tips on Christian marriage

Recently it has occurred to me that one of my favorite writing themes is illustrating advice through past struggles, so today I thought I’d start a mini-series with the thing I’ve been learning the most recently: {what people never tell you} when it comes to marriage.

People don’t tell us things all the time because they think it’s “more beneficial to learn them on our own”.  While I do agree with this, there is an inkling in my soul that wants to push back, especially when it comes to holy matrimony.

Now don’t get me wrong, these past three months have been full of amazing, sacrificial, whole-hearted love. I would even go as far as admitting that I’ve never felt the presence of God’s heart in my life more than when Joe and I said “I do”. However, there are a few secrets I wish my friends and family would’ve let me in on before stepping into this idea of oneness. Check out my top three pieces of advice for anyone in a relationship or recently engaged below!

1.  As soon as you start planning your wedding, it becomes everything you talk about. Don’t let that happen.

One of the biggest things Joe and I noticed whenever we talked on the phone while we were engaged was the fact that our minds would almost immediately go to wedding planning. We started premarital counseling really early into our engagement so we made the decision to Skype at least once a week while I lived in Florida. We wanted to use this time to talk about God, what we were learning in the premarital books we were reading, and to simply be able to spend quality time together. Even though that happened often, we would catch ourselves rushing through some of our conversations so we could ask each other questions about some planning topics that randomly popped up during the day.

Friends, I beg of you: please do not let this happen! Because this filled our minds, it was a huge distraction when we were trying to connect on deeper emotional levels. And, if I’m being honest with y’all, sometimes it can be a struggle to talk about things even now other than the “next big step” in our marriage.

My advice? Take some time to talk about how your spiritual journey is going, how you can help one another grow, and simply how you felt as you went through your day. Process things together, even if it’s uncomfortable. Trust me, it’ll be so worth it!

2.  Make every effort to surprise your significant other by doing simple tasks they expressed eventually need to be done.

This is one of the best things I have experienced so far in my marriage! Joe has been absolutely amazing about cleaning on Mondays when he doesn’t work, and I can’t express to you enough how far something as simple as sweeping our piled-up dog hair goes in our relationship. It might be something as tiny as unloading the dishwasher, putting laundry in the washer/dryer, shaking mats out, or cleaning off the counters in the kitchen, or something larger like cleaning cars, dusting, or re-organizing a room.

So take the time to add a little something extra to your day! The chemistry and appreciation that comes from it is beyond comparison.

3.  Tell your significant other “I love you” every single time they leave.

I kind of cheated on coming up with this tip because I’m pretty sure I heard it from someone else. However, it really gives Joe and I peace of mind whenever we have to run errands, go to work, or do anything else outside the apartment. I know it might sound ridiculous and morbid, but God is in control of not only your life, but your significant other’s as well. You never know if they may or may not come home.

Just to clarify, I am not justifying living a life in a relationship where you’re paranoid all the time. What I am saying is that every moment you take to cherish one another will add to your emotional bank (key Dennis Rainey) and will continue to build into your relationship until hard times when you need each other the most. If you don’t invest now, you won’t be able to withdraw because you’ll be empty later.

In light of all this, I am reminded of a Bible verse where God instructs us to receive wise counsel:

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
~ Proverbs 11:14 (ESV)

Friends, I could not emphasize this more! As soon as Joe and I started premarital counseling and put God at the center of our relationship, our conversations and conflicts changed drastically. Since God was in control, our best bet was to receive wise advice and pray continually about our future:

“Get all the advice and instruction you can,
so you will be wise the rest of your life.
You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”
~ Proverbs 19:20-21 (NLT)

As a final piece of advice, always keep in mind that you can plan and plan all you want, but God is ultimately our story-writer. When you wrap your head around that and live off it, you’ll quickly see relationship stress starting to melt away.

In abundance of counselors there is victory (Proverbs 24:6). Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor and we have victory in Him! No matter what people say, know He’s got you.

You are loved, you are cherished, and you are saved by grace. And that, friends, is all you’ll ever need.