As some of you may or may not know. I am engaged and will be married exactly 6 months from today. In order to mark the last leg of my engagement I want to ask for some practical advice on making marriage work in a society that believes in throw-away and starter marriages. My parents have been married for 26 years and my fiancees for nearly 30 so we have good examples in our homes.
What do you think? I know some of you have been married for decades and some for only a few years. I'm leaving this up to you.... Please don't write a doctorate level thesis, just keep things short and practical. Also, I love the Bible. I teach it to 6th, 11th, and 12th grade students daily at work. My fiancee and I have attended marriage seminars and pre-marital counseling since before we were engaged. Basically what I mean here is...Don't rattle of Ephesians 5 or 1 Corinthians 13 unless you have some revelation in light of those passages that I have never heard or though of.
I thank you in advance for your time.
Also, as a side note, I am taking some tine away from the internet and from the computer in general. I am on Christmas break now and I spend way too much time on here for work. I am shutting the computer down and not turning it on for probably close to a week.
Congrats Jeff! Marriage is a wonderful and rewarding challenge. I cannot say that I have received any advice on the subject worth a darn (other than that of the Church), and I doubt that I will do much better. Examples have been important to my wife and me (her parents been together 28 years, mine 26), but do not assume these people have some sort of secret. The success in these matters seems to me to be subconscious.
Congrats! I am one year yesterday and all is well! The biggest thing is to always be open! Make sure there are no assumptions as to who has what task, break down any necessary chores, go back and reevaluate after a few months to make sure no one has any animosity over someone have or not having a certain duty.
Also, always remember, if she is mad, there's probably an underlying cause and not just whatever she says is making her mad, get to the root cause and make sure nothing festers!
It's all about realizing it's a partnership and working together. My first year has been great and I know yours can be, as well!
You will quickly discover that neither of you is God's gift to the opposite sex. Whoever said, "Love means never having to say 'I'm sorry,'" was an absolute moron. Love means saying, "I'm sorry," early and often. Acknowledge that you've hurt her (whether you meant to or not) and ask her forgiveness.
Conversely, don't hold things against her. By all means, clear the air, but don't hold anything over her head. You're there to love and protect her, not judge her and destroy her spirit. Be prepared to let go of your "right" to justice. Justice is what you seek from an enemy; what you're seeking with your wife is unity. Your wife is your friend, your partner in the battle of life; don't allow yourself to be tricked into believing that she's your enemy.
"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against...the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:11-12)
Congratulations Jeff, Here are my only pieces of advice. first, learn how to fight fairly. What I mean by that is you are two people and as such you will have differences of opinions. and really it is probably those differences that make you work now, so keep them. Fighting about them fairly means that you don't belittle each other, respect each other, never call names, and realize that those differences are necessary to keep each other intereting.
Chris Rock once had a comedy bit about old couples that don't talk anymore, and the reason wasn't that they didn't love each other, but rather because they had already told each other all of their stories. So the next thing is as much as you love being together, spend some time apart. Get some new stories every now and then.
Finally tell each other that you love each other, even when you are mad at each other. Just because you are mad doesn't mean that the love goes away.
As a pastor, I get to talk to young (and not so young) couples who are headed to the altar on a regular basis.
First, if you have not done and inventory together, I recommend that you do, you will learn a lot about yourselves and each other. The one that I use is called Zoe Scores, you can google it.
I also would ask you individually if you can be completely yourself in front of your intended spouse. It is important that you don't have to put on an act in front of her. I can say or do pretty much anything that I want in front of my wife and she usually is either fine with it or points and laughs at and or with me. I picked one that adores me and is my biggest fan and I am hers. That is another point, it is easy to love your wife, you are commanded by God to do that, but liking her is a different story. Make sure that you like your wife and let her know that you are a fan too.
Finally for the spiritual side, as I am a pastor after all.
There are only two items needed for a marriage in your house, a bed and a table. God created us to be married so that we might share a communion of sorts. The bed for sexual communion and the table for another sort of communion. Couples who sleep together and who eat together do much better than those who don't. These are the first questions I ask couples who are having a bad marriage. I find that usually, they aren't sharing a common meal every day and do not go to bed at the same time.
There are other things like making sure that your and her expectations of each other are not too high. You are both sinners and you both need God's mercy and forgiveness. Even as you have been forgiven all of your sins before you could even ask (see the parable of the prodigal son) so you too need to be willing to forgive.
Marriage is not easy, nor should it be hard. In some ways it will enrich your life and in other ways it will restrict your life. Take the good and count it as a blessing, a precious gift from God.
Also - I recommend the book - "The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage"
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