Marriage is definitely not always easy. We have been at this whole marriage thing for about 6 months now, and we have definitely had our ups and our downs. When you get married – everything is magnified... The good, the bad and the ugly.
Learning to live with someone, to share a small space with someone, and to be with someone every minute of every day requires you to spend a lot of time looking inward. It forces you to look at your own heart, face your failures and short comings, and rely on God to help you overcome and correct the selfishness that naturally impacts your attitude and decisions.
Leading up to marriage, people would always tell us "All of your issues and disagreements will only grow in marriage”. But to us, this seemed like a distant theory, something that would only marginally impact us, if at all. Once we got married, though, we quickly realized that the wisdom that was given to us throughout our engagement was spot on.
As we have progressed and grown together, we have come to realize that this process of dying to yourself for the sake of someone else is really an incredible process. While extremely difficult and oftentimes just down right painful, it quickly and dramatically forces you to change from the inside out. These changes bring about more positive outlooks on situations, and a stronger dependence on Christ.
A couple of tips for any couples engaged or newly married:
Learn To Pray Together: One of the biggest blessings in a Christian marriage is the common ground shared through faith. Regardless of the situation, disagreement, or frustration, we are able to constantly and continuously fall back on our faith as our baseline, our source of truth, and our guiding principles. When the going gets rough, we stop, hold hands, and pray together. Ron and I have worship sessions at least once a week, where we play a good song, get on our knees, and just worship Jesus together. We also pray together each morning for the day ahead. Through this, we are able to see more clearly, understand more deeply, and love more gently.
Set “Rules of Engagement”: Decide in advance what lines will not be crossed. In disagreements, people tend to “fight unfairly”. Have a conversation in advance, and make an agreement to stay within certain boundaries. By doing this, you ensure that you don’t cause irreparable damage while fighting. Ron and I had no idea about "rules of engagement", but it felt like a blessing when we found out about them. Both of us never knew how to disagree in a healthy way. Things got loud, fast. We said things we didn't mean. We both stormed away from each other and even slammed doors. But now, we have boundaries that help us stay respectful, even in the midst of the tsunami of emotions.
Determine That Your Happiness Together Is More Important Than Your Happiness Apart: If you constantly live to make the others happy, then your selflessness will be met with selflessness from your spouse, and as a result, you will both feel free, loved, and known. It's easy to fall into the trap of wanting more or thinking you may be much better on your own- but fight against that. Make a commitment to see yourselves as one flesh.
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down While You Are Mad: It doesn’t matter how hard we have fought, how far apart our thinking has been, or how frustrated we may be. We refuse to go to sleep if we haven’t reconciled. On occasion, we have stayed up until day break trying to work through an issue. But even if that happens, we do not allow ourselves to sleep on anger or frustration.
Go On Weekly Dates: Spend time together away from work or the to-do list at home. Sometimes that means scheduling in advance and other times it looks like spontaneous dates on a random afternoon. Go skating or canoeing, take a walk together, or simply watch your favorite movie while curled up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn, whatever the date may look like, make it a priority. Stay connected and don't let the business of life get in the way of your time together.
Learn Each Other's Love Languages: Learn how your spouse receives love so that you can have a better idea of the ways in which you can give them love. Everyone has a different love language and it can be such a beautiful thing to be in a relationship where you are both catering to each others love languages. Maybe your spouse feels loved when you give them gifts, or maybe they really appreciate kind words and hand written letters. Perhaps they need to be close to you because physical touch is how they receive love, or maybe they feel most loved when you express acts of service (like unloading the dishwasher), or perhaps they just need quality time with you. Whatever it may look like, it is super helpful if you both are aware of each other's love languages and do your best to consider these when interacting with one another.
Marriage is a beautiful thing. It’s a way that two people can become one. Where they can see and know the depths of each other, more than anyone else. It’s a gift from God, and a gift worth protecting. By keeping Christ at the center of your relationship, you will find that the demands and stresses of marriage will eventually lead to a closer bond and deeper connection with your spouse.
Take time with your spouse to figure out what tips you want to implement into your marriage and then watch it thrive. Marriages need continuous care and effort...You cannot assume everything is fine and push through life without really taking care of the relationship you have with your spouse. This is why it is so important to implement tools and guidelines that will help support your marriage during the good times and the bad.