I was sitting on the plane beside my husband getting ready to go on our honeymoon. I’d never been on a plane before let alone over 2,000 miles away from my family. I looked out of the window to see my Mom, Dad, and sister waving in the window. All of a sudden, I realized that I wanted my Daddy! The man who’d protected me, and made sure that I was taken care of… The man who’d taken me in for stitches, knew that I’d need health insurance with my accident-prone self, the man who could pick me up and carry me to help if needed… How was this barely out of teenage-hood husband going to take care of me if he didn’t know me! Now, mind you, we had dated off and on throughout our teenage years, but he didn’t understand me like my Daddy!
The flight attendant spoke to everyone on the flight just then: “Folks, we have over-booked this flight. Would anyone be willing to get on a later flight, and receive extra flight miles compensation?” I didn’t care what that meant, but I knew I could get off right then. I started to stand, and my husband grabbed my hand, and shook his head, “no.” But… But… As we took off, I cried. I knew they were crying, too. This was my new life. The man beside me would now take care of me. He would learn how to love me the way I needed. But I prayed with all my might that I could feel God’s presence with me, and that it would be okay.
As you embark on this new journey, you may very well be thinking, “We’ve got what many couples lack: True Love. All you need is Love.” But as the infatuation fades, and you are left with the hard work of building a love that lasts, I would like to prepare you with some wisdom that I have learned that I hope may help you on your new endeavor. Here are Some Gems I’ve Found in My Marriage that I Treasure…
#1 Know Thyself and to Thine Own Self Be True
Runaway Bride is one of my favorite movies. I laugh so hard at how she bolts in many various, spontaneous ways. But, I also love the moral. She was trying so hard to be what each potential spouse wanted her to be, and yet, she had no idea who she was. Even in my own life, I realized that I did the same thing. I wore red, because my husband liked it on me. I went along to every big event that he wanted me to until my body crashed again and again. So, if you don’t like eggs, you don’t have to eat them because your spouse tells you to. Do what’s right for you, and respect that your spouse may like something different.
#2 Make sure that Heavenly Father is FIRST in your life.
This person beside you may some days feel like a stranger to you. You may wonder how you can be so far apart and yet live together. You may not even like that person some days. But your Father in Heaven LOVES you and your spouse more than anyone ever could. He knows what each of you NEED. He knows the DESIRES of your hearts. He wants you to feel and BE LOVED because He IS love. Spend time with Him alone everyday. Talk to Him about your frustrations and express your thankfulness to Him at all times. You Never Have to Feel Alone. ❤
#3 PRAY FOR your spouse.
My mother warned me that there would be times that I wouldn’t like my spouse at all. I didn’t believe her until it happened to me after being married only 3yrs. But what did God ask me to do for him? Pray for him. That ONE change for me made all the difference. I didn’t want to. I was so angry at what I felt was mistreatment, that I wanted revenge. But I prayed for him because God asked me to.
#4 LOVE your spouse.
I don’t mean the passive meaning of “I love my spouse” I mean to actually DO it. Evaluate the Love Languages. Each person needs to know that they are loved in EVERY way, but there is one or two things that your spouse will crave to FEEL loved. Find out which one your spouse craves, and make sure that they are getting what they need. Find out which one you crave, and ask for it; teach your spouse how to love you better. And until they’ve got it down, keep asking God to show you that He loves you. When I craved hugs, my kids were more than willing. When I craved conversation, God gave me a couple of girl friends to fill that role. And in ANY of these love languages, do not intentionally deprive yourself or your spouse. I do not deserve… they do not deserve… it’s not about deserving love. Jesus’ Love is Unconditional, and being a follower of Him means that we are trying to be LIKE Him.
#5 Try to UNDERSTAND your spouse.
