I see so many young couples getting married today, so in love, so excited and so ready to start the rest of their lives together. The “D” word, seems literally impossible to them. I remember when my husband and I were in this stage, we used to be so perplexed about how a marriage could fail. With both of us coming from divorced parents, we were determined to be different.
It all came so fast, one minute we were so in love and so excited, and the next our marriage was sinking faster than we could figure out what brought it down. Before we knew it, we were faced with two choices. It seemed so easy to just let it fall, and so hard to push it back to the surface.
We could finally see how so many marriages fail.
The divorce rate is skyrocketing, its accepted as the cultural norm and sadly, it does not seem to be exempt from the church.
What follows is a list my husband and I compiled of ten things we failed miserably at in in our first few months of marriage. Hopefully it can help other young couples to better navigate those new beginnings!
1) I Thought I Would Be Better At This…
I was quite literally preparing myself for marriage since I was fifteen years old. I would run around and tell people, “I’m ready for marriage and I don’t even have a boyfriend!” It’s only now that I realize how silly that was! Clearly, I have always been a bit of an overachiever. I was so proud at the beginning of our marriage as if I could surpass the common marriage troubles simply because I was so afraid to fail.
Early on in marriage I realized that the game is rigged. It was a constant game of his attempts vs. my shut down and my attempts vs. his shut down spiraling in a vicious circle. My exact thoughts as weeks dragged on were, “I can’t win!” I was right.
God designed it so we can’t win on our own! He designed it for three, not two. Therefore, God designed marriage so we would desperately need Him in order to succeed. Without Him, we fail, simple as that.
I thought I would be better at this… but I know that God can make me better at this.
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22
2) I Realized Just How Much Our Fights Reflected Our Relationships With God
Have you ever noticed how you treat people when you’re on a spiritual high? Most likely you show a great deal of patience, joy, and compassion. Those attributes bring God glory when you use them as opposed to negatively expressing irritation and anger.
When my husband and I fought, we saw the opportunity for our own victory rather than to bring God that glory. Every time a conflict presents itself we have the opportunity to bring God glory. If we don’t use this opportunity, we’re being disobedient.
To bring God glory, we must bear with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:12) Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. (James 1:19) Every argument we have in our marriage can be traced back to our relationships with God because if we’re on the right track we will seek an opportunity to bring God glory in our arguments rather than seek a temporary win. (You and Me Forever, Francis and Lisa Chan)
Sure, we can win an argument here and there and feel pretty good about ourselves but what good is temporary happiness when an eternal joy is at stake?
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
3) Bathroom Doors Are There For A Reason
This title could be metaphorical or quite literal, take your pick. Bottom line is that you need a healthy amount of space.
My husband and I are so similar that naturally we do everything together, we won’t start a new series without the other because we enjoy the same shows. We don’t often go out without each other because we have the same friend group. But, even though we are quite happy doing everything together, we still noticed that something was missing.
We all know the saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” To me, this means absence (used wisely) helps you to secure your identity in God rather than in another person. Which, in turn makes you appreciate that person all the more.
In all honesty, who could you say is your best friend, God, or your spouse?
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:2-4
4) Irritation Is Like A Rotten Apple Planted By Satan
Imagine a full basket of apples, gorgeous, juicy, ripe and without blemish. How delicious! Now, imagine one rotten apple added to that batch, what would happen? It would sour the whole batch.
Your day is like a basket of those wonderful apples, if you allow the rotten apple of irritation to worm its way into your basket, it will sour your entire batch of apples. You really can have a beautiful batch of apples every single day….if you choose to.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
5) If Your Wife Is Wearing The Pants, You’re Doing It Wrong
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the body, of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)
This passage is painfully clear how we are to assert ourselves in marriage. So how do we do this in a culture that is navigating away from this mindset?
“These days more than ever we are living in a society where feminism and reversed leadership roles are bypassing the role that God has designed for men. Men are not stepping up to take the authority God has called them to and women are wrongfully shifting to proudly demand those roles. Today, I charge men with being “whipped” by “the better half.”
What are you going to do about it?
I’m not saying that your marriage should be a dictatorship, but the role of a man as a LEADER in marriages is of utmost importance. We as men are called by God to lead our families spiritually, financially, and emotionally. We are to lead by example, in servitude and in love. I believe that most of the problems we face in society, drug addiction, prostitution, domestic violence, to name a few, could be solved if we as men would stand up and fulfill the role that God has called us to.
Simply the fact of how commonly phrases like “I have daddy issues,” “let me check with my better half,” and “you’re whipped bro,” are used points to how serious this issue has become. Its honestly not funny anymore to use these phrases, its appalling and its heartbreaking. Our role as a man dictated by God should not be taken lightly.
With that being said, How do we accomplish this?
Here’s a couple tips:
- Spend time in the word individually.
- Outserve your wife.
