A road map for newly marrieds…Or how to keep your marriage together in a world that’s splitting apart

Young marrieds

The best way to begin a marriage is to start with the end in sight.

What are your dreams, your hopes and even your fears? Envision the outcomes you want for your marriage and future family from the moment you say, “I do.”

Having a firm idea of where you want to end up and how you will get there can help you step off on solid footing in the most daring adventure in life.

COUPLES BIBLE - Copy

Couples who are wise will build their marriage on the principles of the living word of God. After all, marriage was His idea.

God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” So God formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn’t find a suitable companion.

God put the Man into a deep sleep. As he slept he removed one of his ribs and replaced it with flesh. God then used the rib that he had taken from the Man to make Woman and presented her to the Man.

    The Man said,
“Finally! Bone of my bone,
    flesh of my flesh!
Name her Woman
    for she was made from Man.”
    Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh.
    The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.
Genesis 2:18-25The Message

So think deep and long about what you each value, discussing what life means and understanding why we all are here. And don’t forget to make our Father above a founding member of your union.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:10-12

As life partners who are equal in essence, but different in function — both husband and wife bearing the image of God — choose to lay down selfishness, immaturity, anger and always having to be right, for the better gifts of unity, wisdom, peace, joy and love.

This is especially important for young marriages from families of origin that have experienced divorce, addictions, abuse or some other type of trauma. You may have never learned what a healthy marriage looks like.

And trauma leaves us wounded.

When we are wounded — like an animal bleeding in the woods — we can be dangerous to each other. In licking our wounds from yesterday, we go for our mate’s juggler today, shredding his or her heart in the process.

And we will tear down our marriage with our own hands.

As a 20-something bride from a less than functional family, I fussed over wedding details, stuffed my suitcases for the honeymoon, and angrily dragged a lot of heavy baggage into my first marriage.

Sparks flew until my marriage burned to a crisp and all I had left was a broken heart, children who were hurting, mounting bills and a pile of ashes.

So, dearest couple, don’t do it.

Don’t make yourself number one in marriage. Let God be the most important person and serve your spouse before yourself.

Cherish each other and all the precious moments of marriage. Be grateful and compliment each other ten times more than complaining. Go out of your way to do something nice just because. And don’t sweat the small stuff.

Seek to protect and grow your marriage daily by learning how to love each other well. Read a daily dose of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-13. We prefer the J.B. Phillips translation for this passage.

This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.

Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.

Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen…

When I was a little child I talked and felt and thought like a little child. Now that I am a man my childish speech and feeling and thought have no further significance for me…

In this life we have three great lasting qualities—faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.

Don’t ever let love fail.

Be ready always to say “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you.”

Quit being contentious, choosing to fight or demanding your own way. Fights begin because we don’t get what we want. We fight because we prefer “me” over “we.”

Sometime, we fight, get angry, or become bossy and controlling because we are afraid and hurting inside. We erroneously believe we must be strong and hard with protective walls in place, controlling everything all the time, because we fear getting hurt like we’ve been hurt before.

Only this time isn’t like before.

This time is for real and for keeps and unless you are wise, you may lose it all. So when you don’t know what to do in your marriage, or in life, ask God. Simply stop and pray.

If needed seek help from a professional counselor, pastor or an older, wiser married couple. And get your heart healed and work on any weak points in your marriage before the babies start coming.

If you and your spouse have major areas of difference start addressing them now. Gently. And trusting that your common goal is a better, stronger marriage with the building up of each other in love.

And though your past can contribute to the destruction of all you cherish in marriage, please do not use your past hurts as an excuse to behave badly in any relationship. You always have the choice to change. So choose wisely.

But you can’t do this alone. You need God.

Open your heart to the One who loves you so much that He died for you.

Nothing you have done, nothing that has ever been done to you, will ever make Him love you less. He takes you just as you are because you are His. He will never let you go not even when you run away from Him out of shame or fear or pride.

When both spouses put their faith, hope and trust in God through Jesus Christ miracles can happen. Marriages grow strong and healthy, broken marriages are repaired and a solid foundation is created for a future family.

Couple sleeping and hugging on the bed in bedroom

But when you fight, fight fair.

Fight the issues, not each other. At the end of the day you’ll sleep in the same bed so remember you are best friends with your spouse and never go to bed angry with each other.