My husband and I decided to go on a marriage retreat with our church group. It was super fun to hang out with married couples. The one thing that I left with, though, was how we responded differently because of a personality assessment. Since then, I have researched and wanted to understand more: from the Greek Personality Profile to The Color Code to whatever the popular trend is. BUT Nothing has helped me more than the Dressing Your Truth program. I learned how our doodling, way of processing things, voice pitch, facial features, body shape, and body movement all fit into our energy type BECAUSE it’s how God made us. I was able to see that my greatest weaknesses were also my strengths depending on how I used them NOT depending on how other’s saw me. I am not only happy with who I am, but I am so grateful for how I can see, now, that my husband complements me.
#6 Be GRATEFUL.
Many spouses gripe about the things that they don’t like about their spouse, or nag their spouse to do what they want. “I don’t like the way he leaves the toothpaste lid off of the toothpaste… the toilet paper roll is the wrong way… the dirty clothes all over the floor… the house is too messy.” If you concentrate only on the things that you don’t like about your spouse, that is ALL that you will see. If you concentrate on the things that you LOVE about your spouse, you will see MORE of what you love. It is totally okay to respectfully and lovingly address things that you feel are hurtful or that you or your spouse could be better at. But it is NOT okay to be critical, to nag, or to publicly humiliate your spouse to get what you want… even if it’s a “joke.”
#7 Take a Time Out BEFORE things get too Heated.
Watching my parents argue, my mother would follow my dad and make him talk. Eventually, my dad would end up angry and he’d walk off mad. My husband would do the same thing and follow me when I walked away. Each person has the ability to gauge when they are too angry to think clearly. When you feel that trigger, take a time-out. WALK AWAY when you’re angry, and COME BACK when you’ve cooled off to talk again as many times and as long as it takes! No, it doesn’t have to be in the same night. Many people use the scripture “don’t let the sun go down on your anger” as a sermon on getting over being angry fast or hurry up and solve it before you go to bed. Some things are not that easily solvable. But taking a time-out from that subject, or even a cool-down time and coming back to talk about it when you’re ready, helps to solve things as companions not as opponents.
#8 Pornography is NOT a way to become closer together.
“Well maybe if we took pictures of… or imitated this action… or had multiple partners…” Seriously, if you want to be closer to your spouse, be close to God FIRST. The closer you are to Him, the more you try to be like Jesus, the more that the Spirit reigns in your home, the closer and more Passionate you will be together. My husband likes to say that ANY addiction that you have is trying to fill a God-shaped hole in your soul. When you fill yourself with God’s Love, God’s Word, and God’s Spirit, you won’t expect someone or something else to make you feel good. You will feel fulfilled.
#9 Counseling is for those Willing to Work it Out
I can’t tell you how many jokes I’ve heard as reasoning NOT to see a counselor; “I can’t see a ‘shrink.'” “I’m not crazy, so I’m still good.” “People can just put up with my insanity if they really love me.” After the loss of our first baby, my husband and I were fighting non-stop, and he finally agreed to see a counselor with me… to prove that I was crazy and needed help… my motives weren’t any better. We had been taught through our prior experiences that “counseling was for crazy people.” Please do not fall for this misconception. We were healed through counseling… a few times for different reasons. Needless to say, my husband had changed his mind about counseling and decided to pursue his calling in life to be a counselor and help others like us. If you are physically injured or in pain, you’d see a doctor. You don’t only have one physical pain in your life. If you need help working through some things mentally, see a counselor, so that it DOESN’T get out of hand, and be life-threatening, or marriage-threatening.
#10 Make Plans Together
So, for this last one, I thought I would combine all of the things that others have told me they wished they had known. This includes: Time Management, Budgeting, Cleaning, Cooking, and Parenting to name a few. These are things that you can discuss together, grow together, change together, and grow some more together. What you VALUE will be what you give your time, money, and energy to. If you value your job MORE than your spouse, your time management will focus around your job. If you value your children more than your spouse, your budget and time will show them as your priorities. If you want to make your marriage work, your spouse comes second only to God. If you want to be healthy, you need that alone time with God, time to rest, and time to play, as well as, work. If you want your parenting relationships to work, you need to find ways to spend time individually with each child. Your job should support these priorities. Your friends should support these priorities. Only a strong marriage union, can hope to become a strong family union. And only two people fully dependent on God individually, can hope to have a strong marriage union.