- Spend time on what is important. (contrary to popular belief if you miss one football game to have a romantic dinner with your wife, it will not kill you!)
- Dont keep score, there should not be a tally of wrong doings or nights out with friends.
- Humble yourself and accept the criticism that she gives you, if you look past what you perceive as whining, you will see that she usually has a good point.”
6) Sex Is Spiritual
Just like every other aspect of your marriage, as silly as it may sound, God is not exempt from the bedroom. In fact, He’s very much a part of it. If your relationship with God is not where it should be, you’ll notice in your sex life. Why? Because sex is spiritual. God did not create sex with warnings to seek purity, to be monogamous, to wait until marriage if it didn’t serve a purpose. He’s protecting us. All these warnings do not stop once we get married. In fact, they increase.
Sex issues can be traced back to God issues as well.
If God is not in your sex life, you’re doing more harm than good.
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4
7) You’ll Burn Out Faster In Boredom Than In Servitude
At the beginning of marriage, there’s no kids to run around after, no dance or baseball lessons to get to, no parent-teacher interviews. There’s generally a significant amount of free time to fill. It seems though, the more you try to relax, watch television, and well, be lazy… the less rest you actually get.
I can’t count the many nights I came home from work and planted myself on the couch until I went off to bed because “I needed rest.” Though, for every time I have done that, I have not received the rest I so desired. My husband and I would get so frustrated with each other because we were just so exhausted… ALL THE TIME! Quite frankly, we shouldn’t have been, but rest is not just physical rest.
We discovered the more we came home and served each other by cooking, cleaning, and preparing small spontaneous acts for each other, the more energized and rested we felt.
We realized, rest does not come from our doing but by God’s doing.
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
8) Comparing Kills
This one could very possibly be one of the biggest marriage killers in our culture today. Social media sites like facebook, twitter, instagram, snap chat, etc., are killing relationships. They show the accomplishments, the beautiful pictures, the romantic husbands, the best foot forward, and when we scroll through this regularly, our lives seem significantly less relevant. We turn to our husbands and boldly say, “Why don’t you do things like that?” So they try and they try and they try a little harder to make us happy, but compared to those other couples on facebook… its not good enough. Those sites simply scratch at the surface to what that life is really like. We cannot compare our relationship to a relationship we have never lived beyond the wonderful front we see on social media.
Do you forget that your spouse is a gift that God handpicked out of the billions of people on this earth to be yours? Are you saying that the gift that God has chosen for you isn’t good enough?
If you turn off all your social media the minute you step into your house and appreciate the gift that God has given you, over time you just might see the change you’ve desperately been seeking.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
9) If You Can’t Enjoy Life For What It Is Right Now, You Never Will
“Remember when we first started dating and you used to… If only we could go back.”
“Oh life will be so much better when we can finally get…”
Do you ever find yourself saying similar phrases to your spouse? Do you find that often you are either living in the past, or living in the future? Do you find that you are most happy when you reminisce, you think about what the future holds, or are you happy being right where you are now?
There will always be issues with the present. There will always be past mistakes we should’ve done differently and things we can change to better ourselves for the future. If we can’t learn to be happy right where we are, we will never be happy.
You can never go back to the past and do things differently, you can’t relive the good times, and if you have a goal to reach before you can be happy, you will continue to make goals and never be happy. Is this what you want?
I’m honestly afraid to admit how often I do not live in the present, how often I am not happy where I am right now. I write this more for myself than anyone because I have to remind myself on a daily basis to live for today.
Tomorrows challenges will be just as hard as the challenges today because God doesn’t promise us prosperity in this lifetime. Learning to have joy in every moment is a skill we can all do better at.
“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows them very well.” Psalm 139:14
10) You Need To Talk About It
One thing I’ve noticed in the marriages around me is that no one really talks about what issues are going on in their marriage… until its too late.
When you are struggling in your faith, God no doubt prompts you to talk about it to other christians. Why? Because talking helps us to grow and to heal. Why should it be any different in our marriage? Why do we portray such a “perfect” example of marriage to the world and continue to struggle behind closed doors? Why is the only time that our marital issues are discussed is after the fact when we have finally found a way to work through them? How can we be kept accountable to seeking purity in our marriage if we do not open up about the true and honest issues we are going through?
You need to talk about it, honestly and without exaggeration…to other people.
Pierre and I are about to go for our 6 month mark marriage meeting with our pastor, then again in one year, two years, and three years. This isn’t something to be ashamed of, its something to be proud of. Every couple goes through issues in their marriage and simply the fact that we don’t know about it shows how much our culture has a problem with sharing these issues, passing on knowledge to navigate these issues, and preventing the cause of so many divorces today.
Who you talk to does not matter as long as you do, in a healthy and constructive manner.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Be the generation to redefine what it means to be married.
Marriage was created to be lived out as an example of Christ and the Church. We don’t have the luxury of making it about serving ourselves.
Marriage is a tool for discipleship, use it well.