I have been in ministry for ten solid years, and in that time I have written about a lot of topics. There is one topic, however, about which I rarely write because, quite honestly, I do not feel that I have enough wisdom to offer in that arena. That topic is marriage. After 23 years of marriage, I still do not have it all figured out and I am far, far, far from the perfect wife to Greg. Yet, today, I believe that I have stumbled upon a treasure trove of marriage wisdom that I want to offer to you.
Let me give you the back story.
Our family has experienced the joy of seeing two young men choose beautiful young women as their future wives. In 2018, our nephew, Kalem, will marry his fiancee’ Erika in May. Then, in June, Greg and I will be blessed to gain a daughter-in-love when our son, Charlie, marries Morgan.
All of this wedding chatter and planning prompted me to think about when I got married and how I wish there had been a ‘marriage mentor’ to walk alongside me and pour into me. Of course, I had my parents, but there is something different and special about having someone come alongside and pour into your heart in a specific way. Someone just a few steps ahead of you in the journey who is willing to share, and yes, even to call you out when you step off the path of truth. Now, that all assumes that I would have been willing to L-I-S-T-E-N!
Last week, the Holy Spirit whispered into my heart that there is a ton of godly wisdom on the topic of marriage within my circle of friends, and that perhaps our kids, and maybe others, would benefit from hearing some real-life wisdom born of trial and error and experience. To that end, I tossed a question out on my Facebook page, and HELLO!!!! wisdom poured onto the page. Today I want to share some of that with you because it is toooooooo good to let it get buried on my Facebook feed.
So, here is the question I asked:
Our family will be blessed to witness two weddings this year: our son, Charlie and his fiancee, Morgan, AND our nephew, Kalem, and his fiancee, Erika. We will also be blessed to have young friends who are getting married in 2018. What marriage and relationship advice would you give a young couple as they say “I Do”?
One major theme of many of the responses was the importance of good communication between a husband and wife. Check them out:
Cindy said: Do not bottle things up, talk, talk and talk some more until it’s all worked out!
Teresa M said: Keep talking with God, each other, and as needed, reliable Christian counsel.
Shelley offered: Don’t be too proud to apologize – and make it heartfelt. There will be times when you will feel out of sync, and that’s okay, it will pass. But, if you are uncomfortable with it, just ask your spouse, “Are we okay?” Then talk about it. Girls AND guys need to feel connected
This wisdom from Kathy speaks loudly: My biggie is healthy communication and determining to work completely through an issue to a healthy resolution. You may come to an impasse at times, so call a time-out and go to neutral spaces but DETERMINE to come back to it when the dust and emotions have settled. That may be 30 minutes, 2 weeks or 30 days BUT come back to it and “finish” resolution of the issue to a healthy place, and then lay it down and learn from that process. I believe one of the biggest problems is that, with most couples, nothing ever gets fully resolved but rather just pushed aside to remain alive and festering, sure to rear its ugly head again some time….
Cathy gave us four rules of communication.
1 be honest
2 keep current
3 attack the problem not the person
4 act don’t react
And this from Larry: The men need to learn 3 phrases – 9 words: 1.) I was wrong. 2.) I am sorry. 3.) Please forgive me.
And all God’s women said, “Amen!”
Another theme that emerged was conflict resolution in marriage. Kathy’s comment from above was on this theme, as were these:
Gloria reminded us that: You don’t always have to be right… it’s okay to admit that you are wrong. And fight fair.
Karen said: Tell on your spouse to God and not to others. Always do this. God is the only way for change either in you or your spouse.
Once again, Kathy added a wealth of wisdom with this: Make it your daily practice to try to “out-serve” each other…and i think that speaks for itself. Can you imagine how many things would never even make our “grumble lists” if, as couples, we were trying to serve the other the most while they have that same goal?!?!?!? About the only thing we’d have to fuss about would be being served and loved TOO much!
A third major theme of finances emerged. This one is huge because research shows that the NUMBER ONE thing couples fight about is M-O-N-E-Y. Let’s take a look at some of the comments on finances:
I said: Since money is the number one issue about which couples argue, do not get into debt (the borrower is slave to the lender).
