One thing I enjoy most about writing Marriage Memo is the interaction I have with you, the reader. I’m always encouraged by the feedback I receive, and am often pleasantly surprised by the depth of writing when I ask for your ideas on different topics.
This was my experience again after my recent column on “Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Was Married.” After I asked for your input on what you wish you’d known before marriage, we received a number of great ideas and some very thoughtful letters. For example, one woman wrote:
As little girls we are conditioned on the idea of a fairy tale life: “…and they lived happily ever after.” I think too many times those little girls grow up expecting the fairy tale they heard so much about when they were little. When reality hits and they realize life (marriage) is not really the fairy tale they thought it would be. They think that something went wrong and they made a mistake: ‘Maybe I didn’t really marry Prince Charming after all. Maybe I married the wrong person.’ So the marriage ends in divorce and she sets out to once again look for the Prince Charming who is supposed to make all her dreams come true.
Marriage is work! Marriage is compromise and sacrifice. It can end in happily ever after, but not without a lot of heartache and tears in between.
Here are some other highlights from the advice readers sent me:
- “Always put your relationship with the Lord first and foremost!”
- “You can’t change your spouse, only God can.”
- “Sometimes you will have a tough time with in-laws and understanding them, but forgiveness and understanding is key.”
- “Because it’s not always so obvious, it might bear mentioning: even in the most loving marriage—and obviously in trying marriages—marriage is hard. It takes work. It takes effort on the part of each individual involved. Especially when kids and life come along and get in the way—it’s very easy to slip into ‘partners in the business of life’ mode.”
- “Your spouse has secrets that you don’t know about. My hard reality was that I didn’t get to start knowing my husband until after we were married.”
- “Marriage is more about our one-on-one relationship with Christ than our one-on-one relationship with our spouse.”
- “Marriage is not about being ‘in love.’ It is about working together with a partner for the rest of your lives, in good times and in bad, regardless of how you feel.”
- “Always remember that your spouse is human, too, and prone to the same faults and failures you are. We all make mistakes and we can all learn to forgive.”
- “Bless each other daily. It may be as simple as pouring a cup of coffee for him/her, making a breakfast when they don’t have time, or giving him/her a big hug/kiss when they come home from a hard day, but bless each other in both big and small ways every day.”
- “Marriage is a full time job ... it must be always tended like a fire in the fireplace so that it will keep burning well.”
- “It is very important to always lift up your spouse in every way. To know that a true relationship means that you will always support your spouse and be there for them when tough times roll around. Because they do.”
- “I wish I had known how to resolve conflict without saying the wrong things or hitting below the belt.”
- “I wish I had known how to forgive generously and quickly.”
- “Keep priorities in this order: God first, my spouse second and then the kids.”
- “Forget perfect.”
- “Say I love you to each other every day.”
- “Time together needs to be treated as sacred time. It should come second to only God and that all others (including family) take third place. When we look back at the past five years of our marriage, what comes to mind are the happy times we have spent just the two of us, focused on each other.”
- “There will be times during your marriage that you can and will be so discouraged, or so angry, or so heartbroken that all you want to do is give up. Don’t. Surrender yourself and your marriage completely to Jesus.”
And finally …
Stick with your mate even when you don’t want to, and even when your ‘friends’ tell you that you should leave or you ‘have a right to leave.’ … If you’re courageous enough to stick it out—and I promise you that you will be in Christ, who will strengthen your every thought and step, you will find your reward on the other side of the discouragement and pain. What waits for you is a bond made stronger through adversity, a love made sweeter by your unwavering commitment and your sincerest efforts to make your marriage work, and an added bonus of a completely different perspective about yourself. You’ll find that it really isn’t about you at all. Instead of praying, ‘Lord, please change my spouse,’ you’ll find yourself praying, ‘Lord, please change me.’
You can read all the comments from Marriage Memo readers by clicking here.
© 2009 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.