Things I have Learned [so far] About Marriage

Sunday, June 05, 2016

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My husband and I just recently celebrated our 2nd Wedding Anniversary. How we celebrated it will be featured in a separate blog. But this has been going through my mind for the past days and so I decided to write it down and share it. (Disclaimer: Might be a lengthy piece but it’s a good one.)

1. Marriage is never about my relationship with my spouse

I learned that my marriage is NEVER about my relationship with Edward. It’s ALL about my relationship with God. I understood that the state of my relationship with God and my faith in Him manifests on how I interact with, treat, respond to Edward. So how deep, how intimate, how strong or how cold our relationship with God, it would reflect on how we would relate with our spouse. If I love my spouse, it’s because my heart is overflowing with the love of God. If I honor and respect my spouse, it’s because I honor and respect the One who gave me my spouse. If in case one day I will commit adultery against my spouse, it will be because I have no more fear of the Lord. How I treat my spouse is a reflection of my love and reverence before the Lord. I remember the time when Edward and I had a fight. I was so mad at him and disappointed but because God has filled me with so much of His love and grace, I was able to lower down my pride and be the first to say sorry as the Holy Spirit prompted me even though it was so clear to me that it was his fault. I didn’t care anymore who’s right or wrong, I didn’t even care how Edward would respond, what’s important to me is I obeyed the Lord. So if we want a great marriage, seek God and center everything to Him.

Tip: If you want to have a good relationship with your spouse, get right with God first!

2. How you behave around your parents may help you foresee your behavior around your [future] spouse

As wives, God commanded us to submit ourselves to our husbands for they are the head of the wives (Eph. 5:22-23). Head here refers to leadership or authority. Now, as singles, the immediate authority we have is our parents. Sometimes [or more often than not], our parents assign us with things we don’t want to do. Usually, we have a very strong conviction why we don’t want to. Maybe there are factors that we see which they don’t, or maybe what’s important to them may not be important to us at the moment, or simply we just have different opinions coming from different generations. So the question is, how do we respond to our parents during such times? Do we immediately obey? Do we argue with them? Do we negotiate? Or do we rebel against them? Whether we like it or not, our husbands have been appointed by God to lead us. Now there are times that they will have a decision which to our own "wise" understanding may not be very sound [usually, we, women think that we are wiser and more decisive than our husbands, don't we? hehe]. So, how do we respond now? By the way, God’s definition of submission requires obedience even if we don’t agree coz if we do agree, that’s not submission at all, that’s merely doing at our own will.

Tip: For singles, if you want to obey the Lord’s command to submit to your [future] husbands, start practicing now. Submit to your parents! For married, it’s never too late. Repent, ask God to change your heart and ask for His grace to help you see the beauty of following the Lord’s design for husband and wife. Then practice, practice, practice! Eventually, it will flow naturally.        

3. There is no such a thing as petty issue

What’s big a deal for you may not be as much as a deal for him or vice versa. But still, it’s a deal you both have to resolve. Otherwise, you won’t move on. Each of you may be feeling unimportant or rejected because you thought it’s petty which may be synonymous to insignificant or irrelevant. Or worst, it will be kept for a while and will later explode that it’s too hard for both of you to pick up the pieces [although nothing is too hard for the Lord.] No one is unimportant. Nobody wants to feel unimportant. What matters to him should matter to you as well. Afterall, he matters to you because you love him, right?

Tip: Always keep the “You” in mind rather than “I.”

4. Choose your battle

You don’t have to fight over everything. Am I contradicting myself? Did I just say, there is no such a thing as petty issue? No. I’m not. I am just saying, don’t look at everything as offending for you. Try to exercise patience. Proverbs 19:11 says, “a person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Don’t be too sensitive. Rather fill your heart and mind with good things in such a way that negativity will not have its space in your heart and only the peace of God will reign which guards your heart.

Tip: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:8-9)

5. A great marriage is a union of two great forgivers (statement is borrowed from Rick Warren)

Remember that your spouse is a sinner and so are you. Nobody’s perfect. We all need God’s grace and forgiveness. And this grace didn’t stop after we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We need this every day. It’s His forgiveness and grace that keep us moving. It’s His forgiveness and grace that give us a fresh start every day, a reset button, a second chance. Everyday, we are all bound to make mistakes because we are still here in this fallen world. And it is the same grace of God that gives us the power to turn away from mistakes, from the things the Bible calls sin. Now, who are we to condemn our spouse? Who are we to give up on them and say that we had enough? Who are we to not forgive and extend the same grace that we are just receiving from the Holy God? Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Tip: Be ready to forgive your spouse everyday and you shall always be at peace (Matt.18:22). And remember, there’s always grace. Grace to be a better person. Grace to forgive.

