Let me start off by making one thing clear: I am not saying that I am an expert at marriage. That would be laughable at best, insulting at worst. I’ve been married for less than 9 months, people. I’m no fool … I know I’m wet behind the ears.
However, I am proud to say that Brandon and I took our engagement very seriously. We knew that marriage was a huge commitment, and we wanted to go into marriage with both eyes wide open (or as open as possible … let’s be honest, you can never be completely prepared!).
So we talked. We prayed. And we read …
… a lot!
Some of these books were given to us during premarital counseling, while other books we bought ourselves. We read some of them separately and some of them together. But they were all great because they helped to open the lines of communication and discuss issues that we may not have discussed otherwise.
And I’m continuing to read. As part of Bible study I’m currently in with another married woman, we are reading this book:
I’ve only read one chapter so far, but I can tell that I’m really going to like it. She’s open, honest, and funny with her writing and her teaching.
So today I just wanted to share a few words of wisdom that I have found within some of these books. Honestly, Brandon and I haven’t even had to deal with many of these issues yet (again, we’re only 9 months in!), but I know that at some point in our marriage, we will probably deal with all of these things.
My hope is that everyone that is reading this post can relate in one way or another to the advice that I’m about to pass on (from the oh-so wise authors, NOT MYSELF! ). Whether it be a marital relationship, dating relationship, friendship, parent-child relationship, or working relationship … we are relational beings and I think we all want to improve the relationships we have with others!
We all have a different love languages.
Gary Chapman is the author of the New York Times Bestseller “The 5 Love Languages.” In his book, he shares his belief that there are 5 love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
We tend to show love to others based on our primary love language. But if your spouse has a different love language than you, he or she may not recognize when you are trying to express your love.
So the key?
Discover what your spouse’s love language is, and then show he/she love in that particular way.
For example, my primary love language is physical touch. Even when I talk to friends, you’ll notice that I often put a hand on their arm while I’m speaking, or hit them as I laugh (oops!).
Because Brandon knows that this is my primary love language, he goes out of his way to hold my hand, hug me, or even just put a hand on my back as we’re walking. These are all ways that I can feel his love for me.
In the back of Gary Chapman’s book, he has a quiz to complete to find out what your love language is. There are also quizzes online that can do the same thing. Try them out!
Develop the “Habit of Happiness.”
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott (I love that a married couple have the same name … hilarious) wrote the book “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts.”
One of my favorite tips in their book talks about developing a habit of happiness. “Happiness in marriage has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with will,” (pg. 61).
The authors quoted a research study that found that the level of a couple’s joy was based on each person’s ability to “adjust to things beyond his or her control,” (pg. 66).
We can’t always control our circumstances. We most definitely cannot control another person’s behavior or attitude. But we can control our own attitude.
Cut the Apron Strings.
“The 10 Commandments of Marriage” by Ed Young includes a great chapter about cutting the apron strings.
Genesis 2:24 reads “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
Our families are very important to all of us. And our parents should continue to be a big part of our lives, even after marriage. But after marriage, our parents should not be the preeminent figures in our lives!
For me, this means going to Brandon with a problem or struggle before going to my mom. I can still share my life with my mom, but Brandon should be the primary person I run to.
It also means keeping marital problems between a husband and a wife. “… when conflicts or issues arise between married couples, they should never first call mom and dad for advice. Rather, they should go to one another and, using the principles laid out in God’s Word, prayerfully try to work out their own problems, seeking outside counsel only if necessary,” (pg. 50).
Forgive, forgive … and then forgive some more.
Matthew 18: 21-22 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
In Gary Thomas’ book, “Sacred Marriage,” he says, “I believe one of marriage’s primary purposes is to teach us how to forgive,” (pg. 166).
We are all sinful human beings that make mistake, after mistake, after mistake. Yet God chose to show us grace (through his Son) and forgive us of our sins.
Whoa. If He can do that, why can’t I forgive Brandon for forgetting to unplug the iron??
OK, so I’m kidding about that last part. But in all seriousness, I think forgiveness is difficult for many of us. And even if we say we’ve forgiven an act, we may still harbor resentment in the back of our minds or hearts. But we’ve been called to forgive others. So let’s use our marriages as a means of practicing forgiveness over, and over … and over again.
Celebrate your differences … and discuss your roles.
Recently I was in a discussion with a few married women, and I mentioned the recipes that I post on my blog. The discussion quickly turned, as they started telling me that I needed to “train my husband now.” Their general point was that I shouldn’t be doing all of the cooking and cleaning now, because my husband will expect the same thing for the rest of our lives. Instead, I should start having him cook a few times a week, help with dishes, etc.
This was the first thing that came to my mind:
While I appreciated their advice because I believe it came from a good place, I don’t necessarily agree with the sentiment.
I believe that God gave different talents and interests to Brandon and me. And I am very thankful for those differences!
In “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts,” the authors suggest talking about the different roles you each want to take in your marriage. They don’t always have to fit the “typical” mold, but they should fit whatever works best for you and your marriage.
For example, I like cooking and I know I’m better at it than Brandon is (he’d agree with this statement). So why torture both of us by making him cook? He wouldn’t enjoy it, and I wouldn’t enjoy eating Kraft Mac and Cheese every week.
On the flip side, Brandon enjoys mowing the lawn and fixing things around the house … THANK GOODNESS. I would hate doing those things, so I’m so thankful for his willingness to tackle those chores with gusto!
(Doing manly-work. )
I know when we have children some of our “roles” may need to shift, but I have married a man who I know will be willing to shift roles, if need be. So I’m not going to worry about it right now … I’m just going to embrace our differences and keep on cookin’!
I think that’s enough “wisdom” for one day. I hope that you’ve read something that relates to your life. And I also hope that if any of you have marriage advice, that you’ll share the wealth and pass it on!!
Question for ya …
What’s your marriage advice?
What do you think your love language is?