You see, I married young. Not because I was forced to because of a pregnancy or because I was trying to run a away from anything, but for something else that is unheard of nowadays. Love, that is pure, sweet and God-breathed. You see both me and my husband had a not-so-perfect background with other relationships and had lost our peace and innocence in who we were. Separately, God pursued each of us to a place of righteousness in Him. What does that mean? He took us back to place of right standing with God. He forgave our promiscuity, He wiped away our insecurities and He took each of us on a journey of loving Him and ourselves before we could love anyone else.
When we finally did concede to a relationship after seeking God, we allowed him to write our love story and He hasn't stopped since. A lot of people ask me, why so young? Why didn't you wait a while and live a little? How did you know He was the one? Well, I don't have all the answers but I did really and truly knew the one who did. In my spirit I felt without a moment's hesitation that my husband was the man God wanted me to spend life with. I was filled with a love for him that not even I could explain. I knew that as years went by, I would find out why. Perhaps, God wanted to use us as an example of what He could do if we would just let Him in to this area of our lives. Now we aren't perfect but with all the odds stacked against at being so young and parents that were divorced, it has been a testimony to our friends and family over the last ten years of how perseverance and faith in our marriage and in God, can truly move mountains. It has moved mountains that we maybe never knew were there and some we had to cross over together. So I want to leave you with little bits of advice I learned and some the hard way. One for every year we've been together.
10. Agree to Disagree
There will be issues that, frankly, you will never see eye to eye on. Don't let that disagreement fester roots of bitterness or anger. If neither of you are able to see in the other's persons shoes, ask God to help you see their point of view through his perspective. Pray about it.
9. Pick Your Battles
Do not, I repeat, do not argue about anything that you think might stir a pot that doesn't need to be stirred. I can't really give an example, because for everyone this is different, but you know what I am talking about. If you cannot communicate well enough between each other to keep the conversation from being heated, pray about it and let God work on that with your spouse. This involves holding your tongue which for some people, me included, takes a lot of effort.
For a lot of couples I know that are well into 15 or even 20 years of marriage or more, I am shocked at how many do not communicate to one another. An excellent book that me and my husband are reading for the second time right now is "The Five Love Languages". In it describes that people have the ability to best communicate with someone if they are speaking to them in their correct love language. It is a must read for all couples. Bottom line here is, when there is a need, concern or issue to be addressed, stop beating around the bush. Just say it! Talk about it! Bring it up in conversation! Don't vent and gossip to your friends about something in your marriage when you haven't bothered to address the source of your frustration in the first place. The best communication that can take place here, especially if a spouse is unresponsive, is with the Lord. you can vent and cry and plead all you want. He loves it when you come to him with raw emotion and casts your cares on Him. Watch and see if this does not open a door of communication between you and your spouse.
7. Be patient!!
We try so hard to change our spouses!! Their weight, hairdo, friends, hobbies, etc... I am living testimony that this is one you might as well stop, give it up to God and relax in the meantime. After all, your husband thinks your the one with the problem always trying to change him all the time and you think he should be more intuitive to your needs and expectations of him. Well, he's not. Unless you state firmly in your communication (See #8) what's expected, then give it to God. Only He will truly be able to bring change from the inside out, and in the meantime we are free to enjoy everyday knowing God is taking care of whatever needs to be taken care of. Don't stress!
6. Let Your Children See You Love their Mommy/ Daddy
This is simple: Your spouse came before the children and will be there after the children. Do not replace that role with your child!
5. Make One on One Time
In other words: Date night!! This is a vital necessity for all married couples, especially with children. It is important to get away with your spouse to reconnect and rekindle romance. When you are a family it is easy to fall into roommate mode rather than husband and wife mode. Whatever you need to do schedule it, plan it, make it a priority for the health of your marriage and your sanity!
4. Give More than You Get
There are different seasons in life just as there are different seasons in marriage. Homeownership, illness, babies, jobs, moving and family can all take its toll on marriages. However let's remember what the bible says about love: "Greater love has no one than this: than to lay down his life for his friends" John 15:13. It will speak volumes to your husband/wife, friends and family when you put the other first. Don't keep score! Marriage is not 50/50, it is 100/100 and even at times when it feels like its 100/ 20, do not get discouraged! Bring your requests to the Lord and the bible says peace that no one can understand will guard your heart and mind from negative thinking and feeling like all is lost.
3. Grow Together, Not ApartWhen times are rough, the absolute worst thing you can do is turn on each other. "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ..In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold...Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" Ephesians 4:25-29. Notice how it says in the middle their, "...do not give the devil a foothold"? Do not allow an opening where Satan can come in and easily destroy what you and your spouse have been trying to build up. Be on alert and cling to each other, lean on each other. Whatever your going through, this too WILL pass!
2. Divorce is Not an Option
This is a statement I made to my husband who was only my fiancee at the time. We got engaged the same month my parents seperated. It was difficult imagining a happily ever after when I experienced the bitterness of a marriage unraveling before my eyes. But when I was assured by the Holy Spirit that I needed to look at my future with God's eyes and not the eyes of pain, my whole perspective changed. We talked and were both clear that what we were to enter was a covenant we were making. There were going to be no easy outs. We also made a rule, that we were not even to joke about divorce in our home. "The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love eat will eats its fruit" Proverbs 18:21.
1. A Family that Prays Together, Stays Together
As cliche as it may sound, it is true. If you look at almost every single piece of previous advice, prayer is an underlining theme. Why? Because prayer is our communication vehicle to God. I can't have had a successful and happy marriage without it. God is the foundation, the rock we built our house on. I intend to keep it there. That way when the waters rise and the winds blow, we will still be standing.
My prayer for you today is that you will experience a joy-filled, peaceful, blessed marriage! If you are not there yet, I tell my kids, "Tomorrow is a brand new day with no mistakes in it...yet". Wake up with a sense of determination to give your marriage to the Lord and take one day at a time to see His restoration and healing come into you and your spouses relationship. Be blessed!