When Stuart and I were engaged we were giddy excited, as most preparing couples are. You have an excitement and an anticipation for something so good. We were gifted with a lot of wonderful advice and encouragement during that time. We were pumped to prepare for life together. Honestly, we are still learning so much and “preparing for our marriage” even now. As we process what advice has made the greatest impact we thought we would share it with you.
Below is a list of the top 10 pieces of advice that we try to make a daily part of our marriage.
1.) Sacrifice is what makes marriage successful. Today every dating website is going to highlight the importance in finding a mate that is compatible. Telling you that marriage only works when you have the perfect pairing of two individual personalities. We were instructed that the key ingredient for a marriage that goes the distance is to chose to sacrifice for the other DAILY. So in the times when you don’t feel compatible you still know how to love your partner.
2.) Always date your spouse. Take time to turn off the distractions of the world and reconnect with your spouse. This is one that we could be better at doing. Often we don’t feel like this is necessary or we want to stay home with Anna, but never once have we regretted going on a date night. We always realize we had more to talk and connect about then we ever thought.
3.)Its all a learning process. Its okay if you don’t figure it all out right away. Be willing to learn alongside each other in every area of your life. Offer yourself and the other patience. Laugh when you make mistakes and pave a new road together. There will be a time(s) in your marriage where you need help, or to readjust, or just communicate… this is normal and always worth addressing.
4.) Never stop being silly with one another. Let yourself be silly. Often people want to remind you that marriage is hard work, and it is. But it is just as important for people to remind you that marriage is a blast. That you can choose to have fun each day with your best friend.
5.)Pray together. “Jesus is your divine superglue.” Come to him together and choose to rest in the Christ that you see in the other. Know that prayer is powerful for your life and family and reminds you what the source of all goodness is. Try not to only pray when big things come up, make it a habit. Have time, space, and a pattern for the way you come together, this will make it more likely to happen.
6.) Make yourself into the biggest gift you can be for your spouse in that moment. Is your spouse sick? excited? tired? overwhelmed? What can you do in that moment to serve them well? When you each think about the other, everyone will be covered. There will be seasons when one needs more support than the other. Do not tally up all that you have done, expecting equal payment. Rather make your self a gift for that moment and do it with joy.
7.) Offer each other permission to give constructive feedback. This way when things come up, and they will, you can communicate freely and without fear. Deliver the feedback with consideration and patience and accept it with grace. I can’t understate how important this has been for Stuart and I.
8.) Hold hands a lot. Show each other appropriate affection and cherish each other in public and private. The world doesn’t see enough true love. Reclaim what marriage looks like to the public eye. Your show of affection also goes a long way to remind your spouse that you are thinking about them.
9.) Embrace the fact that you are different and that you are both going to need to stretch to make your differences work. First learn about the other person in ways you may have never done before. Learn their love language, their Myers Briggs (ENFJ over here, if you were wondering) and how their family celebrated different traditions. Once you have learned how you are different and what expectations you both might bring to the table, learn that you may need to adjust your expectations and be willing to meet your spouse where they are.
10.) Look to the cross to remember how greatly you are loved and how you are called to love the other. Offer grace and mercy for it is the greatest depiction of love. If one of you is upset it is the other’s responsibility to take it to the cross with their guts all hanging out. Open, honest, and vulnerable.
So thats the list. Most of it boils down to serve each other.
But as a bonus, there is one more thing we have learned in the last two years to be really helpful and would want to pass on to other preparing couples. So here a bonus number 11 from the Wiggin house…
11. Be on the same page. Whether it is about what your goals are for a Saturday, how you want to manage your finances, the steps you will take to tackle a project, or a discipline you want to enforce with your child. Come together and decide on a plan, this way you are not doing it his way or her way, but the way you have decided together.
What advice has been offered to you? What marriage advice would you offer to others? Whether you are married or single you know a thing or two about what makes a relationship work, lets hear your thoughts.