6. Men and women have different desires and needs

I learned from Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, a counselor and author of the book Love and Respect, that we, women (wives), desire mostly LOVE from our husbands. Yes? Yes! However, our husbands desperately need our RESPECT. That’s how God uniquely created man and woman. This is how we were wired. This is how we were made. We were made differently. So, wives, please don’t assume that because we love to be pampered, we love surprises, we love the things we love, that’s also the way to show love to our husbands. We show love to them when we respect them. Respect means honoring their authority. Respect means allowing them to do their role to lead us. Here’s a short story. During the first year of my boy-girl relationship with my husband now, on his birthday, I surprised him with a complete electric guitar set (you know, nice electric guitar, with all the amplifiers, tuning device and stuff…) I thought he’s going to love it because I know he likes to play a guitar or at least he used to like it and I wanted to encourage him to continue playing. I was expecting for a big, overwhelming thank you and appreciation from him but all I got was a reasonable, acceptable thank you. Eventually, I learned that giving my husband surprises doesn’t work for him. To Edward, allowing him to choose what he wants to have for a present means honoring his judgment and respecting his freedom of choice. Haha, strange? But, it’s true. So, I learned my lesson and have memorized this line already, "Honey, what do you want for Christmas?" or "What do you want for your birthday?" And there his cute little dimples flashing on his cheeks [if you personally know my husband, you know how these dimples look.] :)

Tip: Feel free to ask your spouse what are some practical ways he or she can show his/her love and respect.

7. Men and women have different languages

I’m sure you have heard about “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” Well, by concept that is true. Men and women interpret and say things differently. Let’s just say, as women, we have purple vision (I chose purple because it’s my fave color) therefore we interpret and say things in purple language. As men, they have blue vision (I chose blue because it’s my husband’s fave color) therefore they interpret and say things in blue language. So, how do we resolve this? Try to speak and communicate as literal as possible. Try to interpret things as objective as you can be.

Tip: When communicating with your spouse, try to re-state or repeat what he/she just said and request for confirmation if you get it accurately. Don’t get frustrated when you are starting to exercise this and you end up arguing. Try it with patience and love. Again, practice, practice, practice.

8. Godly mentors are gifts from God

It is sooooo helpful to have someone who will mentor you and give you godly advices. Look for trusted married couples whom you will be confident enough to share the ups and downs of your marriage/relationship. Couple whom you know wouldn’t judge you nor condemn you but will pray for you and support your marriage/relationship. Remember, it is never shameful to admit that you and your spouse do fight. It’s very normal. It is weirder if you don’t. But please accept that we all need help and accountability.

Tip: Make sure that both of you and your spouse agree with the couples/mentors of your choice. Someone who knows both of you to avoid bias and prejudice.

9. Never get used to each other. Take time to go out on a date

No matter how long you have been married or courting, or how many children you already have, it is important to share a time with your spouse alone. Keep pursuing each other. Keep exploring something new about each other. Keep knowing each other more.

Tip: Going on a date doesn’t have to be expensive. A time of movie at the comfort of your home is already a precious time with your spouse. Enjoy and have fun.

10. Never get satisfaction from your spouse alone

Sometimes when we enter marriage, we begin to have this belief that everything we need is now at hand as if he/she is all we need. But the truth is, our spouse can never fully satisfy us. Our spouses are just people like us. They are bound to make mistakes just as how we may fail them. Our spouse will also run out of something to give and is also subject of disappointing us. But the Lord is the source of everything and He can never fail us. So our full dependence is not on our spouse but on God. We should learn to find our ultimate satisfaction only from the Lord. Know that there is a longing in our hearts that only God can fill. We must put all our trust and dependence only on God who will never fail us nor forsake us. “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” (Psalm 107:9) “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

Tip: Read your Bible everyday. Set a regular time for prayer and devotion. Seek God with all your heart and soak into His unfailing presence.

11. My spouse has no power to crush me

It was probably one of the defining moments in my life when I declared and believed in myself that my spouse (or anyone in this world for that matter) has NO power to crush me. I understand very well that sometimes during heated conversation with your partner, each one of you can throw words that are piercing into one's heart and soul. Now, whether it was thrown out of anger, pain or pride, whether it was true or not, remember who you are in Christ Jesus. Your spouse's words do not define who you are. Try not to retaliate if it's offending, fight to stop the self-pity if it's hurting (since these two won't make things any better). You may think that it is easier than done. Yes. I would agree with you. I have taken that road so many times. But know that the grace of God is so powerful that it can change every mindset and belief. Remember the power of the Cross that gave you redemption and made you righteous in the sight of God the moment you believed in His saving grace. "For in Christ Jesus you are all sons (daughters) of God, through faith" (Gal. 3:26). Believe that no matter what you've done, you are God's wonderful creation. You are His workmanship (Eph. 2:10), fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14), anointed one (2 Cor. 1:21), and His most precious, royal possession (1 Pet. 2:9). Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Let God alone tell you who you are. Find your confidence in Him.

Tip: Seek God. Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Allow Him to introduce Himself to you. Pursue to know Him and you will understand that only His opinion matters most.

12. There is power in your prayer 

Changing your spouse is never your role nor your purpose in life. It is God’s. Your role is to pray for him/her. Believe that there is power in your prayer and God delights with a praying wife [or husband.] He is more than willing to answer every prayer. So whatever it is that you are hoping for, lift it up to the Lord. And when you pray, be sure to pray in faith. Now the question is, when was the last time you prayed for your spouse?

Tip: Pray!!!

(Updated 2.25.2017)

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