Worthwhile Advice for the Engaged and Newly Married
- Wednesday, May 28, 2008
When a couple becomes engaged, life becomes a blur. Whether the engagement spans a few weeks or more than a year, the period between singleness and oneness fills quickly with showers, parties, wedding preparation, and home shopping. Family and friends all want to help with anything you'll let them be involved with. And every one of them has loving advice. Everyone.
I waded through a river of opinions from people I loved during my engagement. Whether out of politeness, curiosity, or concern, I listened to each piece. But as the flood waters rose higher, I began to see that not everything I heard was worth taking to heart. I received advice like: "You need to have a baby right away. Nothing brings a couple together faster than a baby!" and, "Your husband will be happier with you if you keep a spotless house and cook every night." Or how about this one: "You can't wear lingerie without high heels."
Well, I knew I didn't want a baby right away unless God willed it. As a woman who works full time, I have never kept a spotless house or cooked every night. And as I looked at the lingerie I'd been given at a shower, I wondered, "Am I really supposed to have shoes to match every outfit?" Unless you work at Victoria's Secret, that's just not practical!
I also heard some scary advice from several couples, who, sadly, were Christians. Their advice sounded something like this: "When you get married, you'll think it's wonderful, but it's not. You won't even like each other after a few years. Marriage is terrible." In other words, "Be afraid, be very afraid!"
I know other engaged people and newlyweds face this predicament all the time. A close friend of mine laughed as she told me a horror story from her time as an engaged woman. Seems two older church ladies thought she needed a little schooling. They pulled her aside and told her exactly how to please her husband – intimately. Talk about embarrassing!
You can't take everything everybody says seriously, but whether you appreciate the advice or not, you can't turn off the advice machine either. Somehow, people mistake silence or subject-changing for an invitation to give yet more advice. Advice from loved ones has its benefits though. I did find some gems among the things I was told – positive advice that had practical application in my young marriage.
Now, though I don’t claim to be an expert, I am going to turn the tables and do a little advice-offering. I hope that having been through the engagement and newlywed process not long ago, some of the lessons I learned will help other couples embarking on this journey.
Marriage exists for the glory of God
The advice I cherish most came through talking with and observing several successful couples -- couples who showed me that the purpose of marriage is to bring glory to God. While romance, companionship, and children are all integral parts of marriage, marriage is first and foremost about serving the Creator. To see His qualities reflected in each other, and to appreciate the differences in each other, enabling us to love as Jesus loved. It’s about working together to find ways that the talents in the marriage can serve Him.
God treasures your spouse, just as He treasures you. And you must treasure Him even more than you love your spouse, as He "fills everything in every way" (Eph. 1:23). Jesus tell us in Luke14:26, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters -- yes, even his own life -- he cannot be my disciple." These verses sound strange to many people, but if you love God more than you love each other you will ultimately have a happier marriage. You will more naturally put the other's needs first because you know it pleases the Lord.
Laughter is medicine
Another jewel of advice I learned from a newly-married friend was to laugh every day. "It makes the tough times easier, and it's hard to get irritated at each other when you are laughing together," she told me. So my husband and I make a point of doing fun activities together, whether it's canoeing or playing a board game. It helps to have an outlet to relax together, and laughter comes easily this way. Also, my husband has an annoyingly genius way of making me laugh when I'm upset and wanting to pout. Proverbs 22:17 states, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength."
Anger left unaddressed destroys
Another important measure to take during your engagement is to see each other angry before the marriage. It is vital to see how the other person reacts when angry even if the issue at hand has nothing to do with the relationship. The way a person acts before the marriage will be the same way they act after the ceremony is over. If the one you love acts in a way displeasing God, consider if that person will be a good role model for bringing your future children to Jesus or in helping you grow closer to Him. If they react with verbal or physical abuse, the union should be put on hold.
If you are already married, seek support and counseling together. I cannot emphasize enough how important this piece of advice is -- I've seen many families shattered emotionally and spiritually by an abusive situation.
Consider your counselors Though there are many other things I'd like to pass along, this last admonition is strictly my own. When reflecting on advice you hear, consider its source. If the person is God-honoring, and the suggestions are practical, consider what they say. If the advice comes from the person guiding the two of you through pre-marital counseling, pay close attention. But if someone obviously unhappy with their marriage is prophesying doom and gloom, close your ears! They may unconsciously be trying to take you into the darkness with them. Keep in mind that the best marriage advice comes from the One who created marriage in the first place, so grab your Bibles often!
I'm still fairly new to my role as a wife, but I've learned a lot in a short time. I’ve learned that living with a person is nothing like dating them. I've learned that life in a fallen world brings problems which I have no control over. And I've learned that marriage is often fun, frequently inspiring, and always an adventure…and that no one cares about high heels.
Originally posted May 29, 2008
Jen Booth is a social worker and a budding author. She resides with her husband in Louisiana. You can contact her at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
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