PART 2 Christian Marriage Advice
We are celebrating our 26th Anniversary! After lots of bumps through the years, here’s our best tips on how to have a great marriage with this Christian marriage advice! I’m not saying we are experts by any stretch of the imagination, but 2 1/2 decades of being together teaches you a LOT about love – what to do and what not to do. Through these two posts, I hope to share some of the knowledge we’ve gained over the years to help keep you out of some of the pitfalls and traps we found ourselves in! So read along! And I’d love to hear YOUR advice in the comments!
Tip #6 – Be humble – Humility is one of the biggest parts of Christian marriage advice
Everyone struggles in different areas
You have to have a proper view of yourself in order to see your spouse accurately. It’s unlikely that your struggles are the same as your spouse’s struggles. With that being said, it’s often really difficult to look at an area of sin in your spouse without judgement. You can’t imagine WHY they are tempted in that way. This is where Christian marriage advice comes in instead of a secular perspective.
Matthew 7:3-5 says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
So this is where humility comes in. LOOK AT YOURSELF! Look at where God has forgiven you. See where you’ve sinned over and over again and God had forgiven you over and over again. Have a proper view of yourself – not self deprecating and not self righteous. A proper view of you lets you to see your spouse more objectively. It allows you to remove the “I’m better than you” attitude we all struggle with. So be humble and look inward before you look outward.
Tip #7 – This one is just fun – Get professional pictures taken!
I know lots of young couples and see their unbelievable engagement and wedding photos. They are beautiful! But you know what? I treasure the pictures of us with grey hair and wrinkles infinitely more. I think it’s because I know THAT man has actually seen the real, unfiltered me over the course of decades. Even with all that, he has chosen to keep loving me anyway. He knows my very worst and brings out my very best. So why should only young, beautiful people get photos?!
Tip #8 – Water your grass – it doesn’t really sound like Christian marriage advice, but it is!
I chose the crappiest pictures of us I could find to help you visualize this focus. You will go through really crappy seasons in your marriage. In a crazy twist, our really crappy season did not correspond with this super unfortunate-looking time period!
The worst time in our marriage was about 14 years ago. It was awful and scary. There was great Christian marriage advice from trusted friends, formal counseling and lots of work. It’s hard, hard conversations and massive amounts of growth in our individual relationships with the Lord. There was diving into the Word of God like never before and praying and journaling. The verse I clung to at that time was Psalm 27:13-14: I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
The grass is not greener…
I believed back then that the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence. Regardless of what you see on social media, every single marriage goes through cycles of struggle over the years. You are not alone. Most times, your own grass needs work. It needs weeding and edging and fertilizing and aerating and watering and back breaking labor. But IT IS WORTH IT. So roll up your sleeves and hit your knees and eventually the crappy season gives way to beauty and joy.
Tip #9 – (this one is also for wives!) Be your husband’s biggest cheerleader
When you and your hubby were first together, I bet you defended him if anyone said negative things about him. I bet you thought he was amazing. You didn’t criticize him and think your way was right all the time. I bet you gave him the benefit of the doubt.
How men view our actions
The crazy thing is that men feel most loved when they are respected. That means they feel unloved when they are disrespected. When Ryan is frustrated with me, it’s often because he felt like I disrespected him. While he probably wouldn’t articulate it that way, he would say that he felt:
*undermined when I corrected him in front of our kids
*embarrassed when I teased him about something in front of other people
*like I didn’t believe in him because I shut him down instead of dreaming with him when he brought up a new business idea
*judged when I nagged him about what he wasn’t doing instead of encouraging him in the things he WAS doing
A verse that sticks out to me is Proverbs 27:15-16. A nagging wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm. Stopping her is like trying to stop the wind. It’s like trying to grab olive oil with your hand.
How to be his cheerleader
There are so many facets that show your hubby respect and make him feel like you’re cheering him on –
*trusting your husband to care for the kids even if it’s not the way you do it
*being cautious not to badmouth him to your friends or on social media
There are so many ways and I’m sure I couldn’t possibly touch on them all. The amazing thing is that God knows YOUR husband’s heart. If you ask God to show you where you can be his biggest cheerleader, and ask Him to reveal where you may be disrespecting him unintentionally, He will show you. God designed our husbands to crave their wife’s respect and admiration. So again, Christian marriage advice says what you won’t hear elsewhere.
So take it to the Lord. Then, remember who you were in the beginning, because THAT is who he fell in love with ❤️
Tip #10 – The BEST Christian marriage advice – You are responsible to God for your actions.
I saved this one for last because it absolutely transformed my marriage. We were about 6 years in when I attended a conference that changed my life. By this time, I had experienced plenty of opportunities in my marriage to be frustrated and hold grudges and harbor bitterness. The table was set.
The thing that transformed my perspective
Long before Emerson Eggerichs wrote Love and Respect, he held conferences. As part of my degree completion, I attended a few marriage conferences and then earned credit by writing life learning papers on how I translated that information into my own marriage.
On the last day of the conference, Eggerichs illustrated something and it rocked my world. He said that when I die and stand before God, I will be alone. My husband will not be there for me to shift the blame onto him. So when God asks me about my actions, I don’t get to justify them by saying “he hurt me first” or “he hurt me worse”. My actions are mine and I’m responsible for them. *mind blown* I don’t know why this had NEVER occurred to me, but it was like God dropped a bomb on my perspective.
He went on to say that when your spouse hurts you or picks a fight and you choose to act in a way that honors God, and you move toward your spouse instead of away from them, picture God over their shoulder giving you a thumbs up! While you promised forever to your spouse, if you’re a believer in Christ, you ACTUALLY made that promise to the Lord!
What the culture says
We live in a culture that tells you that if your spouse hurts you, they deserve for you to treat them like crap. Karma, baby! Honestly, I fight with this thought all the time. When I’m hurt, my inclination is to hurt Ryan back. When He isn’t acting loving toward me, it’s hard to try to look for things to respect about him because all I see is the negative.
Christian marriage advice means we care about what God says
God tells us a different story and that’s why we look to receive Christian marriage advice instead of what the world tells us. God tells us that He is using difficult circumstances that feel like sandpaper to wear down the rough edges. That is what makes us look like Jesus. He uses our marriage to shape us and sanctify us.
So much of that starts when we realize that WE are responsible for our actions and attitudes toward our spouse. If your spouse sins against you, do not let it turn into sin in you!
The benefits of believing what God says
The most beautiful earthly benefit is that when we make choices that move us toward our spouse – like loving your wife deeply when you don’t feel respected, or respecting and honoring your husband when you don’t feel loved – it absolutely changes their reactions toward you! It keeps a promise you made to them and to God. AND it actually brings about the desired result!
The crazy thing is that God uses our closest relationships to sanctify us. My kids study Latin, and when I learned that “sanctus” means holy, it helped me realize that sanctification means making us holy. That holiness or sanctification is a process and it means over and over again, we choose God’s way over our way. It transforms our relationship with God and also has the same effect on our relationships here on earth!