Under-Qualified Marriage Advice

I don’t feel qualified to give marriage advice. However, when the going gets tough, I’m too far away to run to grandma’s house, so I run to Jesus instead and He reminds me of some really great advice I’ve collected over the years.

Forgive your husband for not being perfect. Thank God my husband loves me in spite of my glaring imperfections. Why in the world do I sometimes expect him to be so perfect? Just do it (and don’t forget to do it again tomorrow).

Date night. Do it. Figure out a way to make it a priority. It is worth it. I promise. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to celebrate the big days. At some point it’s tempting to stop making a big deal over this relationship because we lack time, resources and energy. We can easily stop reminiscing about the good times and stop making more good times. Before we know it, we’re no longer excited about “us”. Yikes! So, make space for the anniversary date and keep baking his favorite birthday cake even though you’re sick of that recipe by now (and have fun sorting out what it looks like in your new country).

What you’re doing is hard. And keeping up with your marriage in the midst of it all is harder. Marriage is hard anywhere. However, marriage outside of your home culture is even harder (especially in the first year or so). On top of managing a new job, new culture, new surroundings, new friends, new way of life, new vegetables, new everything, you also get to deal with the way your husband is dealing with it all. And, he’s trying even harder to be graceful as he puts up with the way YOU are coping. Give each other a break. So many times we’ve found ourselves in an argument and finally got to the point of looking at each other and saying “What are we even saying?? Let’s forget this conversation ever happened and get on with our adventure.”

Best news ever…you get to bring your best friend along! As hard as we have it at times, I’ve always wondered if I’d be able to hack it as a single. They’ve got it harder. They say goodbye to EVERYONE at the airport. Me? I get to bring my best friend along!!! Don’t forget that. Keep up the friendship because it’s invaluable. Your hubby is the only one who really knows what you’re dealing with. He’s the only one who really knows how big that cock roach really was and how you screamed like a little girl when you found it. Inside jokes are lasting treasure. Hold on to them and be thankful of the way they link you to your husband.

You can only grow closer to your husband as you both grow closer to Jesus. You can think you’re growing closer to your husband, but actually be on completely different planes and miss each other. If you’re both growing toward the central point of Jesus (if he’s the tippy top of a pyramid and you’re anywhere else in the pyramid, if you’re growing closer to him and your husband is, too, you’ll also be growing closer together). If you’re both on a line, but on different planes, you will pass each other and grow apart at some point. I know that may be too much Geometry for some people, but I find it fascinating!

Conflict is the price of deepening intimacy. If I can keep this in mind in the midst of a disagreement (or heated battle) it will result in a better relationship. Hashing out our differences and fixing this glitch and troubleshooting the problem and sorting out the issues is like fertilizer, if you will. Throw some manure in the garden and you actually get better flowers!

Pray for your husband! Neglecting this is hurting your whole family. We’ve heard “happy wife, happy life.” Well, happy wife starts with prayerful wife on her knees for her husband. I’m not saying I always do great at this one, but every time I prioritize praying for my husband, I’m blessed in the process and by the results! Not in that “he’s doing everything wrong, God, so please set him right” kind of way…but in that “please help him live wisely and yearn for your presence as he goes about his day and thank you for establishing the work of his hands and multiply his efforts through your spirit, Lord” kind of way.

Say “No” to fruitless busy-ness so you can say “Yes” to your marriage. What is it that’s keeping you from connecting with your husband? Are you overcommitted? I tend to sign myself up for more than I can handle if left to my own devices. I ask my husband to help me say “No” to certain things. I need his help because it’s hard for me to say “No” to something that sounds good and interesting and I trust his judgment.

Keep it hot in the bedroom. No apologies. I couldn’t write a post on marriage and leave this out! How’s your intimacy? If you’re not into it, have you thought about why? I really and truly believe a good marriage is full of good sex. If you’re not getting any, you owe it to yourself and your husband and to figure out why.

Marriage is seasonal. There are times when things are going great and I feel like we must be the best couple on the planet. Then, there are times when I’d just rather not exert the effort and marriage is just plain hard.

Our three seasons of difficulty that have corresponded with my first trimesters of pregnancy have helped plant the truth of the seasonality of marriage. “For better or worse.” The hard times trained us to know that just because things aren’t shiny and bright right now doesn’t mean that we’ve lost it and we should give up. However, I urge you to look out for a dark season that doesn’t seem to end. There may be something else in the mix causing the season and a counselor could help you single out the problem and bring back the sun!

