Making your marriage a priority is NOT an option
This past March was my parents’ 42nd wedding anniversary. Believe it or not, they got married while still in high school at the ages of 17 and [barely] 18. These days it’s rare for a marriage to last so long, especially when the bride and groom are teenagers. My brothers and I have been very fortunate to have an amazing example set for us and our own relationships, and I’d like to share some of the wisdom I’ve picked up from them. I don’t want to speak for my parents, but I think they’ll agree with these tips.
Before I get into the ten main things I’ve learned, let me state this: I am not perfect, and like many things my parents have taught me I have not always followed their advice. With age comes wisdom, and after almost 11 years of marriage I think my husband and I have certainly come a long way and grown together so that we make fewer mistakes.
Be best friends with your spouse. “Best friends” are NOT “forever.” It’s very easy to think your best friend right now will always be your best friend, and that could be true, but it’s unlikely. I have only met a couple of people who’ve had the same “best friend” for years and years. Unfortunately our personalities and priorities change/develop over time, and if our “friend” isn’t going through the same changes beside us, it becomes very difficult to keep that relationship. Your spouse IS (or at least should be) there beside you.
Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Be a team in marriage. There is no hierarchy in a marriage. It doesn’t matter who works, who stays home with the kids, who gets paid more, or who has the more “prestigious” title at work. You’re in a partnership where everything is divided equally. It should never be “my money” or “his money.” When it comes to managing a household, it should never be, “that’s his job,” or “that’s her job.” There’s no reason why you both cannot clean, do laundry, cook, etc. Granted, one person in the relationship might be the better cook. If that’s the case, let the more talented chef make dinner, then you can clean up after. That’s the deal we have in our house . . . I cook, my husband cleans up afterwards. And if I need help getting a meal prepared on time? He’s in the kitchen helping, whether it’s stirring something in a pot, chopping vegetables, or running dough through a pasta machine.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Be a team in parenting. When you become parents, remain a team. Our daughter always tries to get one of us to say “yes” after the other parent already said “no.” We always tell her: “if Mom says ‘no,’ Dad says ‘no.’ If Mom says ‘yes,’ Dad says ‘yes.’” Back each other up, remain a team. If you feel your spouse needs a different point of view on a situation, discuss it privately away from the kids. Never disrespect each other in front of your children.
Proverbs 1:8-9 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.
Make your spouse and children your #1 priority. This goes hand-in-hand with #1. I don’t see any problem with having a “girls’ night out,” or “guys’ night out” occasionally. I really enjoy those nights out and as parents we sometimes need that break, but if your schedule is anything like mine (which it probably is if you have kids), you don’t get a lot of free time. If you’re not wanting to spend your free time with your spouse/family, take a step back and ask yourself why.
1 Peter 5:3 Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
Your spouse IS your new family. There is a real problem if you cannot back up your spouse to your parents/siblings. This goes with #2 (being a team in marriage). Make sure you’re on the same page, and back each other up.
Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Honor your spouse. We had a speaker at my MOPS group this year talk about this. You MUST honor your spouse with your words, both when he/she is not around and when he/she IS around. It’s very easy to get sucked into a spouse-bashing session when you’re with your friends who start in. Sometimes you do it to vent, sometimes you do it to be funny, but either way you’re not honoring your husband/wife. This applies to all relationships, really. You should always honor your family members (parents, children, siblings, in-laws, etc.) and friends with your words.
1 Peter 3:1-3 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
Make sure you share the same beliefs and dreams before things get serious. This might offend some people, but I don’t see how any relationship can truly be successful if you have very different views on the big things: religion, politics, values, family, etc. If you don’t have the same beliefs, it’s very hard to respect each other. (Example: I had a friend who was raised Christian, but her spouse was an atheist. He had no respect for her and thought she was stupid for having faith, and she had no respect for him because of his lack of it.) My husband and I agree on things 99% of the time. The other 1% we may not agree, but we respect each other’s views.
1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
Marriage is not a try-it-out-and-see-how-it-goes deal. If you get married with this thought in mind, your relationship is already over. Marriage takes work and commitment; you don’t go into it thinking, “well I guess if it doesn’t work out we’ll just get a divorce.” This means you’re on the lookout for something/someone better, and you think marriage is a joke.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Do not try to change each other. Marry someone because you love every part of him/her, even the flaws. Our flaws make us the imperfect human beings God created us to be, so that we can experience humility and empathy. Don’t just “accept” those flaws in your spouse, LOVE them!
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Do not take each other for granted. It’s very easy to become comfortable and lazy in a marriage after several years. Romance and love each other, respect their needs. (My husband and I both recently read “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, and it’s a book I highly recommend! LEARN what makes your spouse feel loved.)
Proverbs 31:10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
Laura Gohl has a loving and supportive husband, Bryon, and two children: Evelyn and Oliver. She can be viewed as a “Jack of all trades,” as she’s not afraid to learn and try new things. Prior to having children she managed a help desk, was the operations manager for a freight company, and was even a personal trainer. After having her first child in 2007 she made the decision to stay home and shortly after started a vacation rental business that has continued to blossom. In February 2015 she felt called to blog as well, and this was the start of “Supermom Wannabe” (www.supermamawannabe.com), where she hopes to bring a variety of anecdotes, crafts, ideas, and inspiration to others. Laura loves singing, all things Disney, watching movies, decorating cakes, travel, and most importantly: spending time with her family. She and her family have attended Holy Cross Lutheran Church since 2005.