I was recently reflecting on a newly married couples class that is being offered at my church. It made me think about what made my marriage to Rick different. Then it got me thinking about how no one asks my advice on marriage now that I no longer have a spouse. It’s funny how that happens…
Is it because people forget that I was married? Or think I don’t have any advice to offer? Maybe it’s because I lost my spouse, and they don’t want to remind me of it, (like there is ever a minute that goes by that I’m not aware) and make me sad? Whatever the reason, it just doesn’t happen.
If someone were to ask me though, this is what I’d say are the top 3 things you should know.
1.) You married your spouse. They are not your parents, and they are not you. They did not grow up in the same house as you did. They will bring to the marriage different experiences and perspectives. And just because they are different, they are not necessarily bad or wrong. Find out what makes them tick, and what ticks them off. Your dynamic is going to be different than what your parents, grandparents, or even siblings have. Figure out what works for you as a couple, no matter what others have to say. (Remember, they are coming from different experiences and perspectives also.)
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1Peter 4:8
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
2.) The issue at hand is never really the issue at hand. There is always something deeper driving it. Sometimes it’s a past hurt. Sometimes it’s a spiritual battle. Other times it’s an unmet need or desire. What ever the reason, be curious about what’s happening inside them during this time. Take your eyes and thoughts off yourself and try to learn more about your spouse during this time. You’d be surprised at what you learn not only about your spouse, but about yourself.
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:18
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
3.) Keep the line of communication open between the two of you. Your spouse should be a safe space to say things. If you don’t feel like you could say something to your spouse in fear of how they would react, or what they would say or do, then you aren’t being truly honest with them. A healthy marriage is built on trust and honesty. On the flip side, you also need to come to conversations with an open mind and soft heart to whatever your spouse has to say; and keep in mind advise #2. Be someone your spouse can trust with their words and feelings.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to get angry.” James 1:19
There are many other things I could say about marriage, and many ways that made ours stand out. We obviously didn’t have a perfect marriage, who does? But ours was one that was set apart. It’s one that God will have a hard time topping if He wills and graces me with another marriage.
In the mean time, I’ll just sit back and offer my advice, sometimes unsolicited, to those who want to hear it…..and leave you with these verses as a guide to how you should love in your marriage. Take a moment to replace the word “love/it” with your name. Are you reflecting God’s love in your marriage? In your life?
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. ”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a