“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” – Proverbs 14:1
My first year of marriage was, well, almost my last year of marriage. I was young (22), a tad immature (okay, spoiled) and hadn’t yet gained a great deal of real world experience (make that, none). After being certain of my decision to walk down the aisle, I hadn’t a clue how to walk as a wife.
I spent those early days struggling to learn a new career as a first-year teacher and most nights alone as my young police officer husband worked the graveyard shift. New city, new job. No nearby family or close friends. Not to mention regular grown-up stuff like cooking, cleaning, laundry and bills. Welcome to a crash course on the real world.
Good thing I married a great guy– a godly man who waited for me to get the hang of this whole husband and wife thing. Who walked through a difficult season with me. Who knew, before I did, that I’d eventually get there.
To be honest, we are both still getting there. Relationships are never a finished work, are they. But twenty-five years, three grown kids, lots of ups and downs, and one fulfilling marriage later, I’ve learned a bit more about what to do, and more importantly..
.. what NOT to do, after saying I do.
Do not rely on your feelings.
In the last quarter of a century, many times I’ve felt like being helpful and nice and patient with my spouse, and many times I haven’t. We don’t give to our husbands because our emotions guide us or feelings compel us; we do it because God has called us to the ministry of marriage. Each time we help, love, build up or encourage one another we are serving the Lord.
Honor Christ by submitting to each other. – Ephesians 5:21
Do not take things too seriously.
As most things in life, marriage should be met with a heavy dose of levity. With time, seasons pass. We will learn. We will grow. If we’re quick to laugh at our mistakes, and those of our mates, grace usually follows immediately. Simply put, when you try a new recipe, and the fish turns out mushier than the mashed potatoes, have a good laugh and head to Taco Bell.
To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose. – Ecclesiastes 3:1
Do not wait for things to be perfect in order to be happy.
You’ll be waiting forever. Recognize that growth is the goal, not perfection. Expect flawed emotions, reactions and words from one another. Accept each other as sinners that need a Savior. Then be ready to forgive. Striving to be a faultless mate only leads to frustration; accepting faults and giving grace is the key making it last.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
Do not be stubborn.
Say sorry. Let it go. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Even when you think you’re right. Even when you know you’re right. Decide that having a respectful marriage is more important than needing your way every time on every issue. Cultivate a relationship of mutual honor and real listening. Remember that most of the time, digging our heels in just gives us dirty shoes.
Whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble. – Proverbs 28:14
Do not stop believing in the power of God.
While I believe it’s true that people don’t change, I am also convinced that God can change people. If there are things you wish were different and you have come to realize that pushing doesn’t do a darn thing, pray and ask the Lord to go to work. Bonus: in the process of praying for your husband, He works on our hearts, too.
One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: Power belongs to you, God. – Psalm 62:11
Hand in hand we said our vows many years ago. Hand in hand we continue to walk, and it’s been worth every step.
♡ Kathryn O’Brien is an award-winning author and writes for Proverbs 31 Woman. You can follow her writing at her website.
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