both wrong.
One of my favorites we were given was “Never go to bed angry” . I love this in that we work out whatever has bothered us, not going to bed angry, just helps to know you’re both on the same page before you close your eyes to go to sleep for the night.
Most of the BEST ‘advice’ I’ve gotten pertaining to our marriage has actually come from my husband. I know how blessed I am with the man God allowed me to marry. We don’t live a glamorous life in the world’s eyes (or to America’s standard) but I believe in God’s eyes, our marriage is beautiful. Perfect – FAR from it. Flawless – NOPE. What we do have is a marriage based on Christ’s relationship with the Church – which includes choosing to love one another, forgiving each other, and having God as our center.
Before we got married we courted, we didn’t date, we were together with the intentions of getting to know each other’s hearts and laying out our expectations and such. During this time we had a lot of deep conversation. One of the best things he advised we do was take the Five Love Languages quiz from Dr. Gary Chapman’s book 5 Love Languages. It is still helping us better understand each other five years down the road. It helped us better understand what actions or words we say to each other will better express our love to each other, and helps us understand that it’s unnatural for us to show love the way the other needs to be shown love. For example, it means more to Tom if I show him acts of service (like doing all of the everyday household chores) than if we just hang out; and it means more to me if we have quality time than if he does the laundry. You see what happens there :) These are the 5 Love Languages:
During our courtship Tom also suggested we talk out all of our expectations for marriage. This goes beyond talking about how many children you want (which should also be discussed). You need to discuss what you expect to give and get out of your relationship. For example, who is going to do the laundry, the dishes, cook, take out the trash, finances, where you want to worship, whether you want to rent or own, what are your views on discipline for your future children, and even about sex — and that’s just to name a FEW things! You should enter your marriage – or start now – with no secrets. What’s the point of being married to someone who you don’t want to share everything with. Since we’ve been married there are things that have surfaced that we didn’t talk about before marriage, and we’ve made it through by God’s grace. God’s grace is a beautiful thing – one that I believe if God extends His grace to us, who are we to withhold that same grace to our spouses in times where forgiveness is needed. Our marriage is not perfect, it will always be a work in progress, just like our relationships with Christ. There will always be room for us to grow closer, just like our relationship with Christ. There will be reasons for forgiveness, just like Christ forgives us of our sins. We will always CHOOSE to LOVE each other, just like Christ Chooses to LOVE us. Notice a theme…. that’s no coincidence.
Love is NOT an emotion, LOVE IS A CHOICE. God chooses to love us. We CHOOSE to love our spouses. That’s why I believe there are so many divorces, people say “we fell out of love” …. so what you’re saying is “we made the choice to stop loving each other”. I know this is a touchy subject with the rate of divorce and how common it is. But, You can’t be selfish in marriage, and expect everything to be like it is in the Disney movies, in fairy tales. There is a villain though - it’s Satan, & he’s going to do all he can to destroy marriage. WHY? That’s because God institutionalized marriage to be between a man and a woman and to bring GLORY to God.
God designed marriage to be a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church. Like with Hosea, God had him marry a woman who was an adulteress, and told Hosea to stay with her – to portray a picture, at that time, to the people – so that they would see that God forgives them, even when they are putting idols above God. Hosea 3:1 Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover[a] and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.” Now, I’m not saying for you to go out and marry someone who you know will cheat on you, God specifically called the prophet Hosea to do that, but that was just in that case. God wants us to marry and both remain faithful to one another, and to Him.
Ladies – if you’re not married – I encourage you to find a man who puts God above you; and you better be putting God before him. I truly believe with all of my heart that unless husband and wife each have their own relationships with God, they can never, and will never, really be happy and in love. The intimacy level you gain with your spouse when you both are seeking God and putting Him first, is indescribable. (Don’t believe me, try it – you will not be disappointed.) I find my husband most attractive when we’re talking about our walks and our intimacy with Christ, even includes when he is preaching…. makes me work at keeping focus on the Word while my man is in the pulpit ;) okay so maybe that’s a little TMI, BUT I feel it’s necessary to share to help you ladies (& guys) understand the picture I’m trying to make in how IMPORTANT A CLOSE WALK WITH GOD IS – ESPECIALLY IN YOUR MARRIAGE. Tom and I do not claim to be marriage experts, but I’d like to think we’ve got it right – or at least the right idea. Sure we don’t always go straight to God and will say hurtful things to each other sometimes, but we always forgive and get back on track & hold each other accountable in our walks with the Lord – that’s what’s important.
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HERE IS THE ADVICE THAT I SHARED WITH THE PERSON WHO ASKED FOR SOME, and it’s advice that Tom and I live by:
* Set out each other’s expectations first hand (before the wedding, if possible) & understand what is realistic.
* Take the 5 love languages test – it’ll help you better understand how to best show love to one another.
* Love is NOT a fairy tale or an emotion – LOVE IS A CHOICE. Wake up everyday CHOOSING to love your spouse as God has deigned.
* MOST IMPORTANT: as long as you both have God as your center focus – you’re going to make it against any odds – there is nothing more important in your marriage than your relationship with Christ.
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Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
New King James Version (NKJV)
Marriage—Christ and the Church
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body,[a] of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.