This past weekend, my wife and I celebrated six years of marriage. I am grateful to God for the gift that he has given me. I am thankful to my wife for putting up with me for over half a decade. At this stage of our life, I am excited for what our relationship has evolved into. God has been good to us and we are together thankful to Him for his perpetual grace.
Today, I want to share what I have learned. Some of these lessons were learned the hard way. All of these lessons are still yet to be performed perfectly. Here are six lessons I learned from being married for six years:
1. My relationship with Jesus has a direct correlation to the relationship I have with my wife. Jesus said that if we abide in His word, then we are truly His disciples (Jn. 8:31). In my marriage, I found a direct link between the amount of time I devote to my relationship with Jesus and the quality of the relationship I have with my wife. As soon as my spiritual disciplines began to falter and wane, so did my marriage. As soon as my prayer life became passionless, so did my marriage. As soon as Jesus was not positioned as my Senior Pastor (1 Pet. 5:4), immediately the deteriorating effect of this was visible in my marriage. If I love Jesus more than anything else, then my marriage will blossom and flourish. It will not be perfect all the time. It will have the fair share of disagreements and misunderstandings. But the point is not how many times you do not see eye to eye. The point is how you deal with the mundane and trivial complexities of life when you put two sinners together. How much grace-infused, spirit-empowered effort do I put in to being distinctly Christian in thought, word and deed? This has an exponential ability of either making my marriage outstanding or hardly worth standing in.
2. Date Night with your wife should not be an infrequent potentiality but a consistent actuality. This has done absolute wonders to our relationship. Some people ask me “Why are you going on a date with your wife – Don’t you live with her? Don’t you guys see each other every day?” I would answer both of those questions with a resounding yes! But, a change in an expected ambiance stimulates conversation and changes your perspective. Whether we are at a bustling restaurant, getting frozen yogurt, taking a walk by the beach or getting our Sunday morning coffee — it frees up our mind and allows us to focus specifically on one another. The date night is usually scheduled at least once a week. We allow flexibility due to various events we are a part of. Date night became a regular rhythm of our relationship.
3. Decisions should be discussed and made together. I think I just heard some of you chuckle as you read the title of this lesson. Trust me, there was no chuckling going on when this mistake was made by me. My memory fails me at this moment to think of an exact instance. Maybe this is for my own benefit. There is a reason why the bible says that “the two shall become one flesh” (Eph. 5:31). I would say that the couple that makes decisions together stays together. This is what learned. Never agree to something until you have spoken with your spouse. If you want to accentuate your male bravado, work on those guns until you need a license or when you can get tickets to the gun show. But the decision making process is not where you get creative. It is really simple. Let the other person know the following: “I have to speak with my wife first” or “Let me talk to my wife, before I make this decision.” After all, who do you ultimately want to have good relations with? Your buddy or your better half? No decision is too small to not ask your spouse (when in doubt) and no decision is too big for it not to benefit when two people are involved in making it.
4. Role Clarity needs to be embraced and applied. There is no confusion to our roles in the marriage because they are clearly defined for us in the Bible. God said in Genesis that it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him (Gen. 2:18). The husband is the leader and the wife is the helper. The husband — lovingly, graciously and tenderly, leads his wife for her own spiritual benefit. The spiritual climate in the home is dependent upon the spiritual fortitude of the husband. The husband is the priest of the home. The husband is the pastor of the home. The husband is the spiritual guide of the home. The husband is the initiator of spiritual activity within the home. The husband needs to be like Jesus and needs to be pursuing Jesus if he wants his wife to follow him when he leads. If I need to remind my wife of my level of authority, this means that I have already lost it at best or never had it to begin with at worst. In addition, I learned that it is best to have my wife do what she does best and I will do what I do best. She loves to interior design. She loves to creatively present delicious food. This is great. I don’t argue with the color of curtains she picks out. When and how to hang them is another story.
5. A common & agreed upon spiritual platform is essential. I learned that the way in which spiritual disciplines are practiced differ from person to person. This might depend on the upbringing of the individual or any other number of variables. Some families spent their free time playing bible trivia. Others spent summers at home memorizing Scripture verses. Still others engaged in spiritual disciplines with the same passion but in a different variety. I realized that my wife prefers Francis Chan’s Crazy Love over Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology. I realized the importance of understanding my spouse’s spiritual discipline platform. Sometimes, evenings work best for dual devotions and a time for mutual prayer. We found something that works for the both of us and we stick to it. The issue here is not with methodology but with consistency.
6. The marriage is not about me. To my great surprise, I learned that the marriage is not about me. It is about my wife. And the great thing is this: when I make everything about her — the favor is reciprocated in greater measure than in which it was extended! A simple concept but a tough one to actualize during the mundane routine of life. By God’s grace, I am attempting to live out Eph. 5:25. I cannot possibly love my wife as much as Christ loved the church. But, I can attempt to do so. I want to please my wife. I want to do what she likes. I want to serve her. I want her to feel loved. I want her to feel special. I want to pleasantly surprise her. This does not come naturally. In fact, some days this does not happen at all. I fail at this when I derail from focusing on what Christ did for me, in my place on the cross. This gospel that I mention so frequently is not something that has happened at one time. It is something that continues to happen in the mean time. This means of grace is the only vehicle by which I can forget about myself and focus on my spouse.
Question: If you have been married for less than six years, what lessons have you learned? If you have been married for more than six years, what advice can you offer to those who are just starting this journey? If you are not married at all, what are you doing to prepare yourself for this God-ordained covenant?