Sunday, 17 April 2011

Marriage advice (for Geoff and Claire)

This afternoon Geoff (Miller) and Claire (Walker) are calling over to get some advice about marriage.  They are getting married in May.  I thought I would post the thoughts Caroline and I share with them, and some of the things that arise in the conversation.

Love is as much to do with the will as the emotions.  You won't always wake up and think, 'Wow! isn't she (he) beautiful.'  You have to choose to love them.  You need to focus on their strengths.  You need to remember that you are not perfect either.  Sometimes feelings come in response to actions as much as actions can be the product of feelings. 

Marriage is what you make of it.  Many couples who have enjoyed going out, and have had a wonderful beginning to their marriage, run dry.

If you want a godly marriage you have to take personal responsibility to be godly yourself.

Marriage will expose your sin in a way that you have been able to hide it from others (and yourself).

Be prepared to alter your social life.

Let your gentleness be evident to all.

Love covers a multitude of sins.

If your belief is that the husband should lead (accepting that people may have varying opinions on this issue) then you have to accept that sometimes they will get the decision wrong.

If your belief is that the husband should lead, then it must be recognised that this leading is not to be self-serving.

'Sorry' is one of the most important words in marriage.

Learn from the weaknesses and strengths of your parents' marriage. 

It can be difficult losing your space.  Having someone live with you is not easy.  It is a great blessing to have their company, but you can not act as if your home is your personal castle.
Your wife (husband) will not be the last person that you will be attracted to.  Don't buy into the whole attitude of 'it's okay to look as long as you don't touch.'  Deal with the temptation, of people you are attracted too, right at its root.  Watch that you don't spend too much time with them etc.  Your marriage is in trouble if you start comparing your spouse with other people's spouses or other women/men.  Find someone to keep you accountable.  Remember you don't have to get into bed with someone to betray your marriage partner.

Related to that is something I heard at Mandate.  'You don't lose your love for your spouse, you give it away.'  When you stop working on it, you give it away.  When you start focusing on someone else, you give it away.  When your hobbies/work matter more to you than they do, you give it away.
Learn your marriage partner's love language (do they long for touch, time, gifts, service or affirmation). 

Don't expect too much from the honeymoon night (although make physical intimacy something that you practice regularly, and that you work at).  Just because you have to fight the urge to jump into bed before you are married doesn't mean that you will be constantly in the mood for sex once you are married.  See sex as a means of serving your spouse.  See sex as a part of communicating with your spouse.

Paul Tripp says something like, 'if you are struggling in your marriage your problem is you' (ie. deal with your own sin rather than simply focusing the blame on your spouse).  

Share out the tasks around.  It really helped our marriage to sit down and talk about our expectations as to who should do what.  NEVER EVER RE-STACK THE DISHWASHER!!! 

Serving your spouse is a part of serving God.  Don't think that you are pleasing God if you are spending all your time at Church-meetings but neglecting time at home.

You cannot simply make up for quantity time with quality time.  You need to have both quantity time and quality time.

Don't let the sun go down on your anger.  This does not mean you have to analyse everything before you go to sleep.  It is your anger that you are responsible for, sometimes you simply have to be willing to let things go.

Pray together. This requires discipline. 

As I review this advice I am conscious of sounding a hypocrite.  I have not always practiced what I am preaching here.  If anyone out there has any further advice I would appreciate it!

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