“Give it another ten years, and then see how much you like each other. You will be more alike than ever, and he won’t value a word you say.” Actual phrasing from a conversation about my marriage a few months ago. The bad part is, I let it worry me for months. My conversation had been with someone who was older than myself with many more years in marriage under her belt. There are so many marriages that struggle, many that seem unhappy or less than genuine, so who am I to think we will be better than these people? We are young in our marriage, only a year and a half into our journey. What do we know?
Comparison, judgement, and “wise words” can rob us of what we know to be true of our own relationships. But words delivered with good intent can inspire and teach us about marriage in ways that will benefit us. I value the experience and input of others to aid me on my journey as a wife. Personally I love to hear stories and examples from others about their years of marriage. There is something special about hearing from other women about their journey to become wives, whether through struggles or simpler times. It is also important to learn from those who’ve had hard times, who may not have made it in their marriage, or who are not experiencing Godly marriages. The book of Titus gives specific instructions that more experienced women are called to share with younger women.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. – Titus 2:3-5
Note that the instruction is not to take the word of what worked for the more experienced woman as the secret recipe for a happy marriage, nor does it say that a bitter word should be taken to heart or cause for worry. The months I spent with someone’s off-hand comment coming to mind anytime I was frustrated with my husband did no good for myself or my marriage. This was not the type of advice that I should have allowed to impact me-it was not Biblically based, of good Christian spirit, or coming from a happy marriage-but nonetheless it remained in my mind mixed in with the solid advice I had received elsewhere.
For the women more senior in their marriage experience, the younger women of this world need you! But they need you in love, understanding, and excitement for their lives. There is nothing more defeating or frustrating as a newly married woman than to hear another continuously downplay your love as “newlywed bliss” or to discuss the inevitability of your marriage becoming mundane. Your knowledge in both the positives and negatives is needed-even pieces that you feel are simply part of your every day life could be useful to someone much newer. So share your secrets! But please do so without the laughter of judgement in your voice as the young woman you speak with shines with love and excitement.
How do you begin to merge two lives into one?
Entering into marriage as two separate lives was certainly challenging, especially in the pre-marital stage. Joining two personalities to become a single team, regardless of how long you have been together, is far different than could ever be imagined. Both my husband and I had entered into adult responsibilities by the time we were married, and both had experienced serious relationships prior to meeting each other. We both had past influences that were present when we began dating, and we had our own issues to work through. Even more of a concern, we were unequally yoked when we started dating. I am happy to say that this was not the case by the time we were engaged, but it was one more issue that we had to sort out if we were to ever become a permanent union in God’s eyes.
There are so many little parts that make up who we are that have to meld together to make a neat little package for marriage to work. How does it work out? We personally went through a few channels that led to a mostly pleasant transition. (Disclaimer: These are steps we took and do not apply to every situation. I am only providing personal and Biblical input here. I would be happy to share any advice or opinions on other situations. Contact me if you want to chat!)
- Premarital counseling
- Part of the requirement through our church to be married by any of the pastors is a round of premarital counseling. We spent several fantastic evenings with friends of ours, who also happened to be the pastor who would marry us and his wife, as they spoke into us about Biblical marriage. It was a great experience to have a couple successful in their marriage speak into our relationship. I learned so much about being a submissive wife from a woman I looked up to. My husband was challenged to become an even more Godly man for our household. We covered Preparing for Marriage by Dennis Rainey if you are looking for a good resource.
- Realistic conversations
- We discussed the hard things and the easy. Heart breaks, drug influences, family issues, and insecurities were all topics we laid out on the table. We had talked often and at length about many things during our dating relationship. But there comes a time when you prepare to marry someone that all of the deep, dark pieces need to see the light. Think about it this way: what would you not want your spouse to learn about you by surprise? Share the details, then move on.
- Dreams and goals
- Cliche as it sounds, we discussed our dreams and goals. How many children, what size of house, dream vacations, lifestyle choices, and the list goes on. It was fun to hear about the hopes in my man’s heart now that they were a realistic possibility. It also gave us a starting point when we reached stages in our lives when we could begin actually planning for these things!
What would I have written about back then when I thought about what would make our marriage work: balance. I would have gone to length about how hobbies and time spent in our own jobs would balance the time we spend together at home to make the perfect blend. What would I tell you works in reality for our marriage: grace and laughter. He is my best friend and that truly is what makes us work. At another time I will describe how we function as a unit, and you can see here how submission alongside leadership play a role in our lives. But ultimately grace modeled after what God grants us allows us to not fight and to handle disputes easily enough. We learned quickly that holding onto faults and staying mad got us nowhere, so we dropped it. We have fun together in the simple things in life, and those are the moments I think on after a long day.
My marriage is a happy one, and I don’t feel the need to flaunt it around to prove that my relationship with my husband is a solid one. We enjoy each other and are excited by the small things in doing life together. Life will become harder as we are starting our family with our first child, and new stresses come along with job changes. But the real reasons we are happy and elements of our marriage do not have to change due to these things. If I have learned anything from those who have spoken into my marriage or lead by example, it is that a focus on God with my husband’s hand in mine is all I need to endure the pressures of life. We can, and will, have a happy marriage that lasts for many, many years. I hope we do become more alike than ever, and grow old together. If we are living our lives to serve the Lord and His calling on our lives, I have no fears or reservations about what life will hold for us.
I have never truly felt the full mean of the popular Proverb “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” (31:25). But the combination of my God in my heart and the man He made to be my other half beside me fills me with a steady calm.
What have you experienced in your marriage that has challenged or strengthened you? Let’s chat!