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Lessons of Marriage

August 5, 2011

Today we are driving to Cincinnati, Ohio, to be a part of my cousin’s wedding. My sisters are bridesmaids, and my two little girls are the flower girls. It’s actually their second time being flower girls in a year. (Quite popular, they are!)

I just love weddings! I think it is mostly because I really loved my own wedding and enjoyed that day so much. My husband and I are about to celebrate 12 years of marriage … and 19 years together. We have known each other and have been together since we were both 16 and juniors in high school. I think it was love at first sight. But, oh, how we’ve changed over the years! I giggle as I look back at pictures and wipe away a tear as I think of all we’ve been through and accomplished together—with the saving grace of Jesus, our Lord.

With two weddings this past year, I began to reflect on our years of togetherness. These are a few things I’ve discovered about marriage.

1. Spiritual giants were once babies, too.
I didn’t marry a so-called “spiritual giant.” But who does? Every mature, wise person started out as a babe. I got married at the age of 23, and I now realize my expectations were set too high. I wasted years worrying about my husband’s spiritual maturity. He wasn’t turning out to be the spiritual leader I thought he should be, doing the things I thought he should do. Well, notice there’s a few too many “I’s” in that sentence! It isn’t about what I want. It’s about God shaping my husband into the man He needs him to be. And on the flip side, God needs to be able to shape me into the woman and wife He needs me to be, as well. I can’t fully mature and grow in God and focus on Him when I’m consumed with others. I can’t fully understand God’s plan or His process, but I can pray and ask God to change me and use me for His purposes.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

2. Never go to bed angry.
This lesson is one I’m still learning and one that my husband is pretty good at! As a woman, I like to pout and hold grudges and can be mean when I don’t get my way. But there is no argument, catastrophe, or marital strife that is worth sleepless nights and your marriage suffering for days. Talk it out; compromise; forgive. Storing up anger is never worth it.

“Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26).

3. Remember that your spouse is your best friend.
Over the years as my husband and I have sadly watched friends’ marriages end in divorce, we’ve asked ourselves, Why are we different? Because we LIKE each other! We want to be together! It may be funny, but it’s true. Be each other’s best friends … talk, laugh, be silly, and have a good time together. Know that there will be some days that you’ll say: “I know I love you, but right now I don’t like you very much!” But at the end of the day, there is no other person you’d rather be with than your best friend.

“A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17).

4. Be a team.
Present a united front for one another. Although it’s tempting at times, don’t give in to gossiping with girlfriends by complaining about all your husband’s faults or trash your wife with “locker room” talk with the guys. Instead, uplift and honor one another with your words—to each another and to everyone else. Sometimes you may need to confide in a close friend, but remember to respect your spouse with your words and actions and be your spouse’s number one encourager.
           This also comes into play with parenting children. Speak highly of the other parent to your children, telling them what a wonderful Mommy and Daddy they have! Present yourselves as a team to your children to give them the security of a home with two involved and loving parents. Plus, they’ll soon realize that if Mommy and Daddy are a team, they are not going to get away with too much!

“Encourage each other daily” (Hebrews 3:13).

5. The man is the head of the home; but, the wife is the heart of the home.
This is someone’s quote, but it worth repeating and believing in. A woman’s loving-kindness and gentleness will infuse the house with love, making it just not a house but a home. A lot of a wife’s womanly touches may go unnoticed, but they will be what make a husband rush out of work to be “home sweet home.” Create an atmosphere of love, where all are welcome. Pronounce your home a place of peace, where strife, chaos, and disorder have no place. In the midst of a crazy world, your family and friends will sense God’s presence in your home.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

This weekend I’m going to enjoy the celebration of lifelong love and happiness.
For those brides and grooms out there, how long have you been married and what have you learned along the way?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Ashley Kerth permalink
    August 5, 2011 9:59 am

    I have learned that when your mother-in-law comes to your house and rearranges your furniture (and let me say that she is good at decorating, she definitely missed her calling. Her house should be photographed by “House Beautiful”) let her do it. When she leaves you can move what you don’t like back to it’s original spot. Pick your battles. 🙂 By the way, I love my mother-in-law.

