Well, after 13 years of marriage, i'm confident we aren't qualified to be marriage counselors.
But "on the other hand," sang Tevia, i look around me. I talk to people. More often, i listen to people. And i observe that the marriage my husband and i have is significantly healthier and happier than 60% of the marriages around me, young marriages and old marriages alike. So i wonder if i could be helpful.
Then "on the other other hand," well, maybe that's too many hands...but marriage has been on my heart a LOT lately. I want to have a way to influence people's ideas about marriage. I think the world has had way too much influence on the concept of what it means to be married, and there are so few of us left who think marriage is forever, that we have to speak out, or else there won't be any such thing as marriage in a couple of generations.
O.k. enough introduction.
A couple of things i know for sure have helped save my marriage. More than saved it -- made it thrive.
So i think i'll share a couple, and if y'all like it, let me know, and i'll share a few more later. I might share a few more later, even if you don't let me know. I've noticed i have a fairly quiet readership. I might just assume you love it!
My first set of suggestions for a happy marriage are going to be geared toward those who are considering marriage. How you make the all-important decision matters monumentally.
ADVICE TO SINGLES CONSIDERING MARRIAGE
I am a Christian, a follower of Christ, a reader of the Bible, and my husband is too. One of the things that amazed me when i got married is how much marriage illustrates to us the intimacy that God wants to have with humankind.
1. I recommend strongly that before anyone gets married to anyone, that he and she are resolute followers of Jesus Christ. A marriage centered around God has strength that cannot be found in one another.
Now, if you've read my blog in years past, you may know that a few years into our marriage, my husband and began to have some serious spiritual struggles, which some might refer to as "backsliding." And with backsliding, comes fighting. Well, fighting can come without backsliding too, but bear with me. This is where the second recommendation becomes especially important.
2. You and your proposed spouse MUST be able to commit one hundred percent to each other that marriage means forever. And Divorce is not an option.
Marriage with an escape pod (divorce if we fall out of love) is not a marriage. It's shacking up with an expensive and messy move-out clause. If you're only planning to stay in this until you stop feeling gushy on the inside, please understand that it will stop feeling gushy, warm, and fuzzy, and maybe much sooner than you imagine. There will absolutely be days, moments, and hours, when you DO.NOT.LIKE that person you married. And this is when you must choose to love, because as DC Talk explains, "love is a verb."
I've heard a lot of folks, embarking on the idea of divorce, say "he's just not the same man i married."
Let's think about that for a minute, please. You husband or wife will absolutely not be the same person in 5, 10 or 15 years. Certainly not in 20, 25, or 30. People grow, mature, change. They are damaged, hurt, and injured. They are healed, enlightened, and transformed. No one stays the same. They shouldn't.
When you get married, you're sort of signing a blank check.
That brings us to #3, which could also be labeled #1a.
3/1a. Since you cannot know what the future will bring, it is imperative that you receive divine confirmation of your choice for marriage.
You can call me crazy all day long, but if you don't know that this person is the one, then when that day comes when you wake up and find your spouse's ugliest moment yet, and you're sure you've made a mistake, you'll be looking for the reset key. Avoid the reset key. Get a word from God.
There are two moments in my life when i knew without any doubt in any fiber of my being that i was doing the thing that God wanted from me at that moment, and one of them is when i married my husband. That sureness has encouraged me through the years. No matter what anything looks like, i can be sure that i am planted in the marriage that God meant for me. So i can weather the storm.
Y'all keep in mind when reading this. I have a WONDERFUL marriage. It's just that even wonderful marriages have really.bad.days.