Today I'm linking up with Marriage Monday at Chrysalis. This is my first time and I'm lucky because the topic is open so I get to write on whatever I want.
I wondered what would I say on marriage if I had an open forum. If I had to talk about marriage to a young couple what would I tell them?
First of all, I've been married for 21 years and I want to say, right from the start, that these are all things I learned from my own experience.. some not so long ago too! I want to emphasize that you never, ever stop learning and growing in your marriage.. no matter how long you've been married.. so I'm still in the classroom. So, from one student to another.. here's some of my little thoughts and secrets on marriage:
When I was getting married, I thought that this was the love of my life.. there could never be any love greater. I bet every young girl feels the same.. she'll never love anyone more.
Wrong.... you may not believe it but the love you feel now is not going to compare to the love you will feel 20 or 30 years from now. That love is going to grow, mature and be honed by life's trials and all that you share and it will become more perfect, pure and deep as the years go by.
When I was getting married, I thought that I knew my beloved like I knew myself, and I would be spending the rest of my life with him, the way he was.
Sorry to burst your bubble.. but you don't really know him and he doesn't know you. It will take a lifetime of learning and growing, facing trials together and really LIVING with each other. Even after that you will always find something new to discover in each other, because nobody stays the same forever. We all change and grow as we go through life, our situations change, our lifestyle may change. We have to learn to adapt to flow with the tidal changes of life and there will be many a metamorphasis in your relationship - hopefully positive ones!
When I was getting married I thought 'We'll never get like those older couples... we're not going to let the passion die on us. We'll keep things alive and exciting'. We all think the honeymoon will never be over.
The intense emotions don't last. Life tries to steal your joy and the practical side of marital life, raising children etc. makes it virtually impossible to keep those fires burning. Trials come and go, we have highs and lows, joy and pain, success and failure.Its hard enough to keep a balance on things, sometimes the last thing on your mind is romance. All spontaneity gets thrown out the window as you deal with what life is throwing at you.
The good news is that you CAN work at keeping passion and romance alive. With a little effort you can make sure to build a defense against settling into a comfortable place where you take each other for granted. Its not the same as it was in the beginning.. but in some ways its better. The awkwardness is gone.. you are more comfortable with each other. You have history and memories and a deeper, purer love.
Do newly weds or betrothed couples think 'We'll always be happy. We'll never hurt or disappoint each other because we are so in love'? I was young enough once to believe that.
Reality hits you square in the eyes, the first time you experience disappointment. The first time you feel hurt by your darling husband's actions or lack thereof. The truth is, the more you love someone, the more power they have to hurt you. The truth is we all go into marriage with expectations. They are formed from our own parents' marriages or from ideals we've set up in our minds. One day we realise that 'Prince Charming' isn't so perfect, that the pedestal we've set up is crumbling. Likewise he learns that we aren't always perfect princesses too.
That's why true love is unconditional. We learn to love our spouses just the way that they are, bad habits and all. We learn to forgive what they do because true love forgives and does not harbour resentment. What you feel when you first get married isn't really true love. That develops over time.. that's why in the early days its easy to hold on to things, to feel hurt and it isn't easy to forgive. That comes with years of practicing forgiveness and tolerance and denying selfish desires and surrendering the things that bind us.
Marriage is a 50/50 proposition.
No Way! In order for marriage to be all that its meant to be, you both have to give 100% of yourselves, your love and your commitment and passion. There shouldn't be any measuring of what's given or comparison done either. True love is not selfish or self-servicing, rather it is concerned only with the welfare of the other and is, in fact, self-sacrificing.
There's no room in a marriage for a third party...
Surprise!... yes, there is... GOD must be the center of your marriage. Without Him, the tidal waves of life are just going to turn your little love boat right over. You have to turn to Him in prayer constantly. When you need counsel, when you need comfort, when you need answers in your marriage... turn to God. Don't seek your answers in the world.. a world which doesn't support marriage.. a world where Satan rules and we all know that he is the mortal enemy of marriage and family life. Commit your marriage to Him right from the start and you will already have an advantage over other couples.
I'm no expert and I will repeat that even though I've been married for 21 years.. I am still growing, still learning, still being perfected. For a younger couple though who may ask 'What's the secret to your long marriage?' Here are some of my 'secrets'...
1) My secret tool for handling conflicts is "This issue is not more important than my husband and my marriage (works for when you're sweating the small stuff i.e. clothes left on the floor, petty arguments) I tend to use the visual.. I'd rather have my husband than have xyz. It even works on bigger issues too... it helps to put things into perspective. Is anything so important that I would rather not have him in my life?
2)Hold yourself accountable for maintaining your core values and your vows and commitment. (This means examine your motives constantly and be honest with yourself about where your actions take you.) If you recognise something threatening the integrity of your marital vows.. beat a hasty retreat out of there!
3)Always be open and honest... telling even small lies can catch up with you. Honesty is really important in building trust in a marriage. If your husband cant trust you in little things, he'll not want to trust you in the big ones.
4) Never keep secrets... there should be nothing about you or that you do that you cannot share with your spouse. If there is something, its very likely that it has the potential to undermine your relationship. Warning lights should be going off in your mind.
5) Dialogue is VERY important. Proper communication is necessary for a healthy relationship. You can't expect your husband to read your mind or guess your needs.. neither should he expect you to do the same. I learned this lesson the hard way and spent many years 'suffering in silence' when I should have spoken out about what I wanted and needed. Bear in mind that 'proper' means that there is a right way and a wrong way to have dialogue. You can come across as needy and demanding or disrespectful if done the wrong way.. which causes the man to shut down and shut out (another lesson learned the hard way!)
6)We all have hot points in our relationships.. you know, those things most likely to start a cold war in your house. Know your enemy... arm yourself with knowledge about those weak areas and learn how to keep them from taking control.
7) There is no place for pride in your marriage. It makes a cold bedfellow too. I don't know about you but I find it very difficult to ignore the voice inside me that urges me to make the first move to resolve a conflict. I find it impossible to go to bed angry.. unresolved issues keep me up all night (usually in a pathetic heap of crying flesh on the floor).
8) Be the change you want to see. You might be surprised to know that when you start giving what you want to receive.. somehow you actually start to receive those things. Removing our focus from what we want for ourselves to how much more we can give to our loved ones, somehow effects a change in them to want to please us as well.
9) Marriage is like a plant. It wont flourish unless you feed it with unconditional love, patience and tolerance, water it with sacrifice, forgiveness and trust and fertilize it with much prayer and faith.
10) You are the heart of the home. Your husband is the head. Your job is to nurture, support and love unconditionally. Your care is what makes the house a home, your love is the heartbeat of the family. Never forget the special role you play and how much your husband depends upon your gentle love to create a haven for him from the fierce gales of the outside world.
So, there is my rather long piece of advice to newlyweds or betrothed couples. There wasn't room for details, but I hope its of benefit to someone.
Writing it all down has served as re-affirmation for myself for tough days when I question my value to my family, my husband, the world at large. Here it is.. in black and white.. the truths of what a wife really is or should be. An ideal I keep on striving for.. its a journey not yet done.
God's blessings to everyone!