What do you get when two flawed humans get married? Hard work! Marriage is not easy, it takes effort from both spouses to make it work. But what you get for the effort is oh so worth it! I want to share with you a few things I have learned in my marriage that has watered the seed of contentment and joy.
1. “Leave and Cleave”
In Matthew 19:5 it says “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh.” This one is hard, but I think really important. We go from living in our parents household to living in a household with someone who was raised in a different household! At first it may be easy to think your way is the right way. Because that was how you were raised! It makes so much more sense right? If we don’t ever leave our parents in heart, we can never wholly join to our spouse. We need to make our own lives with our spouse instead of living a life exactly like our parents. Now I am not saying by any means we shouldn’t use any of our parents teaching or ways. I am saying that we need our own life. We have to be willing to talk through things and base decisions on what you and your spouse think is best. There will be many things that bleed into your new life from the way your parents raised you and that is good. But we need to mesh the two, not always think one is better than the other. I heard someone say once “they changed since they married into that family.” It really made me sad because we should change! If neither of the spouses are willing to change and mesh together to create a new family, you will always have tension. There needs to be a healthy balance of give and take. Not always one or the other.
This is one that I really struggled with. I would always wonder, why should I forgive when I know he will hurt me again? It was somehow easier to hold onto the hurt because I thought it was a way to remind him not to do it again. I was wrong. Someone once told me that forgiving is wiping the slate clean. When God looks down on us he wants to see us for who we are. Not for all the mistakes and messes we create. When we ask for forgiveness he wipes our slate clean so he can see us for who we are. Its the same for us human to human. When Loren hurts me and asks for my forgiveness I can choose to wipe his slate clean and see him for the amazing person he is, or I can let that hurt cloud my view and see the negatives. We are only human, we will make mistakes again. I know that he does not set out to hurt me, so I need to extend grace to him when he does make a mistake. If we are constantly holding onto hurt we won’t see our spouse for how amazing they really are.
3. Put yourself in your spouses shoes.
When I did this I was able to see some things I was doing could really be hurtful. How would I feel if Loren talked to me like that. Or nagged me about this. I was able to stop myself more easily from saying or doing something that may have been hurtful when I put myself on the receiving end.
I think women are notorious for expecting their husbands to just know what they want! Or what they are hinting at. Don’t be hurt if you hint at something and he doesn’t get it. He probably isn’t ignoring you, he probably just has no clue what you are hinting at! I started to just tell him things instead of hinting at them. It works out much better. But communication goes so much further than that. Talk to each other about your dreams, about your goals, share with each other. Be excited to talk to each other!
5. Place yourself second
Try and think about your spouses feelings before your own. Do you always make the decisions or do you make them together? When we place ourself first, we tend to overlook what our spouse may want. When we place ourself second, we can talk through a situation and make a decision together.
6. Do acts of kindness for one another.
Does your spouse have a favorite dessert, or candy bar? Randomly make that dessert for him, or randomly stop by somewhere and bring home her favorite chocolate. Or maybe it is acts of service. Does something need fixed at your house? Surprise your wife and do it for her. Just do random sweet acts of kindness for each other.
7. Fix yourself not your spouse
Lets stop trying to fix what ever we think is wrong with our spouse and start focusing on ourselves. What is an area we can improve on? I don’t think any of us want to be nagged about what is wrong with us. Instead if each spouse stops trying to fix the other and focus on themselves, that is when change will start to happen.
8. Don’t stop dating
Take time for date nights alone with your spouse. Maybe its once a month. However often it is, make sure it happens. Life can get so crazy busy, don’t let it steal away your time together.
9. Say “I love you” often.
This is something I take for granted, Loren has never held back telling me he loves me. Sure we may know our spouse loves us, but we shouldn’t let that hold us back from telling each other. There is something great about hearing it verbally!
You probably already know I am a sucker for reading if you have been reading my blog very long. A few books on marriage I highly recommend are:
11. Stop looking around.
Don’t compare your marriage to someone else’s. Instead of wishing your marriage would be different, or like so and so, work on improving it. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Water your own!
Scripture to Ponder:
Ephesians 5:33- “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
Homework for the heart: