I remember the moment so clearly. The wedding day had passed. The honeymoon was over. Still fond memories from the stag do at nightclubs in Prague. I was on my couch at home and it hit me…marriage is here. No turning back. No walking away.
And marriage doesn’t give you an opportunity to warm up. Similar to forcing a baseball player into a game without an opportunity to throw some pitches in the bullpen. No coach would do this. It is dangerous. The pitcher will be ineffective. Eventually his arm will loosen, but the pitcher will take his shots along the way.
Marriage is the same way. It throws people into the game without an opportunity to warm up. And this usually means newlyweds take their shots. I certainly took mine. And those shots hurt, but my short time in marriage has revealed some truths.
I wish I knew these truths when I was a newlywed. They would have prevented some tough times.
I want to share these truths with you. Marriage doesn’t allow us to warm up. But these truths will prepare you for the journey ahead and prevent a few painful days. Here they are…10 truths that will help newlyweds have a great marriage.
1.) Happily ever after is a pipe dream. Don’t pursue it.
The Hollywood storyline is a pipe dream. You know. The one where the couple separates, gets back together, and no one is ever sad again. Ever.
Yes, happiness is a good thing. Thank God for it. But the Bible does not support the pursuit of happiness. And the reality of marriage doesn’t substantiate it.
Marriage was created by God, so it will bear fruit from the tree of its creator. Qualities like joy, peace, and love stamp a healthy marriage. Those qualities endure through the hardships and difficulties of marriage. Pursue those if you want a great marriage.
2.) Keep your arguing private and your praise public.
Ever been around a couple who decided to put on the boxing gloves and go 10 rounds in a shopping mall? Awkward. Even if you are angry or frustrated, public arenas are not for releasing verbal blows to your spouse.
Here is the other side of the coin. NEVER make derogatory statements about your spouse in public. Do not even say something remotely negative. Maybe you need to blow off steam. Maybe your spouse doesn’t understand. But poker night with the boys is a terrible time to release frustrations. Ladies, girls night is no place for you to unload everything you don’t like about your husband. Your marriage will be much better if you start this early.
Use the public arena as a place to build up your spouse. The world needs to see this. Show others you honor your spouse and you value your marriage.
3.) Nothing is more important than your marriage.
Aside from God, of course.
Right now, you might be in the honeymoon stage. So you couldn’t imagine someone or something becoming more important than your spouse. But eventually the potion will wear off. Real life will set in.
In the months and years to come, job, hobbies, and friendships will fight for their place on your hierarchy of priorities. Hold this truth close: nothing other than the creator of marriage, God, is more important than your marriage. Hold it in high regard. God does. You should too.
4.) Sex isn’t mind blowing initially. It takes time and practice.
Culture’s romanticized portrait of sex robs Christians from experiencing God’s design for it in marriage. Sex is awkward and strange initially. If you experience this as a newlywed, don’t get frustrated. You haven’t done anything wrong. Sex is a process. It was designed this way. This is why one-night stands destroy lives.
Sex was created as a gift from God to be used within the boundary of marriage. And this gift will come more natural and be less awkward as you learn one another. Fortunately, you have the rest of your life to figure it out. Keep practicing.
5.) The world doesn’t care about your marriage. You must protect it.
You know who cares about your marriage other than you and your spouse? No one. Ok, maybe that’s too harsh. But even your church and family will gladly accept your time if you give it to them. You must protect your marriage. Do not expect others to do it.
If you value excellence in your marriage (and you should), get in the habit of telling people, “NO!” Do it often. Do it unapologetically. Don’t expect the world to value or protect your marriage. Plan date nights. Prioritize your schedule to spend time with your spouse. If you don’t, your marriage will fail.
6.) Marriage is two broken people devoting themselves to one another in a broken world.
Despite what your girl friends or “bros” tell you, you are not always right. You mess up. So does your spouse. This is why marriage doesn’t reach its fullness apart from God. You must allow him to refine your heart and give you the power to forgive…even when you have been hurt.
Don’t allow the critics and cynics in the broken world around you to demoralize you. Most of the people negative about marriage in general, or your spouse in particular, are jealous of what you have. This world is broken. It will tell you divorce is ok. But God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16).
You are broken. Your spouse is broken. And the world around you is broken. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. But God has a track record of taking hopeless situations and doing something great. Trust in him.
7.) Pray together every day.
I guarantee you this: if you pray together every single day, your marriage will NOT fail. I dare you to take me up on it. In fact, a recent study by the National Association of Marriage Enhancement (http://www.nameonline.net) concluded couples who pray together regularly have a divorce rate less than 1%.
But believe me, this won’t be easy. Satan will do whatever he can to prevent regular prayer in your marriage. I know this from experience.
If you want to divorce-proof your marriage, pray constantly with your spouse. But be prepared for a fight. Satan also knows the powerful, unifying effects of prayer. And he will use any tactic necessary to divert you from it.
8.) You will fight, but the war is not against your spouse.
Fighting is inevitable. In fact, a marriage without fighting often reveals a lack of passion for the relationship. Anything you are passionate about you will fight for. So, take some comfort in your arguments and disagreements.
Having said that, never fight or argue with the goal of winning. You are not in a war with your spouse. Marriage is not a battlefield with you and your spouse on opposing teams. And never try to injure your spouse with your words. This is toxic.
You and your spouse are on the same team, and your fight is against Satan.
Wounding and injuring your spouse during fights will lead to the death of your marriage. Fight against Satan by using your arguments to draw you closer to your spouse. And ultimately allow them to pull you closer to God.
9.) Comparison will rob your marriage of joy.
Like a blood-hungry vampire, comparison will suck the life out of your marriage. Never allow yourself to make the mistake of comparing your marriage to another marriage or comparing your spouse to another. The relationship God created between you and your spouse is unique. When you compare your relationship to another, you rob the relationship of the unique plan God has created for it.
Comparison is not healthy. It is not productive. And it will veer your marriage off God’s path and down a dead end road.
10.) Marriage dies when selfishness lives.
Go ahead and write this down…the joy you experience in marriage is directly dependent upon the level of selfishness present. Selfishness breeds conditional thinking (“If you, then I”), promotes lying and manipulation, hinders trust, and prevents apologetic postures. And all of these will destroy a marriage.
Wake up everyday devoted to the needs and desires of your spouse above your own. Doing this is a challenge. It requires a strong devotion to God and a spirit of humility.
Selflessness is counter-culture and counter-intuitive. But it is fuel for a thriving marriage.
What are other truths for newlyweds? Maybe you have been married a while and have some advice that could help some young men and women transform their marriage? Leave a comment below and let’s continue the conversation.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!