Really, N and I have just been recipients of the grace of God. I know of no one whose first year of marriage was as smooth as ours. I don’t say that to brag because I really don’t think we had anything to do with it. Nonetheless, here are some of the things I am learning about how to have a productive, peaceful marriage.
1. Don’t be a jerk!
This seems self explanatory but in reality it can be REALLY difficult when you’re PMS-ing, had an awful day at work or are exhausted. It’s seriously the number one piece of advice I’d give anyone getting married but especially the wives. We gals do not often realize what a weapon we possess with our tongues and how we can tear our husbands down in a single second with a cruel statement.
Also, your husband isn’t likely going to tell you “Hey! Stop being a jerk!” even if you ask him to. Why? Because he’s not a moron and doesn’t want you to be a jerk AND try to kill him. Trust me on this. Be nice.
2. Think about what your spouse wants you to do. And do it.
There is a sacrificial aspect of marriage that flies right over most people’s heads it seems. (At least these days.) If your wife wants the toilet seat down (she does) set it down. (Pro tip: more points if you set it down than drop it.) If your husband wants your craft supplies picked up from the kitchen table before you eat dinner, then pick ’em up. I know that this point is SUPER ANNOYING when you first are living together and getting acclimated to life as “us” instead of “you and me”. Replace the toilet paper roll. Don’t leave your undies hanging on the door handle. You aren’t the only person in this relationship, so act like it.
3. Realize your spouse is a human being.
At some point we’ve all used the line “What? I’m only human.” or some variant thereof. A marriage essential is realizing that your spouse too is only human. You make mistakes and want grace – great! Expect that your spouse will make at least twice as many as you do (twice as many because even the best of us only catch about half of our own faults anyway) and give more grace than you’d want to receive if the roles were reversed. This is hard, so don’t kid yourself or make excuses for holding grudges about issues.
4. Realize your spouse’s annoying traits will NOT go away. No matter what you do.
You want your husband to drop that nasty, embarrassing habit? He won’t. And all your fits and whining and nagging will not change him. That’s life. And you’re not so charming yourself.
5. Never correct your spouse in public.
At least, not on anything major. Serious issues that need to be resolved in marriage NEED to be addressed in private if you have any hope of your marriage surviving. Do not use dinner dates with friends to chide or shame your spouse. That’s 100% always absolutely inappropriate. Never, ever do it.
6. Think WE not ME.
Psychologists claim they can tell if a marriage is going to last by whether or not married persons refers to themselves singlularly or as a couple. I don’t know if this is true but I do know that if you want your marriage to last more than a couple years, you simply must to get into team mode.
I can’t stand feminism because it pits men and women against each other. We were meant to be on the same team! Don’t think, “I’ll give 50% and they’ll give 50% and it’ll be an even hundred.” That’s just dumb. You’re both on the same team so you both have to be in 100% or you won’t win. End of story. Have your spouse’s back, no matter what. (With obvious exceptions for issues like abuse, of course.)
For my hubs and me it’s shooting and working out (more specifically CrossFit). I did neither of these things before I met him. The first time we went shooting just the two of us, I literally left never wanting to hold a gun again. But I decided to keep at it and try to overcome my fear so that we would have a hobby we enjoyed together. Now, I’m proud to say, I can load and empty his Glock 9mm all by myself. Yes, sometimes I have to imagine zombies so that I’ll actually be able to pull the trigger but it’s become something I enjoy because I chose to, not because it came naturally to me.
8. Think of your spouse as your opportunity to serve.
I know many people will be left aghast at the thought of this but it’s necessary. There are things that just don’t bug me – empty toilet paper roll, a couple dishes in the sink overnight, etc. You know who they really bug? That’s right. The hubby! The response on these minor issues can, at least in my opinion, really make or break your marriage.
I personally have made a commitment to replace the toilet paper roll whenever it’s empty and to make an effort to get the dishes done as soon as we’re finished using them. I’m not perfect with it but I make a concerted effort. Is that a big deal? No. Is it something that N could just as easily do himself? Yup. But I have the honor of serving my husband, especially in the little things. What are dishes and loo paper compared to finishing out a marriage strong after 50 or 60 years? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
This seems like a good place to call it quits. Please don’t walk away thinking I have this all down pat. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sometimes the simple things we know we need to do are the hardest to accomplish. At the end of the day, a marriage only survives in a culture like ours by the grace of God. Prayer is essential to keeping a godly marriage alive.
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Photos are by my dear friend, Nancy Noble. Check out her stuff!