Ever since I have gotten married, I have felt God calling me to openly share things about my marriage and to give advice to couples to not only help them on their journey, but to encourage them to know their relationship is not the only one that takes work, forgiveness, and tons of grace.
Whenever I get to have a sit down with someone, many times they end up asking me how my husband and I have made it as far as we have ( we have been together 13 years, although only married for over 1.5). Some of these people know that before we were married, my husband and I did not always have the healthiest of relationships... by golly, it was actually extremely unhealthy at times looking back. So, I don't blame people for being curious about how we went from "you two shouldn't be together" to happily married.
The first part is a bit harder to explain but I can say that we met extremely young and growing together, especially in major pivotal moments of life, was not easy. Second, I truly give all praise to Jesus because I do think it's by his grace and divine plan that we are here where we are today.
One thing I would recommend to people before marriage is to ask themselves a series of questions. Most people will ask themselves "Can I see myself with him/her the rest of my life? Do I want to deal with all of his/her flaws the rest of my life? If the worst were to happen, am I prepared to be with him/her regardless?"
All good questions. Questions you should definitely ask yourself. From what I have learned, I encourage couples to also ask questions that come from a slightly different perspective: "Am I prepared to serve this person the rest of our lives? Am I prepared to die to myself and my ideals for this marriage's growth and happiness? Even on the days that I want to punch my spouse, will I still be able to love them? Am I prepared to put this person and the marriage above myself?"
One thing I learned fast and furious, and that I think many couples don't think about when getting married, is that marriage is not about you, it is not fair, and it is a sacrificial covenant- not a feel good, perfect, mushy gushy union all the time. Marriage is work, it's refining, and it tests you more than any relationship in your life (I think) because you are CHOOSING to be with that person through thick and thin. Unconditional love is a choice everyday- and each of us will stumble many of those days.
I felt like I failed at marriage and what felt like failing life just a couple days ago, but today, my husband and I are right back where we were going on the path of our love-filled forever. Why? Well I believe there are a few things we learned early on in our marriage (and even before) that changed the course of our relationship and our perspective on the matter.
Pray for your spouse- I know in the heat of arguments, disagreements and hopelessness, it's hard to sometimes "feel" like getting on our knees to pray. And many of you may be like me and sometimes lack faith in believing that prayer is the most impactful/powerful thing I can do for my marriage. When my husband and I first got married, it felt like we couldn't agree on anything. It was hard to even get through a day without some awkwardness or argument. We made the choice to pray together and separately for our marriage. I prayed for him and for my heart in my marriage, and then we also prayed together- even during fights when we didn't see eye to eye. We believe making the, what may seem small, difference changed the course of our relationship and now it is a common thing for us to do as we experience new transitions in our life together.
Grace Upon Grace- The best way I can describe why marriage can be difficult is because you are merging two sets of wills, ideals, and dreams in to one being- the one flesh of marriage. There often may seem to be a continuous tug of war to get the person to do what you think is right and vise versa. On top of that, you are both completely different sexes and people- so there is just complexity on complexity! I learned quickly that not accepting my husband for who he is hinders love to grow and the opportunity for me to be a positive influence on him- and him on me. So, have grace. Just as we are called to have grace towards all people, it is especially important to have grace with your spouse... it is, after all, an example of God's relationship with His church! When we aren't giving grace to one another, I will be the first to say that communication stops, emotions will fester and blow ups happen. That's exactly what happened to us a couple days ago!
Meditate on the goodness- In Philippians 4:8-9, Paul encourages us saying this: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you”. When we think about the good things that are around us, we do not give time or energy for the negative and unnecessary distractions. The same goes for marriage. I found when I meditate on the good things about my husband and my marriage, love rises within me and gives way to compassion, grace and forgiveness. AND it helps me to see all that God has and is doing in my marriage- and that his faithfulness abounds. It's honestly one of my favorite things to do! I like to meditate in the car, or while sitting on the patio with a cup of coffee. So then, by the time W wakes up, I am ready to greet him with a big huge KISS! :)
Relationships are all on a journey- and it can get messy, but I realize that "mess" is what makes it beautiful. To have a companion forever is an amazing gift. To see God's faithfulness through thick and thin is so fulfilling and it keeps hope alive. I pray that this helped you today as you are on your journey. I am thankful we are not on this journey alone- we have each other!
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