As spring comes rolling around, so does wedding season. It’s hard to believe, but Roman and I are getting ready to celebrate three years of marriage. Holy moly time has flown! But as I look at all these young people getting ready to start their new lives together, I can’t help but wonder if they really know what they’re getting themselves into. (And yes, I realize that I got married at 19 and I’m still only 22 and so I may not be the best qualified to make a statement like that. But after all, three years of marriage will grow somebody up in a hurrrryyy.) And as I wonder all of these things, I realize that there are a few things that I wish someone had sat me down and really talked to me about. Don’t get me wrong, we got a lot of great advice, but we have learned a thing or two along the way. So here are five things that I’ve learned in almost three years of marriage….perhaps it will help some of my friends who are getting ready to tie the knot. ;)
1) Marriage brings out the best in you, but it also brings out the worst.
I read somewhere the other day that marriage magnifies both the good and the bad in us. And the more I’ve thought about it, the more it makes sense. I’m not going to lie, marriage is awesome. Having someone love you for exactly who you are is great. Being able to look at your spouse and realize that he loves you despite your crazy morning hair and your (sometimes) awful cooking is such a blessing.
But in the spirit of being honest, marriage is not always awesome. When you’re dating, you are putting your best foot forward. You do your best to show unselfish love in every situation so that your significant other will like you forever. But once you get married and move in and get settled into your new life together, your human nature really starts to rear its ugly head. You have petty arguments over stupid things like how to fold a towel. And why do those arguments occur? Because you’re being selfish. Think about it. The only reason why you’re having an argument is because you believe your way of folding the towel is better than his way, and he believes his way is better than your way, and both of you are too prideful/selfish to call it a truce. Which leads me to point two….
2) If you let it, marriage will shape you into a better person.
As you go through the high’s and low’s of marriage, you have two choices. You can either continue to be selfish and demand your own way, eventually pushing your spouse further and further away until the marriage dies completely….OR, you can allow the hard times to shape you into a better person which allows your marriage to grow stronger. Back to the towel example: you can continue to demand your own towel-folding ways and be bitter when he doesn’t conform. Then your heart starts to notice other ways in which he “disobeys” your demands. Then you start nagging him over every little thing that you notice he does wrong. Then you complain to your girlfriends about how he never listens and how unhappy you are. Then along comes Mr. Nice Man at your office who always does everything you ask him to and holy-cow-he’s-sort-of-cute-too……see where I’m going with this? If we refuse to allow conflicts to shape our thoughts and if we refuse to see our own shortfalls, than something as stupid as a towel can snowball into something much larger.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that because Roman and I have an argument over a towel that we’re heading down the road to an affair. But I am saying that we need to recognize our own imperfections. We need to understand that we’re not always going to see eye-to-eye on things. And we need to apply this knowledge to our relationship. We need to learn when it’s important to argue over something and when it isn’t. We need to learn how to forgive and move on. As we learn all of these things, we will become better all-around people. We’ll be able to apply these life-lessons in our work places and in our every-day lives.
Throw a male and a female in the same house together and there is bound to be conflict because God made us so differently. We joke about how God is crazy for making men and women so different and ask why he couldn’t have made our spouse to be more like us, but we fail to realize why He did design us the way we are. God makes men and women so different so that when we are joined together in marriage, we learn how to shed our selfish nature and how to love with His unselfish love. And we become better Christians as we grow in this unselfish love.
3) Your spouse isn’t God.
We know that in the front of our minds, but sometimes our hearts forget. Having a spouse won’t fill that God-sized hole in our hearts, and if we rely on them to fill our every desire then we are still going to feel empty inside. Roman is my husband. It is his job to support me and lead me in every way: physically, mentally, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually. It is his role to be the leader of our household. But I can’t expect him to be perfect. I can’t expect him to never let me down. And although he is the leader of our household, his leader is God, which means that God is my leader as well. We cannot find complete fulfillment if we leave God out of the picture. On the flip side, I am Roman’s wife. I am to be there for him and support him. I am his helper and I am to show him my respect. But he can’t expect me to be perfect. He can’t expect me to keep his heart full and his mind calm…..only God can do that. Get the picture? Although our spouses are a big part of our lives, we have to remember that God is still more important. He’s still our rock and our fortress and our guide and He’s the glue that holds us together….and we still need Him more than air. If we can grasp that concept at the beginning of our marriages, then it will save us a lot of heartache and hurt feelings.
4) Don’t talk bad about your spouse. Ever.
To the wives: I don’t care what he did, your girlfriends don’t need to hear about it while you are having a girls’ night. (Note: I am not perfect in this area, so please don’t take it that way. This is just as much a reminder to me as it is to you.) There are times when you need to share with a select few…for example, if Roman had an affair then I would talk at great lengths with my Pastor’s wife and my best friend over how to move forward. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about how often I see women making fun of their husbands or talking about every little mistake he made…….sometimes while he’s standing right there! Ladies, our husbands deserve our respect. In fact, the Bible commands us to respect him at all times…whether he deserves it or not. So this means we need to constantly show him respect with our words and our actions. And let’s be honest, when our ears hear our mouths constantly speak bad about our husbands, we start to notice more of the bad and less of the good. But when our ears hear our mouths constantly speak good about our husbands, we notice more of the good and less of the bad.
To the husbands: Everything I just said applies to you as well. Don’t think that because the Bible tells the wife to respect the husband and not the husband to respect the wife that you are off the hook. Because in actuality, you are much more on the hook because you are commanded to love your wife as Christ loves the church. So you have a duty to always build up your wife and to show her love. And this includes what you say about her while you’re out with your friends. Build her up, don’t tear her down. Make her feel like a queen and she will treat you like a king.
5) Physical intimacy is much more important than what you think it is.
And all the husbands across America cheered. ;) No but really, women don’t understand the male’s intense need for intimacy. Several of the bloggers I follow put it like this though, and it really makes sense to me: Women need to feel loved before we make love, men need to make love before they feel loved. In other words, if we women don’t feel like our man loves us, then we won’t feel like making love. If he didn’t take out the trash or help you with the kids or put gas in your car or talk to you for two hours about your feelings then he’s not going to get any affection from you because he obviously isn’t showing us love. But in his eyes, when you are constantly rejecting him and treating him like he’s a dog for wanting you like he does, then why should he talk to you about your feelings for two hours or take out the trash or help you with the kids or put gas in your car? When we reject him, we reject who he is as our husband and that hurts him deeply. And eventually the constant rejection is going to cause him to withdraw emotionally from the relationship. I’m not going to get too deep into this point, but ladies just remember: God created physical intimacy for marriage alone. It is a gift from God and it is 100% necessary for a successful marriage. So please don’t reject this important aspect of your marriage just because “you don’t feel like it.” If you would like to learn more about this topic, I would greatly encourage you to check out some of the links to the right of this post. Sheila at “To Love Honor and Vacuum” has a lot of great (Christian) information on this subject and can give you a whole lot more advice/guidance than I ever could.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” ~Proverbs 27:17