Now that I’ve shared my treasure trove of marriage advice with you, I’d love for you to return the favor! What advice have you held onto over the years that you’d like to share with us today?

13 Comments

  1. Annalisa August 12, 2015

    Well, we’re at 5.5 months of marriage; so if anyone is underqualified, it’s me.  My husband is a national in the country where I serve, and he has a very demanding job which means that I only get to see him every 2 weeks (if we’re lucky).  And I guess I come with just one to three pieces of underqualified advice…which I’m not even entirely sure how to label…which is why I’m not sure how many there are.

    (1?) Don’t sweat the small stuff.  On day -14 of married life, we started talking about “The next time we get married.”  We realized we had made some mistakes in wedding preparation, but the important thing was that we were going into it with patience and love for the other person.  Now at 5.5 months, we still talk about “The next time we get married, we should ______.”  (Married to each other, obviously.)  It didn’t matter, and we can joke about it. 1. Find the humor in your mistakes.
    (2?) Don’t sweat the small stuff.  I know, I said that already.  Because I only see him for 36 hours every 2 weeks, we don’t have time to fight.  We don’t want to fight.  This was something that came up on our pre-marital survey that both of us want to “keep the peace.”  (Yes, those quotation marks were in the survey.)  But the reality to it is that we’re both peaceful people.  We don’t just say, “Fine, have it your way” to “keep the peace.” But rather we both just patiently listen to what the other has to say…and most of the time one of us isn’t so passionate about his or her position that we have a stand-off.  Sometimes we don’t always communicate very well, but that’s a language issue, not a relationship issue.  How much time do you (general) have with your husband?  Is it 4 hours every night and all weekend?  Is it 24/7?  Do you have time to fight? 2. There’s not enough time to spend it fighting.

    3. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Because don’t.

    1. M'Lynn August 14, 2015

      Annalisa, I’m intrigued by your unusual arrangment, but impressed that you’ve made it work! I tend to jump to conclusions about married folks who spend so much time away from their spouse, so thank you for reminding me that just because a married couple doesn’t have the luxury of seeing each other every day doesn’t mean they have a bad marriage. I hope you continue to be creative and conscious of the importance of your time together! Thanks for sharing. I like the point that no one really wants to spend the valuable time they have with their husband arguing…so don’t! I know there are times when conflicts are bound to arise, but I’d like to be the type of wife who isn’t just sitting around waiting to pick a fight about everything.

      1. Annalisa August 14, 2015

        A lot of people who hear about our relationship like to compare me to a military wife, but in reality, I have no clue how they (military wives) do it!  I get to see my husband almost every two weeks; if it goes into a third week, I pretty much drop everything and start what I call a surprise week, making one surprise for him every day, and when he gets home I get to shower him with surprises and it’s a whole lot of fun for both of us.  If it were months at a time, like a military wife, I think I would go crazy. 😀

  2. Elizabeth August 12, 2015

    Love ’em all, M’Lynn, but especially that you were brave enough to include that second to last point 😉 Sometimes we leave that out in favor of being holy, G-rated Christians.

    1. M'Lynn August 14, 2015

      Thanks, Elizabeth! If I hid behind “holy & G-rated” I’d be a complete fraud.

    1. M'Lynn August 14, 2015

      Nice! I read the post titled “The Intentional Marriage.” Liked it a lot! I’ll have to go back to that when I have more time to dive in! Thanks!

  3. Anna August 13, 2015

    Lots of great advice.  The only thing I would add is to speak positively about your husband to him and to others.  I hate to see one spouse belittling or criticizing another.  When there are issues, handle that between the two of you, talk to a friend or counselor, but don’t drag it out in front of others.  And don’t make a habit of constantly criticizing or belittling speech (to anyone, but especially your husband.)  Build him up and encourage him.

    1. M'Lynn August 14, 2015

      Good one. As we are instructed to respect our husbands, one HUGE way to do that is through the way we talk to him and about him. Great reminder!

  4. Amy Young August 13, 2015

    I love talking about sex. You go girl!

    1. M'Lynn August 14, 2015

      Amy! You make me smile!

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