By Shelli Mader, Contributing Writer
My husband and I have been married for 10 years this month – a milestone definitely worth celebrating and reflecting on. This past decade has been a year of big ups (the births of our two kids) and downs (6 moves, debt, depression). Through it all though, my husband and I have stuck together and God has grown our character in ways that I ever dreamed possible. I’m happy to say that I am a much wiser wife than I was 10 years ago. These are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned.
Important Lessons in Marriage
Don’t Let Your Spouse Become an Idol
Like a lot of women, I started dreaming about getting married when I was in elementary school. I just knew that a good husband would fulfill all my needs and make my life complete and happy. No more insecurity for me! Obviously, my high, unrealistic expectations set my husband up for failure even before we got the marriage started.
No person can meet all your needs. Spouses will let you down. God designed life that way so that we will seek Him to meet our deepest emotional needs. Exodus 20:3 tells us to have no other gods (idols) before the one God of the Bible. Trying to find fulfillment in anything or anyone other than God sets you up for failure.
Get on a Budget
My husband and I both came into our marriage without any money management training and we have paid dearly (financially and emotionally) for our ignorance. Proverbs 22:7 is SO true. The borrower is servant to the lender. Make sure that you are on the same financial page as your spouse. Make a budget together, or at least review finances together often if one spouse is in charge of them. Finances have to be a joint effort.
Don’t Let Your Guard Down
When I got married I not only had unrealistic expectations of my spouse, but I also had unrealistic expectations of marriage. My husband and I were both strong Christians when we got married, we read the Bible together, prayed together and served God together. I knew life wouldn’t always be easy, but I thought our marriage would always be easy – after all, we were committed Christians. Boy, was I wrong. Satan hates marriage – especially Christian marriage. Satan wants to drive us away from our spouse.
1 Peter 5:8 commands us to stay alert because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Pray about your marriage and do you all that you can to protect this important relationship. Jerry Jenkins wrote a book called Hedges that encourages spouses to make a plan to keep away from potential marriage damaging situations. Stormie Omartian has written numerous books about praying for your marriage and spouse. They are easy to read and have lots of great ideas about specific things to pray for. Ultimately, the Bible is the greatest resource to read through and find ways to keep your marriage Christ centered.
Stay Focused on God
One of my favorite books about marriage right now is Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. The whole premise of the book is the idea that God made marriage to make us holy more than he did to make us happy. I know some of the most uncomfortable times I have had with my spouse are when my selfishness, pride, anger or other sinful behavior is on display. We can hide our bad side from most people – even good friends, but when we live with someone, they can’t help but see us at our very worst. Thomas says God uses marriage to develop our Christ-likeness. It is true. Marriage has revealed ugly things in me – things in my character that I didn’t know were a problem.
Don’t Give up Hope
Gary Thomas says that when two people who “stumble in many ways” (James 3:2) get together and marry there is bound to be problems. Marriage can be hard. I have been there. But marriage can also be amazing and beautiful. God designed marriage so you know that He is all for it. These past 10 years have taught me that I can boldly pray big prayers for my marriage.
1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” Marriage is according to God’s will. Believe that He will hear your prayers.