Marriage: Starting from Scratch
Marriage is a tough subject. Untold numbers of books have been written on the matter, some from a worldly, sensual perspective and some from a godly, sacrificial perspective. With a million perspectives flying around on what marriage is and what it isn’t and what it’s supposed to look like and what it’s not supposed to look like, where are you to turn? And does any couple actually live “happily ever after?” The answer to the first question is simple enough, the Bible. For me and my wife, the Bible serves as a blueprint for marriage. Unlike any other book, it is a living word, so it’s never outdated. And it’s the only book where the Author is present every time you open it up. From it we’ve learned timeless truths like: “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,” “Love is patient and kind, not jealous, boastful, proud, or rude,” and “A gentle word brings life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” And to the second question, my wife and I believe that couples are not called to live “happily ever after”, as that’s resigned to fairy tales. However, in the real world with all of its harsh realities, we can have joy, even joy unspeakable and full of glory. There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness depends on what happens; joy is something that comes from God. The world didn’t give you joy so it has no ability to take it away from you. We as married couples are called to live and operate in joy. So when the bills are due, when your spouse’s health is failing, when you don’t know how you’re going to make it one more day, you can still operate in joy. Joy doesn’t deny the reality of your situation; it simply says that my God is bigger than any situation the world can throw at me. And after I come out of the situation, I will get double for my trouble!! Now what’s not to have joy about??
Marriage, similar to one’s faith, is a marathon with hurdles, not a sprint. As my wife and I run our race, there are relational principles that we’ve stumbled upon along the way that have helped us to become more like the couple we’ve envisioned ourselves becoming.
It’s important that you and your spouse have the same belief-system. It’s important that you’ve accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and that you do your best to follow Him individually and collectively. It’s important that both of you have a personal, love relationship with God. It’s important that you attend church together regularly and play an active role in your church. It’s important that you pray individually and together, daily. If your foundation is rooted and grounded in Christ, when the storms of life hit, you won’t be moved.
- Manage Your Expectations
We all go into marriage assuming that it’s going to be one way and for most of us it turns out to be the very opposite or at the very least, not what we expected. And because we expected things to be different than what reality is showing us, we sometimes get angry then bitter, etc. During our first year of marriage, we struggled heavily in this area. We both had preconceived notions of what marriage is, our roles in the marriage, and the direction of our marriage. We had to learn how to surrender. To be honest, we’ve found that the only way to manage you expectations is to give them to God. God will purify them, take the selfishness out of them, and present them to you for you to loving share with your spouse.
You’re accountable to someone else now. It took us a while to grasp this concept. Everything you do good or bad affects your spouse; every thought you have good or bad affects your spouse. We should never do something that we wouldn’t want our spouse to do. It takes a while to mentally shift from thinking selfishly to sacrificially, a lifetime. And when we miss the mark, we have to make ourselves accountable to our spouse and not wait for the situation to announce our mistake(s).
- Allow Parameters Within Relationships to Shift
Now that you’re married and spending the majority of your time with your spouse, you have less time for family and friends. Some relationships evolve, others are redefined, and others are released. We are learning to be okay with God’s divine shifting in our relationships.
- Manage Your Emotions
Don’t get upset if what excites you doesn’t excite your spouse. Celebrate your spouse’s individuality. Believe the best about your spouse and not the worst. Don’t hold grudges. Forgive and move on. When in doubt, pray. Surround yourself with positive, godly people. Do the right thing even when your spouse is doing the wrong thing. Get off the “tit for tat” roller coaster. Do the best you can do, then give it to God. Don’t worry, just give it to God. If you are worrying after you gave it to God that means you picked it back up gain. Hang around with emotionally balanced people. Crave peace. Read the Bible. Memorize scriptures that speak to your specific situation. Watch your words. Speak life to yourself and others. Monitor what you watch on TV and what you listen to. I’ve always acted a little thuggish after listening to Biggie Smalls (Notorious Big).
- Take Time for Spiritual, Mental, and Physical Growth
We are tripartite beings, meaning that we are comprised of the spirit, soul, and the body, and they all need to be exercised daily. My wife and I pray and read the Bible daily. We’re also working on being more consistent with our devotional reading. We attend church weekly and watch ministers we like on Youtube throughout the week. We’re both in school presently, so we’re more than exercising our minds. And we go to the gym together at least three times a week. Most people take care of their bodies when they’re dating, but when they get married they let themselves go. If anything, it should be the opposite. When you’re married, you should take better care of yourself, because this is the only other person that you will ever give yourself to. You should always want to present your best self to your spouse.
- Marriage Is Work
Marriage is work. You have to approach marriage like your still dating the other person, trying to make them your own. Never take them for granted. Don’t get too comfortable. Keep your word. Say “I’m sorry”, “I love you”, and “Thank you.” Be a gentleman. Be a lady. Keep yourself presentable. Have a weekly date night. Don’t dismiss what’s important to the other. Study each other. Earn a PhD in everything that relates to your spouse. Learn your spouse’s love language. Work on your intimacy. Sex is important… so make sure you’re fed at home so you won’t be hungry in the streets. Divorce should never be an option.
- Protect Your Marriage
Protect your marriage in the decisions your make and the words you say. Don’t allow any unconfessed sin to remain in your life. Don’t watch pornography, it gives the devil a foothold in your marriage. Don’t resurrect friendships with ex’s on Facebook. Be careful about hanging out with people that don’t honor marriage the way you honor marriage.
- Role of the Husband
In addition to providing for the home, I believe the husband is called to be the thermostat in the home. He is the priest of the home. As such, I pray with my wife during the day and over her before going to work in the morning. We talk throughout the day, so I know what to pray for when I’m taking to the Father about her. I initiate Bible reading time, prayer time, and I drive us to church on Sundays. As men, the closer we become with God, the better husbands we’ll be.
Dia and Doug Phillips
Celebrating 3 years of marriage on 11/11/14Share on Facebook