FIRST-PERSON: My first years of marriage
LEWISVILLE, Texas (BP) -- Before I got married, people told me the first few years of marriage would be difficult. Sound familiar?
But these years have been nothing short of a special blessing in my life.
This does not mean my marriage has been perfect. It is simply a testimony that God has helped us start well. What contributed to such a good start?
Here are some of the basic lessons I am practicing that have helped me do my part in making the early years of our marriage great:
Love HIM (Matthew 22:37)
My love for my husband Donald flows from my love for Jesus. Until I love Jesus most of all, I will struggle to love my husband rightly. Daily prayer and Bible study are key ways I keep my heart focused on loving Jesus. But there have been mornings when my alarm went off, I pushed snooze for an hour (yes, an hour) and rushed to get dressed, eat breakfast and get out the door.
On those days, it was noticeable that Christ was not the priority of my day. And, guess what? It affected the way I treated my husband. In fact, I remember Donald asking me one evening, "Have you had your quiet time today?" I so badly wanted to dismiss this question, but I quietly responded, "No." That evening, I was humbly reminded that if I'm going to love my husband the way he deserves to be loved and the way God commands, I must always be growing in my love for the Lord through daily Bible study and prayer.
Respect him (Ephesians 5:22-33)
Before I ever made the decision to marry Donald, I asked myself the question, "Could I respect this man as my leader and the leader of our family?" This question was important to me because Ephesians 5:22-33 commands a wife to respect her husband.
Before I stood at the altar to recite my vows, I observed Donald for three years in his spiritual and physical disciplines and concluded that he was indeed a man I could respect. So, on my wedding day, I committed to submit to him as the leader of our home just as he committed to love and serve me according to the example of Christ.
What are some of the practical ways we can show our husbands respect in marriage? 1) We should look for opportunities to compliment him in the presence of others; 2) we should find ways to serve and bless him regularly; 3) we should seek out his understanding of the Scriptures; 4) we should entrust final decision-making to him; and 5) we should acknowledge the value of his work.
Pray with him (Psalm 34:3)
Some of the sweetest times we have had as newlyweds have been moments when we have prayed together. Praying together allows us to celebrate the exciting ways God has answered our specific requests. Praying together provides me a special opportunity to better know my husband's heart for the Lord, for me and for others. To me, this is priceless. Praying together also allows me to bless my husband, because he gets to hear my thanksgiving and affection to God for him. So, as you pray for your husband in your daily quiet time, be sure not to just pray for him but with him. Attempt to pray together daily.
Forgive him (Ephesians 4:32)
You do not have to be married for long to understand the title of Dave Harvey's book, "When Sinners Say 'I Do.'" My heart is sinful and selfish, and as great as my husband is, he's a sinner too. So, when you have two sinners living together, offenses will occur. Consequently, forgiveness is not optional; it is essential.
According to Scripture, God designed marriage to reflect the power of the Gospel. And the power of the Gospel is most clearly on display when a wife forgives her husband, and God in turn uses this to promote holiness in her life. Anytime I struggle to forgive, I think of the cross and of all my sins against God that He has forgiven. In doing this, the Gospel empowers me to show the love of Christ in forgiveness to Donald. We must make every effort to express to our husbands the same lavish grace that God has shown us!
Encourage him (Proverbs 16:24).
Encouragement is not only biblical but it also is a blessing to the heart of a husband. This is why I regularly seek out opportunities to encourage my husband. I take notice when he helps me. He often does the dishes, vacuums the house and takes out the trash. This is a huge help, and I try to always thank him and recognize his servant-hearted spirit. Additionally, I look for opportunities to compliment him on his work ethic, his knowledge of Scripture or his ability to fix things. I also take interest in the hobbies and activities he enjoys. This is one of the reasons I work to coordinate our schedules to go to the gym together, although I am still working on acquiring his love for sports.
Overall, I work to do whatever it takes to encourage my husband because I know a little word or act of encouragement goes a long way to reenergize and refresh his heart. Make sure no one encourages your husband more than you. Become his biggest cheerleader and fan.
I pray that as you love Jesus first and as you love, respect, pray, forgive and encourage your husband, God will richly bless you with many wonderful years of marriage!