When I look at our wedding picture I am filled with gratitude and sadness. Sadness because our marriage almost ended 4 years in (filed for divorce and all), but gratitude because God redeemed both Justin and I, and that redemption saved our marriage. We are unfortunately one of those couples that have taken the hard way to learn some important lessons. By no means do we have it all figured out, but this is just a list of what we have learned along the way. So for any of you engaged, newly married, thinking about getting married, or those who’ve been married, I hope you all get something out of this.
10. I Stink As A Person
One thing is for sure, marriage provides the perfect opportunity to face the faults in us. I’ve heard some people compare marriage to a mirror, it’s a place where we can take a hard look at ourselves. When I do not let pride blind me of my wrongs, I have seen the frailty of my humanity on an almost daily basis. When I realize I fail as a human and fail to love God and other’s well, then I am willing to accept the faults that create struggles in a marriage.
9. Most Of The Time When I Find Fault In My Husband, There Is Some Fault In Me Encouraging Me To Point The Finger Toward Him
This goes along with number 10, but on a whole new level. You know that self-righteous attitude we can get when our spouse does something wrong or hurts us? Yeah, well I have learned that God usually has something to work out in me as well. Things like: loving my husband despite his faults (Matthew 5:43-48), trusting God more than my husband (Proverbs 3:5-6), letting my words be sweet and encouraging, instead of harsh and condemning (Proverbs 15:1). When God opened my eyes to the fact that those times were just as much a time for Him to work things out in me, it really helped me to not be so prideful, arrogant, and fixated on my husband’s faults. It also made me fall more in love with God, because He was really using all things for His good.
8. Working Through The Tough Times Makes The Good Times That Much Better
Two weeks after we married I started graduate school and my husband was still pursuing his undergraduate degree. We made a low/moderate income, lived in some questionable places, quickly became pregnant, lost 7 babies, struggled to pay off debts, lost a job, had to rent out a house we couldn’t sell (and the list goes one)… On the positive side, over the last 10 years our family has grown to be a family of 5, my husband has graduated; he landed an awesome job and he recently earned his landscape architecture license. Going through the tough times when there was no light at the end of the tunnel has made the good times that much brighter! We appreciate the good times because we have been through some difficult times. And it is a true joy to walk through all those times with the same person and then embrace them as you are on the other side. It is hard to walk in life with someone as they are being refined, but it is a joy to see the good work God has done in them.
7. The More Respect And Trust We’ve Gained For One Another, The Better The Sex
There is a reason God intended sex to be shared between a man and woman in the marriage bed. It is hard to develop the intimacy required to enjoy sex when there is not trust between the man and woman. And the more we’ve grown as one as a couple, the more our sex life has turned into a worship experience, just as God intended it to be. It is a beautiful act of love that is only truly enjoyed the way God designed it, as we are spiritually naked before one another. We know each other’s flaws and love each other despite of them, and we work hard to make sure there is honesty between us because dishonesty makes us feel unworthy to be with the other intimately. The more I trust him, the more I enjoy sharing the most intimate act between husband and wife.
6. Friends Are Crucial
Be wise in who you choose to hang out with. You want friends who support your marriage and your spouse. When times get tough (and they will), you want friends who will love you (and your spouse) and speak Godly wisdom to you. I have a core group of ladies that I turn to for prayers, encouragement, and admonishment. When I stink as a wife I trust they will call me out. When all I’m doing is seeing the bad in my husband, they help me to see him as the child of God he is and the truth that I can take all my cares and worries to God. At different points in our marriage I did not have friends like these and it was to the detriment of our marriage.
5. Enjoy One Another And Have Fun Together
Life is hard and there are many hills and valleys, but this is the reason God said Adam needed a helper and created marriage. Find something you two can enjoy together and carve out time to do that together. It can be as simple as watching a favorite TV show together. If you find yourself enjoying your time with your friends more than your spouse, then you need to fight to enjoy your time with your spouse. There was a point in your relationship when you enjoyed each other, and if you didn’t, then you wouldn’t have gotten married. Get back to that, fight for that, even when you don’t feel like fighting.
4. When My Husband Has A Struggle/Hurts Me, I’ve Started Seeing Him More As A Brother In Christ Instead Of My Spouse
This keeps me from being bitter about the impact of his struggles on me/our marriage/our kids. This also gets me into prayer mode. I want to fight for my husband who is hurting and fight for my husband when he can’t fight for himself. I think about Aaron holding up Moses arms when he didn’t have the strength on his own. It’s so easy to tell my husband how he’s wrong or messed up, but sometimes doing that keeps him down. And I don’t want him down, I want him to be walking in the freedom he has in Christ. I want to fight for him to see himself as God sees him.
3. Being A Team Is Necessary
This is not about agreeing on all things, this is about knowing your spouse. Cutting time out in your day to sit down and talk with one another. Asking how their day was, how are they doing spiritually, what is God teaching them. At first it might start out awkward and then it will feel natural. You will probably get to a point where you throw away the pre-set questions. Why is this important? God told Adam he needed a helper. Yes, someone to share the household/childbearing duties with, but more than that, your spouse is someone who will labor with you in your walk with God. What a powerful team we make when we know how to pray and encourage one another.
2. My Trust Needs To Be In God
When I see my husband struggling in an area, I need to know I do not have what it takes to change him. My words are not going to be the magical potion that miraculously wakes him up to see my way is better. In the last year I have really been working on taking my thoughts/fears/anxieties to God. When I do that and I sincerely put my trust in God’s hands, then my fear and anxiety diminishes. It might come back up in a day or two, but I know I can take it to God. I trust that God is more able to do the work in my husband that He knows needs to happen.
1. I Need Jesus EVERY, SINGLE, DAY
I can’t love my husband on my own because my love is self serving and self seeking. It’s only when I focus on the love God poured out for me through Jesus’ death and resurrection on the cross that I can then love my husband well. When I see my need, desperation, and where my life would be without Jesus’ sacrifice, then I am willing to lavish that on my husband. This takes me leaning into God daily through prayer and time in His Word. It is then He is able to transform that selfish love into a selfless love. And let me tell you, there is so much joy in being filled with Christ’s love and then letting that pour out onto your spouse. I also can’t forgive without Christ. Yes my husband makes mistakes. Yours doesn’t? Well aren’t you lucky :). I’ve tried forgiving on my own and that led me to my friend called bitterness. I hung out with bitterness for a long time and then Christ showed me what He meant about forgiving others. The forgiveness God calls us to is a liberating place to be.
As I stated earlier, we are still a work in progress and these are just some things God has taught me in our ten years of marriage. I am sure there are couples out there that have been married longer and can speak even more wisdom into a healthy marriage. And to be honest, these lessons reach far beyond our marriage; I have learned this is how I need to do life with others. I realize that a lot of these are contrary to the way we see life being lived out by those in the world and it is only through your time with God that He will be able to transform and do this work in you. Today, be encouraged though, no matter the state of your marriage, God is able to do great and amazing things. We know from experience!