  2. August 5, 2011 10:02 am

    Great post, Christi! I wholeheartedly agree with everything you wrote. We will celebrate our 13th anniversary this month and got married kind of young by today’s standards. I often think that if the me of today gave advice to the me of 13 years ago I might have said to wait another year or two! But we were blessed to grow and develop as mature adults together. I think our friendship and true enjoyment of each other plus our shared faith are our marriage’s biggest assets.

    I really relate to what you said about expectations. My perception of marriage was that it would be like an extended date, and that my husband would be able to anticipate my feelings and desires and fulfill them. Ha! It was more like we were speaking two different languages (we are very different in temperament, love languages, the way we express ourselves, etc.). What a great “opportunity” to learn more about my own weaknesses and depend more on Christ.

    Finally, for those who didn’t know Christi and Matt back when they first got together, they were just as adorable and kind as they are now!

    • August 9, 2011 9:33 am

      Elise, happy 13th! You are so sweet to say that about me and Matt. You are one of the friends who knew us before we were “Matt and Christi”!! Remember driving through Taco Bell just to get a glimpse of him working? Haha! That was almost 20 years ago! Yikes! 🙂

  3. Joy Wenning permalink
    August 5, 2011 12:17 pm

    Beautiful Christi! No truer “words” have ever been spoken:) I think anyone who’s been married for any length of time can relate.

    • August 9, 2011 9:34 am

      Thanks, Joy! You need to do a guest post about raising beautiful, godly women of God! I want to mimic everything you’ve done! 🙂

  4. August 5, 2011 1:49 pm

    This is a beautiful post, Christi. Such great points about maintaining a loving, open, honest and respectful connection between you and your spouse.

    My husband and I just celebrated our 14th anniversary. Something that I think is critical to every relationship is expressing appreciation frequently. I will admit, it is one of my weaknesses, but I am working on it. It is so easy to get caught up in the tasks of each day, that I rush by my husband without showing love or saying “thank you” for the little things he does for me. On Father’s Day, I wrote something for him that I decided needed to be read by all women. If you are interested, you can read “Words He Seldom Hears,” at this link: http://www.handsfreemama.com/?p=1990.

    Thank you for reminding us all that our spouse is a blessing and must be treated as such. I am really enjoying the content on your blog.

    • August 9, 2011 9:38 am

      Rachel, I love how “real” you always are. I am not good at showing appreciation either. Most days I’m too selfish when he comes home, and I only complain to him about my day, the kids, how much I have to do, etc. etc! I love your blog post. Can I share with others? Oh, and Happy 14 Years! 😉

      • August 9, 2011 12:20 pm

        Yes, please feel free to share with others! God placed that message on my heart so we can love and appreciate each other more than we did yesterday. I am honored! Thank you!

  5. Michelle Etzkorn permalink
    August 8, 2011 9:24 am

    Thank you for your words, Christi! I frequently need reminded of these points. Your words came at a great time. We have been married for 10 years. 🙂 One piece of advice that I received before I got married was like you said “Some days you may not even like him.” Well, at the time, I was head over heels in love and I thought “oh my, that is sooooo sad that she feels that way about her husband. I will NEVER feel like that!” Well, lo and behold, I have!!! 🙂 And thank God, I heard those words so I knew that it was okay, and even normal.

    I never knew that marriage would be so hard but just like anything, the best things in life don’t always come easy. I thank God for His Word and all the wisdom we can get about marriage. And I thank God for you, Christi, and the reminder of these wonderful points today. You are a blessing!

    • August 9, 2011 9:42 am

      Michelle,
      CONGRATS on 10 years … and 3 adorable boys! What you said is so true. When you are young and in love, you can’t even imagine fighting, much less not liking him! Ha! I think that’s why it’s so important to marry your best friend, the person God created just for you, and to always look to God. (Although, sometimes I just want to pout and hold a grudge for a little bit longer before I pray and do what I need to do!!) Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

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