Marriage. What comes to mind when you hear this word? For me, I think of one of the greatest joys, but also one of the greatest challenges. If we look to God’s design for marriage, we will experience it joyfully, even through the challenges.
My wife Emily and I have been married a year and 4 months, so we are obviously no experts, but in that short time, we have learned A LOT. We have been learning about the purpose of marriage and the gift that it truly is. Every day takes intentionality, hard work and sacrifice, as we continue to grow together. When I reflect back on the lessons we have learned in our marriage so far, I think most of them can be summarized into the four thoughts below. If you are single, dating, engaged or married, I hope these simple lessons encourage and challenge you moving forward.
1) Put God first.
My wife does not fulfill me and I do not fulfill her. If we put our hope, faith and confidence in each other, we will be let down. I can’t look to my spouse to fulfill every single one of my needs. That is not only unrealistic, but also impossible. No one has the ability to fill the God-sized hole in our hearts, except for Jesus. We all need to seek God first in our marriages, then love and serve our spouses as an overflow of our love for God. When I don’t go to God first, I don’t give my wife my best.
2) Communicate, communicate, communicate.
This may sound super simple, but it’s actually one of the most important elements of a Godly marriage. Communication is something we constantly do in our jobs, email, social media, with our friends and family, etc. But what about our spouse? I’ve learned very quickly that my wife and I can’t read each other’s minds. We can’t guess what each other is thinking. Whether it’s the small or big things, we must communicate and talk to one another regularly and respectfully. Remember, your tone and attitude are just as important, if not more important than the words being communicated.
3) Remember, you’re both on the same team.
Sometimes when you get into a disagreement with your spouse, it’s easy to give into the lie that you are in a battle against each other. You won’t stop until you win, because who wants to be the loser? Every single one of us have an element of pride in our hearts and we hate to be wrong. It may be uncomfortable and embarrassing if our spouse calls us out on something, but if we know that we have each other’s best interest in mind, it makes it much more bearable to face our own imperfections. These tough conversations should lead to a healthy resolution and conclusion that challenges both ourselves and our spouse to grow closer to God. Pride will not work in a marriage. It takes humility and love from from both partners to facilitate the growth God intends in marriage.
4) Your needs are met when your spouse’s needs are met.
Before getting married, I was often times about me, myself and I. When I was getting what I wanted, then I was satisfied. When my needs were met, I felt good. I can no longer think that way, and honestly, we should never think that way because Christians are to live sacrificially. While on this earth, Jesus never did what was simply best for Himself, he always had the Kingdom of God and others in mind. When I only strive after what I want in marriage, my wife receives nothing. In contrast, when I serve and pursue my wife, ensuring her needs are met, I find myself filled with joy because I see her satisfied. In turn, my wife is far more likely to reciprocate these acts of service when I have first served her.
I love this quote from Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love Languages:
“…when we receive affirming words, we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate and do something our spouse desires.”
Put God first. Communicate. Work as a team. Meet each other’s needs.
And remember, we are all a work in progress!
“What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” -Mark 10:9