Sometimes when me and my Michael are having a disagreement, one or the other of us extends a hand and asks, “Should we pray?” Holding each others’ hand — a simple gesture of physical touch and connectedness — can remind us that we are in this together. We are not each others’ enemy.

But the enemy of all of our souls is a  formidable foe who diligently works to harden hearts, lead us astray and destroy us, our marriages, and all we hold dear.

For there is no higher example on earth of the relationship between Christ and His beloved believers than a God honoring marriage where husband and wife consistently lay down their lives and their selfishness, to serve one another in love.

And when we don’t hold God’s design of marriage in high esteem, when we make little idols out of ourselves, we can wind up with a no-one-wins-but-the-lawyers divorce.

The scars of that heartbreak will be with you for a lifetime for when two whom God has joined together split apart, it is messy and painful. And even 20 years down the road something simple may trigger a flash back to the loss and your heart in that moment breaks again.

You will cry for what you have lost, realizing that your poor choices created irrevocable consequences and what is gone is gone.

Then you will remind yourself you have been forgiven for your part in the divorce, but the pain of the split and all its ugly fallout will wrack your body and wreck your soul and the only thing that will save you is His grace.

Amazing grace.

God tells us in Malachi 2:16 that He hates divorce. I think He hates it because of all the heartbreak it causes.

Marriage is a sacred covenant bond created by Him for companionship between one man and one woman. It is a laboratory for learning to love and a crucible for healing. It is the only place to enjoy God’s luscious gift of lovemaking and the best place for raising children.

WEDDING RINGS

So when you say I Do, mean it.

And then work hard every day to learn how to be a good wife or a good husband. Extend grace to each other, ascribing the best intentions to the others’ heart when they do something you do not like. And love and pray for each other all the time.

Set your heart and mind on God and know that in marriage your only option is success…

~sheila

{If you are in an abusive marriage, or where there is unrepentant adultery or addiction, seek professional intervention immediately.}

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Thank you, Kendra, for featuring this post on Living Proverbs 31.

Linking with A Proverbs 31 Wife.

Linking with Jolene.

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14 thoughts on “A road map for newly marrieds…Or how to keep your marriage together in a world that’s splitting apart

  1. Valuable post – you cover so many areas of importance here. I’m intrigued by the version of the 1Corinthians “love” passage – I’ve never read this version. (now I’ve got some research to do!)

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you Robert and Lori. FYI — You can google Biblegateway dot com and search the passage under the JB Phillips translation. My husband introduced me to this version of the New Testament and I really like it for adding depth of meaning and clarity. Thanks.

  2. Excellent post- much needed in our society.

    This part spoke the loudest to me as it’s been something I’ve had to learn and relearn over the years (thank God He gave me a patient husband)- “Don’t make yourself number one in marriage.”

    It’s not all about me and what makes me happy- it’s about us both. It’s about God, It’s about LOVE!

  3. Well written post!! It definitely spoke volumes. I do wish more people would read this before they get married. Or even if their marriage is struggling.

  4. So much wisdom here, Sheila. I especially love your admonition, “Don’t make yourself number one in marriage. Let God be the most important person and serve your spouse before yourself.” That’s so powerful and true. I was like you in the early days of my marriage as well–carrying that bitter baggage in and letting it devour my heart and marriage. I also loved how you and your husband pray when the sparks begin to fly. Such a good idea! Great thoughts here, as always, my friend!

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Beth. And by the grace of God we keep getting better at loving one another especially when we disagree. But it is always a choice to lay down our “rights” and choose respect and loving kindness…

  5. Very well put! It is so important to approach marraige with the attitude of thinking of the other person, not just thinking of myself. I lived selfishly for the first 7 years of my marriage…and it wasn’t pretty. But when God got ahold of me and showed me how very selfish I was, things began to change…and it started with me!

    Thanks for the wisdom.

    Lisa
    http://www.thecourageousjourney.com

    • You are welcome, Lisa. I am so thankful that at the seven year mark you finally learned. As for me, well, it took divorce and a series of awfully dark chapters in my life to get through to a stubborn, selfish, and very wounded heart. But God is good and always faithful, yet it is so much better to learn before or within your existing marriage! Blessings to you…