It was the fall of 2008. I’d met a girl and I couldn’t get her out of my mind. She was everything I desired in a wife. I decided that I wanted to marry her… before we’d even gone on our first date.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I wasn’t a hopeless romantic pursuing some unsuspecting gal from a distance. We had gotten to know each other in the company of mutual friends over the course of several months.
I had a window with which to look into her life as we spent time together in the same church community. It was there that I knew she would make a good wife. And she has.
Our marriage has been through its fair share of challenges, but we’ve grown closer to the Lord and one another as we enjoy Jesus together. If, however, my married self could turn back time, I’d tell my engaged self these seven lessons learned from seven years of marriage.
Some Practical Christian Marriage Advice for Newlyweds
1. The “Honeymoon Phase” is a blast, but it’s superficial.
Like most newlyweds, my wife and I went through an extended period of blissful romance. We were so preoccupied with one another’s affection that the world around us faded from view.
This was a wonderful season, but our emotional high would soon wear off. If we didn’t build our marriage on something stronger than our feelings things would go bad as soon as the warm fuzzies were gone. Be wise, pay at least as much attention to the Gospel foundation you need to lay in your marriage as you do the feelings you get from your marriage.
2. Don’t expect your spouse to “complete” you.
Too many people look for a spouse to meet a deep sense of need in their own lives. They long for comfort, significance, approval, etc. and they think that a spouse will be their endless supply of security and satisfaction. I can tell you that is not true. A spouse can meet our needs to a degree, but not in full. Only Jesus can do that. Don’t expect your spouse to be and do for you what only Jesus can be and do for you.
If you “need” your spouse, you are using your spouse, not loving them. This is true because your love will always have strings attached. It’s only when your needs are fulfilled in Christ that you are free to love your spouse without needing anything from them in return.
3. The importance of communication cannot be overstated.
Almost every conflict in our marriage has been related to a lack of communication. When we’re not communicating about both our outer and inner life, we’re headed for trouble. At the same time, our most mutual and meaningful moments have come from open and honest communication about everything from what happened in our day to what’s going on in the deepest parts of our being.
Don’t assume that your spouse knows what you’re thinking and feeling. Tell them. Don’t be afraid to ask either. If you’re not sure what your spouse is thinking or feeling, ask them. That’s the quickest way to find out.
4. Catch the foxes.
In the Song of Solomon 2:15, Solomon’s bride poetically calls him to catch the little foxes that ruin their vineyard. Little foxes are the subtle influences that often go unnoticed in a relationship. You’ve got to identify the habits that could sabotage your marriage and deal with them, quick.
Cell phone interruptions, distracted conversation and being present, but not all there. These things, like small roots growing beneath a city sidewalk, will eventually crack and destroy your marriage if you don’t identify and remove them.
5. Seek to understand your spouse rather than to be understood by your spouse.
Failure to understand one another has often been the underlying culprit for any lack of marital intimacy that we’ve experienced. We so often try too hard to make our spouse “get us” that we fail to get them in the process. When we focus our attention on ourselves, we kill the intimacy. When we focus our attention on our spouse we foster it. Take the time to listen, to ask questions and to really get your spouse. Your spouse will likely do the same for you.
6. Avoid comparing your strengths to your spouse’s weaknesses.
It can be tempting to critique your spouse in an area of your strength during a disagreement, but that’s not fair. You will always win that argument. And, when you do, you’ll have nothing to show for it except a fractured marriage. This approach is gratifying, but destructive. Don’t take that bait. Instead, aim for objective dialogue about the circumstance itself. This will help both of you grow without fueling a sense of self-centered pride.
7. Have lots of fun. Laughter is a good sign of marital health.
God gave us life so that we can enjoy it. Newlyweds are often told that marriage is for holiness, not just for happiness, but the opposite is also true. Marriage is as much for happiness as it is for holiness. The key is to take hold of one, without letting go of the other. Pursue holiness in your marriage with great vigor and pursue happiness in your marriage with just as much. Tell jokes, be silly, go on dates, drink deep and suck the morrow out of life. For in this we get a taste of heaven.
These are the lessons that the Lord has taught us as husband and wife. We’ve enjoyed seven quality years of marriage and with these seven practices; we hope to enjoy many more.
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