I love marriage. Marriage is beautiful. Being married to my husband is a huge blessing and I am so thankful for him. But being married is also hard. It causes grey hairs, stupid frustrations, and childish behavior.
Being married is a great thing, but it takes a lot of work. It takes a willingness to be Christlike, and a dedication to overcoming trials and our own selfishness. That doesn't mean that we should throw in the towel if it seems a little overwhelming. No, it means that we have to put on our big girl panties and suck it up.
Being married may be challenging, but it also has the potential to be one of the most beautiful things in existence, this side of Heaven. But to get to that point- to cultivate such a beautiful marriage, there are a few key elements that are absolutely necessary for success.
Talk it outWhen people give out marriage advice, you will almost always hear "don't go to bed angry". It's cliche, but it's so true. When something's wrong, I fully believe in talking it out. For me, I want it to happen immediately after the conflict. I know that this wouldn't work for everyone. Some people need to walk off and cool down first, to avoid saying something terrible, or to process their thoughts. That's fine if that's what's best, but I still believe that the conflict needs to be resolved quickly. So unless you can't cool down before bedtime, talk it out before going to bed. Get it resolved.
Why It Matters:
When we leave things to fester, we tend to blow things out of proportion and start thinking more and more negatively. Something small could easily become tragic in our minds if we just keep sitting on the problem instead of getting it out in the open. It may not be pleasant to deal with the issue, but nine times out of 10, doing so will be a lot more healthy and beneficial in the long-run.
I'm not good at compromise. I want what I want, when I want it. But marriage absolutely requires compromise- and lots of it! In marriage, putting your spouse above yourself is necessary. So what if I don't want to watch that cheesy, slap-stick comedy? My husband loves it. Would it kill me to compromise?
Compromise (on the big and small stuff)
But there are much more important things we have to compromise on too. Sometimes, we have to make big changes so that our spouses can pursue their dreams and goals. Sometimes this means being the main provider while my husband goes to school. Sometimes it may require a big cross-country move. Sometimes it will mean putting your own dreams on hold. It's not an easy thing to do sometimes, but God never promised that marriage would be easy.
Why It Matters
Compromise matters because it teaches us to let go of our selfishness. Jesus wasn't selfish at all. Ever. That should be our aim too. And more than any other human, our spouse deserves our selflessness.
Respect Each OtherRespect is such a general word. We can say we respect a person, but what does that really mean? Respecting someone means that you cherishing and admiring someone for their abilities and character. It also means keeping that admiration and treating people well, even if they make a mistake or don't see eye-to-eye with them.
Why It Matters
Respect matters because God directly commands it of wives (1 Peter 3:1). On a practical level though, respect is the way most husbands feel loved. When a wife admires her husband, he feels needed and loved. God knew that when He told us to respect our husbands.
Be Aware of InsecuritiesIn my marriage, I am the one with most of the insecurities. My husband is calm, laid-back, and level-headed. But he still has insecurities that make themselves known every now and then. But even though I know they exist, I often allow myself to believe that I am the only one who struggles with insecurity. I wait for my husband to give me verbal affirmation, forgetting that he may need some himself.
Give your spouse affirmation, even when they don't act like they need it. Let them know the ways they attract you and are admirable to you.
Why It Matters
Making ourselves aware of the insecurities of our spouse is important because we should be their prime cheerleader. If they can't count on us to cheer them on and build them up, then who can they count on? Don't feed the insecurities of your spouse. Instead, puff out those insecurities through encouragement and sincere compliments.
A Few More ThoughtsIf you find yourself thinking that this won't be easy, you're right. Marriage isn't easy. But you know what else marriage is? Rewarding. A treasure. Worth it.
Just because you aren't good at something right now, doesn't mean you can't get there. Just because you aren't practicing these tips well right now, doesn't mean that you are incapable. Ask God for help. Talk to your spouse about how you both could improve. And seek a trusted friend or mentor if you feel you need some extra accountability. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that if something is tough, you won't succeed. That's a lie. Don't buy it!