I have found, in talking with other young married couples (wives especially) that we're all going through similar things and trying to learn a lot of the same things. This makes perfect sense; we are, after all, at about the same point in life.
One year of marriage has taught me a lot, thanks be to God. I have so much more to learn, and I know that, so I can't claim to be an expert of any kind.
But I would like to share today some of the most important things I've learned, which are all based on the Word of God.
1) My husband needs to be respected as well as loved, and that does not come naturally to me like loving does. As a woman, I have very little difficulty loving people, especially my husband. But when it comes to respecting him, that takes work. Perhaps that's why Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
"...each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:332) I need to say more often to myself, "Hold your tongue, woman!" Before I speak, I need to think: is it respectful? Is it loving? Is it necessary? Is it timely? Is it helpful? Maybe this is just me, but I get into the most trouble by saying things out of turn, or saying something I shouldn't at all. I could fix a lot by simply being more careful about what I say, and when.
"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Proverbs 10:193) I need to keep my priorities in order. First God, then my husband, then myself. It is necessary to put his needs before my own and be selfless. Again, this doesn't come naturally, but doing this will have a very positive impact on my life and my marriage.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus..." Philippians 2:3-54) My husband and I should forgive each other--always. This is the key. This is how our marriage works. We are both sinful people, saved by grace, yes, but still sinners. Failing each other is inevitable--which is why forgiveness is such a gift of God, and so very important.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:325) Remember--the ability to love does not come from me, or from my husband. It is a gift of God. The amazing thing about marriage is that God doesn't expect us to do it on our own. He gives us the strength, will and resources--like forgiveness--to love, respect and honor our spouse. Love isn't something I produce on my own power. It comes from Him.
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:7-86) Marriage is an earthly example of the love Jesus Christ has for all who believe in him. The bottom line is, my marriage isn't about me or my husband. It's about God. Marriage is a way God blesses his people incredibly. It is one of the ways he explains to us the love he has for us. It is an image of the relationship Jesus Christ has with the church--his Bride. Marriage is another way that we, as God's children, can honor and glorify him.
"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water thorough the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church--for we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:21-33
There is so much more I could say about what I have learned about marriage in the last fourteen months, and about what marriage has taught me about myself, about what love is, and about who God is. But these things, I think, are the most important.
Linking up to these lovely ladies today, with thanks:
Upward Not Inward; New Life Steward; To Love, Honor and Vacuum; Women Living Well; Deep Roots at Home; A Wise Woman Builds Her Home