Sunday, July 26, 2015

15 Things It Took Me 15 Years To Learn About Marriage

I am still happily celebrating 15 years of marriage.  We're a long way from the big "25" or "50" years mark, but for me, every anniversary is a big deal.  I grew up with a worldview that divorce was normal, common, and expected.  I once thought marriage was a "trial run", but now I expect to be running through trials with the same man until we die.  My husband and I have had our share of fun and frustrations, but the freedom we've enjoyed in Christ has been predominant throughout our marriage.  With a broad brush, here are 15 things I've learned that help our marriage be more peaceful and less problematic.

  1. Arguments shouldn’t always be avoided, and are nothing to be ashamed of.  It’s important to develop an “art of arguing” where couples stick to the issues, and are willing to have conflict that produces future peace.  There is tremendous freedom in being able to share one’s feelings without fear, in a way that brings clarity resulting in solutions.

  1. If something about your spouse is frustrating, determine whether his/her action is rooted in sin, personality, or style.  Confront sin, be intrigued by a differing personality, and enjoy laughing at differences in style.

  1. Books and blogs on marriage are great, but nothing can take the place of studying, understanding, and knowing your spouse.  Read your husband/wife and become an expert in him or her.

  1. Most people don’t get what they want in marriage because they don’t ask God for it.  James 4:2-3 is clear - people fight because of their own selfish desires, don’t have what they want because they don’t ask, or they ask with wrong motives that only benefit themselves.  When is the last time you asked God to fix something in your marriage for His glory and not simply for your own convenience?

  1. There is a tremendous satisfaction in persevering through hard times.  One can not experience that kind of unique joy by giving up or giving in to the despair of marital lows and woes. One moment doesn’t define a healthy marriage but a healthy marriage defines each moment.

  1. Since eating is such a daily activity, it is helpful if at least one person in the relationship ENJOYS cooking.  Otherwise, for the rest of life, there is tension.  I've accepted that's just the way it is.

  1. Some marriage problems don’t have solutions this side of heaven.  This is because marriage isn’t a saving agent--it reveals the need for a Savior.

  1. No other marriage should define what is “normal” for others.  If God approves, the best thing couples can do is enjoy each other without comparing themselves to other relationships.

  1. Focusing on the marriage can be dangerous and actually magnifies the source of some problems.  When believers focus on eternal things, they tend to forget about the earthly issues that bother them in the marriage.

  1. As 1 Peter 4:8 says, love really does cover a multitude of offenses.  I’ve had to ask myself, “Is getting mad about ___________worth the wall I’m about to put up between me and my spouse?”

  1. When it comes to each person’s strengths and weaknesses, we have the choice to appreciate or get aggravated.  A family may be happy when everyone sees things the same way, but equal perspective isn’t always helpful.  Some of the things that once created the most tension between me and my husband have brought the most benefit to our household, children, church, and society.   

  1. The easiest thing to do when angry at a spouse is to fight him or her.  Instead, we should be fighting the "cosmic powers over this present darkness" (Eph 6:10).  We need to redirect our anger and get mad at sin, Satan, and the spiritual forces that are damaging our good gift of marriage. 

  1. We should not be surprised that marriage is so much work.  God planned for man and wife to do kingdom work together.  God’s first command to Adam (the first husband) was to work the ground, and then God showed Adam his need for a helper.  We have kingdom jobs to do—WITH our spouse, not AGAINST our spouse.

  1.  The best thing to do when hungry or tired is to shut the mouth until it’s time to eat or sleep.  I take a lot of naps because it’s better to drool on my pillow than duel with my partner.

  1. It’s important to keep priorities in order. Contrary to a few books, one doesn’t need to make the bed every day to be a good wife or start the day well.  There are other things to be done in that marriage bed.  Take “frequent and fun” over “spick and span”.