Monday, December 2, 2013

Wife 101: Newlywed Advice I Should Have Listened to.

I hope that everyone had a relaxing Thanksgiving break full of delicious food!  I have gotten requests from a few readers about tackling the marriage issue.  Honestly, I have skirted around the marriage thing because I am still learning so much.  After being married for 3.5 years, I honestly feel like I have just now scratched the surface of navigating the marriage waters successfully.  While I have become no expert by any stretch of the imagination, I have found myself having those moments where I am kicking myself in the rear wishing that I would have listened to more seasoned couples’ advice on some things.  In this post, I have chosen six pieces of advice that I received as a newlywed that, in hindsight, I should have taken from the start.  Whether you are married now or have a desire to be married in the future, I think that this post can help you avoid some common mistakes!

Seek help/advice as a couple, but not from your loved ones.

One of the most common pieces of advice that newlyweds hear is the good old-fashioned “keep your business in your marriage.”  The idea behind this is genuine and Godly – you want to make sure that your interactions with people outside of your marriage build your spouse up as opposed to tearing him down.  The problem is that this advice is missing a very important factor: when you need help working through problems, it is imperative that you seek help from an unbiased party.  I strongly suggest that you seek help from a spiritual leader in your church or a counseling professional with a faith-based practice.  I’m not against using a therapist who is not Christian-based, but when you are trying to make God the foundation for your marriage it is so helpful to have someone counsel you who has that same goal.

I’m sure that many of you have a lingering question: why shouldn't I seek advice from my loved ones?  This can be a hard habit to form especially if you come from a family who is as loving and supportive as mine.  Unless you are being abused, I have learned from experience after being warned by seasoned couples and counselors that it is best that you seek professional and/or spiritual help as opposed to confiding in your loved ones.  The reason is simple: your loved ones often turn into elephants who never forget the offense once you have told them, even after you are over it.  If that is not reason enough, then the fact that you are putting someone you love in the awkward position of helping you navigate through conflict with your husband should be.

Saying I love you means nothing if your actions don’t say I respect you.

As women, we are usually the hopeless romantics of the relationship.  Of course there are exceptions to this, but I can say with confidence that when God created women he gave us a complicated emotional DNA that even we can’t fathom at times.  We love to love, be loved, and even love watching other people fall in love.  We all hope that one day a man will fall in love with us in such a way that will make us “weak in the knees.”  Naturally, we often give love in the way that we want it returned, but is that the way that men want to receive it?

My husband and I recently attended the marriage conference, and one of the activities that we did asked us to identify our core fears.  These are those internal fears that hurt us the most, thus causing us to become irate and speak and/or act in certain ways that hurt our spouse.  Pretty much every fear that men had boiled down to one thing: they absolutely need respect in order to function properly in a relationship.  If you tell your husband that you love him every single day, it means nothing if you don’t value his opinion and allow him to be the head of your household that he was designed to be.  Furthermore, you have to be very careful of the way that you talk to your husband – belittling, lecturing, and scolding are sure ways to instantly cause him to feel disrespected!

Make time for the two of you to be alone.

This should be an obvious one, but sometimes life can get so busy that you and your spouse find yourselves having brief meetings at night before dozing off to sleep.  (If you are as prone to falling asleep at the drop of a hat like I am, then “meeting” might be an overstatement.) By the time you have children, it becomes even more difficult to take a break from everyone and everything else to focus on just each other.  The key here is to do what makes you all feel comfortable both physically and financially.  If you love getting all dolled up and going out, then go for it.  If your budget only allows for you to send the kids to grandma’s and have a movie night on the couch, then make the most of it!  I can tell you one thing: no matter what we might be going through, I have never regretted having alone time with my husband.  Having time to ourselves has always brought us closer.

Sex is a responsibility, not a privilege.

Okay ladies; let me start this one with a scripture:1 Corinthians 7:4-5 “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command.

There it is just as plain as day!  Sex is not a privilege that you can give and take depending upon your mood, his actions, or how much he has annoyed you that day.  Once you sign that marriage certificate, you are also signing that this man is your one and only sexual partner for life, thus it is your responsibility to do what God created you to do.  Just remember that when God commands us to do something in his word, he absolutely expects obedience.  If you, like so many women, get so tangled up in the web of your life that sex becomes a non-priority, pray and ask God to renew your mind.  I would also like to add that sometimes you can carry invisible baggage from previous partners into a marriage, and that can hinder your sex life.  Ask God to reveal and remove any and all baggage!

Self-care is crucial to a good marriage.

Again, I am borrowing from the marriage seminar that my husband and I attended.  (It was just that awesome!)  This was a revelation for me that almost brought me to tears.  As women, we are often raised to give to our families tirelessly and without ceasing.  We are often taught, whether verbally or subliminally, that your family’s emotional, nutritional, health, and other needs must be met before you dare take a moment to breathe and maintain yourself.  This is a mindset that will eventually leave you on empty most days, and after a while can affect your mental state.  Yes, it is our job to be the Proverbs 31 woman, but how can a dry well yield water?  You absolutely cannot be all that your family needs you to be if you don’t take time to care for yourself spiritually and physically.  You must make time to rest, be alone with God, and take care of your physical body.  (I SO need to practice what I preach here!)

Alright a ladies, that’s what I have to offer on the marriage tip!  I hope it blesses a wife or wife-in-training somewhere.  I’m still learning daily, so I will revisit this topic as the father reveals more to me.  Stay blessed!

Food for thought:

Ephesians 5:22 - Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

1 Peter 3:1 - Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives

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