Congratulations on your recent wedding. It may have been last week or a few years ago, but if you consider yourself a newlywed and are looking for Christian advice, I hope this will be a help and encouragement to you. Even if you are not a newlywed, you may find help in these simple reminders.
Make Your Spouse Your Best Friend
You don’t have to sever ties with other friends when you get married; however, you should build a relationship with your spouse that will endure through your life. Friends will come and go. Relationships will change. People move and distance strains old friendships. But your spouse will be with you the rest of your life. Keep that in mind as you begin to build a relationship with one another.
Obviously you already have a special bond or you would not be married. Congratulations. Don’t stop building your love for one another just because the preacher presented you to the crowed as Mr. and Mrs. Newlywed. Your lifelong journey together is just beginning. Work on your relationship by building more and more trust in your spouse. Create experiences that you two can fondly look back upon and remember with joy. This does not have to be expensive trips and gifts. Living your life with shared experiences will bring you closer together.
After returning home from our first four-year term on the mission field I struggled to understand that my friends had experienced four years without my wife and me. They built memories and shared a life with someone else in our place. We are still best of friends with them, but they will never know what we went through on the field and we can’t understand their lives either. But you know who was with me? My wife. There is no one on this earth who can say they fought the same battles or enjoyed the same experiences as I did except her. Our relationship is stronger today because we have grown together as friends.
Honor God in Your Relationship
To build a strong Christian home and family you must honor God and His Word. When you begin ignoring the principles of the Bible then you cannot expect to have a good relationship. Go to church. Read God’s Word. Ask God for guidance in your marriage.
Respect Each Other
When you were dating there was a mutual respect—otherwise you probably would not have gotten married. Don’t lose that.
In general, men like to be respected for their intelligence and physical strength. Wives, feed that ego. It may sound silly to you, but when you respect this strength and ego you will build a stronger husband who wants to do more and more to cultivate a relationship with you.
Ladies want to be respected for their creativity and resourcefulness. Men, respect that in her. She wants to be an asset to your life and help build your marriage in a God-honoring way. She is successful when she knows she helps you be successful. Praise her for that. Let her, and others, know that you could not be as productive without her.
When you stop respecting each other you begin to tear down the strength of your relationship.
Honor One Another
Besides private respect you should publicly honor your spouse. Honoring them means to defend them before others. Speak positively and respectfully about your spouse to their friends and family.
We have all been in too many situations where spouses speak negatively about one another. Even at church functions when men get together with men, or women with women, conversations can quickly devolve to complaining about how husbands and wives do this or that. Don’t malign your spouse before others. Build them up with honor and respect.
Keep Private Matters Private
Along with honoring one another you should keep your private life private. When you have problems in your relationship you seek help from someone qualified to give the help you need. Don’t blab your problems to anyone who will listen. Your pastor can help you. Or you may have an older couple in your church who you can go to for advice. Don’t let your spouse find you you have been telling your private issues to the church gossip. That will destroy the respect and honor you have tried to build in your marriage.
Stay Out of Debt
There is a huge problem in our country concerning debt. It is not just that there is so much of it, but that it is considered normal and expected for people to be in debt. The Bible warns in many places against getting into debt. As a young couple let me implore you to obey God and avoid debt.
Proverbs 22:7 says that the one who borrows from another becomes the servant to the lender. Don’t take this lightly. If you are in debt then work as quickly as you can to get out. How can you be a servant to God if you are a servant to the bank, the car dealership, the credit card company and the rental store? If God asked you to serve Him as a missionary how many months or years would you have to work for your credit masters so that you could serve your Heavenly Master? You cannot completely serve God if you are a slave to the bank.
A Covenant Not A Contract
A contract is written to say, “if you will do this, I will do that.” Or, “if you don’t do this, then the consequences are …” In a contract what you do is dependent on the other person. However, a covenant is a promise: a one-sided promise that says you will do (or refrain from doing) certain things because you choose to do so. In marriage the covenant is made because of love. It is a promise from you to your spouse regardless of what they do or how they act.
Your marriage is a covenant with them. It completely depends on your decisions. Marriage is not a contract that is dependent on the actions of the other person.
Marriage is Never 50-50
Along the lines of your marriage not being a contract you should not see your responsibility as 50% of the responsibility. Or, another way to put it is saying that he is responsible for 50% of the marriage and she the other 50%. Doing so causes you to base your response on the actions of another—just like a contract. Each of you should feel like 100% of the success of the marriage rests on your own shoulders.
Years ago I was in a class with an older teacher. Most of the students were younger than I—in their 20s. We got on the subject of marriage one day and the teacher commented that she always thought the success of a marriage was 100% the responsibility of the wife. If the marriage failed, according to this teacher, it was the wife’s fault. I followed her comments with my own opinion. I have always felt that if a marriage failed it was solely the fault of the husband. I really believe that if my marriage has problems it will always be my fault. I have the power to rectify any problem with my wife. If problems arise it is always because I did not do right by my wife.
The younger students categorically disagreed with the teacher and me. This was not a Christian group of students. Every one of them said that a marriage was a 50-50 relationship. They believe that a marriage fails because one doesn’t do right, but has no power to control the other person’s actions.
Guess who had been married and divorced in the class? Some of them more than once. Most of them admitted to having had multiple bad relationships. The teacher had been happily married for over 40 years. I am quickly approaching 20 years of marriage and couldn’t be happier in my relationship with my wife.
Take 100% of the responsibility in your marriage and you will have a stronger foundation for problem solving and relationship building.
Don’t Read Each Other’s Mail
More important than the mail you get in a little box in front of your house is the mail God sent to each of you in Ephesians 5. Basically it says, “Husbands, love your wife.” To the wife, “Wife, submit to your husband.” These are messages sent to specific people. You should not read the mail that has not been addressed to you.
To the wife reading the mail God sent to her in Ephesians 5 you simply need to submit. God has given authority in the family to the husband. God will hold him responsible for the way he leads; therefore, wife, you need to submit to his authority.
Men, God’s letter to you is to love your wife and be aware that you are held accountable for the leadership in your home. Whether she submits or not is not your responsibility. Yours is to love.
Don’t read each others mail. If God told you to love then it is to be done regardless of her actions. If God told you to submit then He wants you to do so even if your husband does not love. Read your own mail and keep your nose out of your spouse’s.
Take Interest in Your Spouse’s Interests
I am not saying that men need to learn to cross stitch (however, you may find you enjoy it), but you need to at least be interested enough in your wife’s hobbies and passions to support her. Your relationship will not get stronger if you roll your eyes every time your wife talks about a new dress pattern she found on sale. Ladies, you may be surprised as to how genuine interest in woodworking or fishing can open up conversation opportunities that you thought you would never have. You don’t need to learn to field dress a deer, but don’t huff and sigh every time he brings up the topic with his friends.
You can honor, respect and strengthen your marriage by being supportive of one anothers interests.
Your Newlywed Tips
Are you just starting out? Or, are you an old pro at marriage? Share your thoughts and concerns. Maybe you have seen a certain way God has taught you one of the above principles, I would love for you to write about it in the comments below.
King James Version Bible, (KJV)
www.youtube.com “When God Made You” by Newsong