Thursday, January 29, 2015

10 Things to Know Before Tying the Knot

My husband and I said "I do" one year, six months, & nine days ago. By the grace of God (and my husband's awesomeness), I grow more and more in love with him everyday. I'm so thankful to God for giving me this lifelong opportunity to adventure, learn, & grow more in love with God and with the man that God gave me to help and encourage. Together, we are growing together, experiencing abundant life, & creating a legacy.
My husband and I met and were engaged within four months and married five months after that. Needless to say, we didn't experience much hardship within those short nine months before tying the knot. We were blissfully in love and while we both knew that God's hand created our futures to be together as husband and wife, there are just some things you won't learn until after you are married.  Maybe you're in a serious relationship, engaged, or a wife. I want to share some of those things with you that I personally think are wise to know or think about before tying the knot!  
It's so much more than a wedding day
We plan out our wedding our entire lives as girls. We hear it all the time that the wedding is just a day and the marriage is forever but we never really understand it until after that short and sweet wedding day has come and gone. Those flowers you're stressing about? They'll be wilting halfway through the ceremony. That shade of pink you can't seem to get just right? No one will notice. You're going to be taking your shoes off to dance anyway so why spend your month's allowance on them? Yes, it's your "big day" but what you should be putting all of your energy and effort into is in getting to know the man who you're about to pledge your life to!
Go to the doctor now
Yes, that dreaded doctor visit. I really wish someone would of told me to go to the gynecologist before getting married. It would of saved me a ton of stress, disappointment, & heartache. Whether you plan on having kids right off the bat or not, schedule a check-up before tying the knot to make sure that everything is in working order. I don't say this to scare you but I know from experience, you really never know.
Decide now to be willing to forgive any & every offense
"Your husband is going to mess up. You are going to mess up." If someone would of told me that while we were engaged, I would have laughed. Y'all, I was that high on cloud nine. And I know I wasn't the only one! Things are going to come up after you settle into your apartment or home together that never arose until you are married and living together. That's the beauty of it. But there are going to be days when he does everything in the world to make you mad and you forget to do things that are vital to him. It's going to be okay. Learn now to forgive AND FORGET... each little and big offense. Because they will come and when they do, YOU yourself will have a choice. Choose forgiveness because Jesus forgave the sin in you.    
Learn who he is & be content with it
Be intentional about learning him.. what he likes to do, what he doesn't like to do, what makes him laugh, his hobbies & favorite things. Learn those things and do them with him! After you learn him, don't try to change him. If you are fixated on changing him, why do you want to marry him? You cannot change anyone but yourself and sometimes even that is impossible. If there are things that you wish would change, go to him and talk them out. Honestly, it's better to talk about them than to hold them inside of you and think that you can change them after the wedding day. It will end in bitterness and resentment. Bitterness has no place in a thriving marriage. Also, you are not his Holy Spirit. Stop trying to convict him & judge him. Leave those things up to God. PRAY FOR HIM! Only God can change hearts and lives so put your trust in the one true God alone, not yourself.
Communication is key
The C word. Oh, how I struggled (and still do) with communicating. Some women have no problem communicating their feelings & heart to their husbands while some find it impossible. I'm definitely part of the latter group. Confrontation of any kind, good or bad, has always made me uneasy because I'm the type of person who wants everything to be good all the time and when it's not, I shut down because I don't know how to react. But guess what? Communication is so vital to every marriage. If you can't communicate what is going on in your life, heart, and mind, how will he know? He isn't a mind reader. It may hurt. It may take weeks, months, years to figure out but never stop communicating even when you stink at it. Even if you have to sit and think about how to say something for ten minutes. Something that our pastor mentioned last week in a sermon stuck out to me... If you're having a "heated conversation" or any ole conversation for that matter and you hear something that makes you feel hurt, tell your husband "this is what I heard...... is that what you meant?....". That will give your spouse the opportunity to explain what he really meant when he said something that upset you. Never stop talking to each other!
Get right with God
God created marriage. God created marriage for what? For His glory. If you don't have a relationship with God, I so encourage you to seek Him. I couldn't even imagine being married and not knowing Jesus. He has gotten us through the darkest of times, together and individually. It's then and only then that you will find the true purpose of marriage which is to glorify God and be an example of the unified oneness between Christ and His Bride, the church.
 Something that I struggled with a lot at the beginning of our marriage is how to put God & my relationship with God above my husband and my marriage. If I make my marriage more important than my relationship with God then that means I am relying on myself to keep our marriage going strong and that will only end in hurt. We can't do it alone. We need God.
 Also, when we elevate our marriage above our relationship with God, we are making our husband an idol in our life. We start to depend on our husband to fulfill us in every way and give us purpose which is something only God can do.  It takes daily prayer and intentional time with God to find that balance but with His help, He will make it happen.
