Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21
Have you ever started a new job and felt like a fish out of water? You had no understanding of how the company operated, the different personalities of your coworkers, or even where to find the breakroom so you could get some coffee.
Maybe you took up a new hobby and stumbled along as you tried to figure things out. Our family loves to play pickleball. If you aren’t familiar with it, consider it a cross between tennis and ping-pong. When we started, none of us really understood the rules. We kept at it and watched others, learned from YouTube videos, and eventually, we got to the place where we were pretty good.
You may have gone through pre-marital counseling. Maybe you even attended a marriage conference before your marriage. Those preparations are wonderful, but until you actually enter a marriage, you have no idea how to be married.
You may have had no idea that the person you loved so much when you were dating doesn’t ever pick their clothes up off of the floor. You may have discovered that your spouse doesn’t enjoy going out every night. What was once fun to them when you were dating seems like a chore now that you are married.
When we admit that we are clueless about marriage, we can let down our guard enough to consistently learn from one another and others how to succeed at marriage.
Even when you enter marriage with preparation and trying to understand how to serve each other, there will be seasons of life where you realize you don’t know how to navigate the path together. For my husband and I, that happened after the birth of our twins. We had a peaceful and low-drama marriage up until that point. We rarely argued and genuinely enjoyed spending time together.
Once the twins were born and they refused to sleep at night, my husband and I started to notice we would be very short with each other and condescending when we were up in the middle of the night. We had to recognize the problem and figure out how to work around it. The twins were going to be with us for a long time, so we had to find a way to be loving to one another despite the challenges we were facing in that season.
Other challenging times can happen when there is a job change, a move to a new city, a change of churches, a death in the family, or another major life event. Challenging times can also come on a random Thursday when the stress of life is pressing in, and one spouse chooses to see their spouse as the enemy instead of their life partner.
So how do you learn how to not only be married but have a marriage that is fulfilling to you and honoring to Christ?
It takes work.
I wish there were an easy button, but there isn’t. Your marriage is a relationship that needs nurture to grow. A few days ago, I realized a plant a friend gave me had been neglected for several weeks. The leaves were shriveled up and felt dry. I gave it some attention and water, and just a few hours later, it was already looking healthier. Your marriage needs similar attention, especially on the days it feels dried up.
There will be seasons when you will have to be very proactive about the impacts that season will have on your marriage. You will need to become a good communicator. Even if you feel like you communicate well, when trying times come, that will be more important than ever.
Be willing to get outside help. There are so many valuable resources available on marriage. Read a book together, attend a conference, or find a good podcast on the topic. Be patient with each other and learn how to do this wonderful thing called marriage together!
Ask the Lord to remove old attitudes, memories or habits that need to be carved out so He can fill it with more of Him. He is faithful. Ask Him to direct every step of your relationship as you and your spouse learn how to succeed at marriage.
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 through 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. Ephesians 5:25-28