Teresa T said: Start a nest egg for retirement as soon as you get married. Don’t buy everything you want and see, save your money and pay cash and you might realize it wasn’t needed, after all. Follow the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace rules. Stay away from credit cards! Have a joint checking account and decide together what you will spend your money on.
Beth echoed Teresa with this: No separate checking accounts. Full disclosure in finances will keep everyone accountable.
The issue of romance and dating your spouse also garnered a couple of comments:
Kathy T said: Keep dating. Even after children, time with your spouse is crucial.
Anna, who is celebrating 50 years of marriage this year said: Marry someone you like first and then fall in love with… enjoy doing things together but also have your own time for hobbies.
Lori offered: Know and understand your spouse’s Love Language. Learn to “speak it” if you don’t have the same one. (See Amazon link below to Chapman’s book, ‘The 5 Love Languages’)
Alysa said: I cannot express how important it is to keep dating… Having a child throws a huge curve ball however, we are closer now than ever because we still date!!!
Another topic that elicited some wonderful feedback was the issue of praying for your spouse:
Natasha said: Fight for your marriage daily. We each keep a prayer journal and every day we pray together and separately and I pray to be the best help mate for my spouse and to help mold me into being a better wife and mom. For so long I prayed for change of him, when really it was me who needed changing!
Martha gave some incredible wisdom in her comment: Many many years ago as a teenager, my Pastor’s Wife taught us to begin to pray for our future husbands. I began to pray for him very specifically. I prayed he would learn the things that would prepare him to care for me and our children. I ask God to build my husband and equip him long before I ever met him. Now I recognize the Holy Spirit was preparing me to accept and respect who He was assembling for me. When trials and hardships come as they often do. This truth has been a constant encouragement to me. When my son was in the second grade I began to specifically pray for his wife in the same fashion. I cannot began to tell you how this has impacted our relationship. Now I pray in this manner for my grandchildren. I expect great things from my God because I have invested Great Confidence in Him in prayer. The most amazing thing to me, is for almost 40 years He has been Absolutely Faithful to every prayer I’ve ever prayed.
I want to leave you with a comment from Paula that blessed and challenged me so much as a wife. I hope it will bless and challenge you, too.
Recently I did an online study on the book “YOU & ME FOREVER, Marriage in Light of Eternity” by Francis and Lisa Chan (see Amazon link below). It was soooo good and so eye opening! The main thing I took from it, is we have to remember, God joined us together in marriage as an illustration to the world the love of Christ for His bride. How I treat my husband and vice versa is SUPPOSED to reflect the love, grace and forgiveness that Christ gives His Church.
It has completely changed my perspective in many ways. Now, if I feel like John isn’t acting in a way toward me that I like, for instance maybe he’s had a bad day and is being hateful. It may be quite irritating to me because I know it’s not my fault. But rather than get mad or pout, now, my first thought is…how many times have I acted this way toward God? And how many times has His grace and mercy loved on me through my bad attitude? So how then can I be Jesus to my husband, and extend grace and mercy to him and love him through this like Christ loves me?
To me, this just changes everything!
Then secondly I ask myself, as the world watches how I respond to my husband when he isn’t really my favorite person, or when I feel like he has treated me wrongly, am I showing the love of Christ to the world? Do they see grace, mercy, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE (this is a concept that too many people only attribute to what God has for us, but we are called to love others this way, and we even VOWED before God to love our spouse this way)? Does my marriage reflect the image of the Gospel of Christ? Am I willing to serve my husband when he doesn’t deserve it? Am I willing to always put His needs first, even if I feel my needs may have been neglected (because that’s what unconditional love is… giving and loving as a choice, not because it’s earned and not as a reward to them for meeting your needs)? Am I being Christ like to my spouse?
These are hard questions, but, if we put our focus on the Gospel, and realize the world is watching us and the message of the Gospel is at stake based on how we act, then our marriages will be changed, and our lives will be changed. And most importantly, we will bring glory and honor to God in the process.
I hope this post has been a blessing to you…or maybe if you are like me, it has been a bit uncomfortable because it shines a light on areas in our marriages that could stand a little, or a lot, of tweaking. Whatever the case, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to mold and shape us in to husbands and wives that look more like Jesus.
What marriage advice do you have for young couples? Share it in the comments.
Have a great week!
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