Always, always be striving for unity
I never realized how important unity in marriage is. I guess I just figured it would happen on its own but I was so wrong! Keeping unity between you and your husband means so many things. From keeping your eyes only for him to keeping your mouth shut from gossip. It's not okay to flirt with or drool over other men (even if those men are on a TV screen or in a book!)  Never ever talk to another man about your marriage problems. Don't even talk about your husband to another man unless you're bragging on him! I would even go as far as to say that it's wise to restrain from bad-mouthing your husband to anyone at all, even your mom or your closest girlfriend. Of course your husband has faults but no one should learn about them from you. How would you feel if you heard him complaining to his buddy about the way you do something? Those things only create disunity. Go to God and to your husband with those issues. Yes, seek wise and godly counsel but do it together or at least openly. Never go behind your husband's back unless your planning him a surprise party. Disunity is something you will never find in Jesus and if we are the example of Jesus then we should always be seeking to be united with our husbands in every aspect. 
 If you are unsure about something, ask yourself "Does this bring my husband and I closer together?" If the answer is no, run far away!!
Be prepared to get over yourself
If there is one thing that I have learned over the past year and a half it is that marriage requires selflessness. Marriage isn't about me and it isn't about you. Jesus calls us to pick up our cross daily and follow Him. Picking up your cross means you're walking in such a way that is obedient to God and you have no say over your life. You don't even put into account your own desires, wants, or wishes. There will be times when he wants chicken for dinner and you want fish. Get over yourself. The laundry needs folding but you want to watch one last episode. Get over yourself. You want that new purse at Target but it just isn't in the budget. Get over yourself. If you want to yell at him for doing something that ticked you off, get over yourself. It should be your joy to choose your husband over yourself and if it isn't, I encourage you to sit and think of why you want to get married. Marriage has brought me so much joy and happiness and fulfillment but that only comes with learning to say "no" to self and "yes" to loving and serving my husband.
Respect goes both ways in marriage
When we respect our husband, we are loving him in the way God intends and your husband needs. When we both respect each other's love languages and needs and commit to carrying those out, we live in harmony. Submission to our husbands is required of us as God-glorifying wives but it should be our pleasure! It may be hard at times to say "no" to ourselves but it glorifies God and tells our husbands, "I love you, I support you, & I'm on your side." Don't get too busy to live that out & tell your husband that!
Marriage should be hotter & more fun than your dating relationship
 It's no secret that culture has turned marriage into this boring thing that adults do when they want to settle down and have kids. That's just plain wrong. God created marriage to be so much more than what the world thinks it is. It's so much more than a tax write off or a reason to have kids. God created marriage to be a beautiful masterpiece painting of Him and His loving Bride, the church. (That's us, Christians!) Marriage gives more satisfaction than a one-night stand, it has more purpose than just living together, and it should be more fun and enjoyable than any puppy-love dating relationship. You should never stop dating your spouse. Never stop going on adventures together. Don't let the work schedule get in the way of that fire between you two. Keep seeing the world, keep kissing in the dark, keep flirting, keep laughing. You don't have to stop. Prove this world wrong. God created marriage to be enjoyed to the fullest!! God created sex to be enjoyed and experienced in marriage alone & when it is, it's so much more purposeful than this world could even dream of.
If you aren't engaged yet, commit to purity because each time you compromise, you're giving a piece of your heart away and when you find yourself at your wedding night with nothing but a ripped up tiny piece of your heart left, you're going to wish you stopped at handholding.  Save yourself the heartache. That moment of pleasure isn't worth it.
If you are engaged, stop messing around with your husband-to-be. If you haven't said "I do"  in front of God and man, then you are not married. You have no place committing your body to someone who you're not committed to with your life. It isn't too late to stop! He will respect you and if he doesn't, I encourage you to seek wise counsel because he doesn't sound like someone you should be marrying (in my opinion).  You're going to find so much joy and contentment in waiting, sweet friend!
If you feel like that flame has went out in your marriage, plan a weekend getaway without technology to spend with your beloved or get a babysitter and spend the night alone together. Never stop pursuing passion with one another!
Above all, remember that God is gracious. He is so loving and forgiving and gracious. Even if you have compromised one too many times, you aren't any less of a wife. You are whole and pure and loved in God's eyes. Believe it & live it, girlfriend!
I am still learning from God everyday & am still teaching these things to myself everyday. Not every day is going to be picture perfect but everyday is definitely an opportunity to grow.. closer to God and closer to your husband!  I am so thankful to have such a loving, forgiving, gracious, funny, amazing & sweet husband. I believe we have a great marriage because God has blessed us and is just an amazing God. Trust in Him & watch Him do amazing things!
What things do you wish you knew before you tied the knot? If you aren't married yet, did any of these stand out to you?  I would love to hear!

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