Tara: I just want to introduce our new guest poster, my mom, Karen! This post was written by her, edited by me. Look out for more great blog posts from her later on! And if you would like to contribute as a guest poster on this blog, send me an email! I’d love to hear from you!
My darling husband and I just celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary last month and it really had me pondering how we have made it this long when so many marriages are failing and ending in divorce, even Christian marriages.
I have prayed and thought about it for a while now and God took me back to the beginning and showed me things that helped change the way our marriage was going, which was not doing well in the beginning. Our marriage was like all the others out there – a selfish one that was filled with fighting and stubbornness.
God gently reminded me that I came into our marriage with a chip on my shoulder because Dave is my 2nd husband. My first husband walked out on me after 2 years because he said, “This isn’t fun anymore.” I was devastated, to say the least. My heart was broken and my whole world fell apart. The pain was so great that I just had to get away from him and my hometown and I moved almost blindly hundreds of miles away. Now God had me in a strange area, only knowing one other person, and through a lot of unhealthy events in my life (which I won’t go into) He turned my heart toward’s Him and was able to finally open my eyes to some truths I needed to learn.
1. Don’t make your spouse your source of happiness
The first truth God revealed is that I had my first husband up on a pedestal. I expected him to save me through life’s difficulties and make me happy and to fulfil all of my wants and needs. I was a baby Christian at the time so I really didn’t know to go to God for these things. God had to knock him off of that pedestal. I put too much on my now ex-husband and he probably didn’t know what to do with it all. God showed me how insecure I was and that no man on earth could fulfill all those needs; no human could. No one is responsible for my happiness but me. And, no one could fix my insecurities but God Himself. I needed to grow in my walk with the Lord.
2. Have the right attitude
When God did bring Dave and me together through prayer, I came in with an attitude of, “I will not allow this man to do what the last one did so if he wants to leave then I’ll just say, don’t let the door hit you on the butt on the way out!” Wrong attitude!
3. Pray together
The second change that God showed us as a couple was that we needed to pray together and that we are not here to change each other but to allow God to change us as individuals through prayer.
For such a long time I thought everything needed to be done my way like putting dishes in the dishwasher or any type of cleaning, etc. And if it wasn’t done my way, it wasn’t done right. But I realized that we each had our own way of doing things and that’s okay, neither is right or wrong. What I learned from this was to be grateful for what Dave did do around our home and appreciate it.
4. You don’t always need to be right
Another lesson God taught me was that I didn’t need to be right all the time. Through my insecurities, I thought being wrong meant I was dumb so I would fight to the death to prove I was right, but God taught me through many different ways that being right is overrated. It was okay to be wrong and it didn’t mean I was stupid, just that I was learning. God was helping me to become humble and submit to Him and to my husband. If I would just open my eyes, I would see many new things and not be stuck in my old way of doing things. Change was a good thing.
5. Have a sense of humor
Something else the Lord taught me was to have a sense of humor because I took life way too seriously. Dave had a wonderful sense of humor which I couldn’t understand at the time, but he would use it to lighten things up for me. At first, I would resist it, but over time I started to laugh and have more fun in life. The most wonderful thing I learned was to laugh at myself – that really changed things for me.
6. Fight fair
One of the most important lessons I learned was how to fight fair. Early in our marriage, we didn’t fight fair, especially me because I was taught to go for the jugular and all the nastiness in my flesh would come out. But, again, God showed me never to treat the man He had given me as a gift in such a way. Dave was His son as much as I was His daughter so over time I learned to have our arguments in a more mature way. It went even further than that because I learned I hated arguing and fighting so I just decided it wasn’t going to happen any more. We have learned to talk things through now as a couple and try to see things from each other’s point of view. I love and want peace in my life and marriage and will do anything to keep it that way. We still have our disagreements but we’ve learned to never treat each other in a cruel way or say things we’ll later regret. As I grow in my walk with the Lord I see these things so much clearer and understand why it is in His Word.
I remember a time when we were having a heated fight and I went into our bedroom, threw myself on the bed and asked God, “Why don’t you change that man?” What came back to me was, “Who is sitting on your throne, Karen?” Right then I knew I needed to study, pray and become the wife God called me to be. Most of the bad things that happen in marriages are because of selfish attitudes (it’s all about me, my happiness, etc.) and you just can’t live like that and have a happy marriage.
7. Change Your Perspective
Perspective is another thing that God pointed out to me. We all have different ones and yours may not be the right one. Pray and ask God to give you His perspective.
I remember when Dave came to me after we had been married a while and said, “I feel like I don’t love you any more.” I said to him, “Love is not a feeling but a decision we need to make each and every day.” We started studying 1 Corinthians 13, God’s love chapter, and we both decided every single day that we will love each other no matter what and that the word divorce will never enter our conversation. It’s not even an option.
Do Marriage God’s Way
One thing people don’t think about when they get married is that you are two different individuals with all your gifts, talents, flaws and imperfections coming to live together, and expecting one to change for the other is just unrealistic. We need to accept each other as is and then pray God will bring the best out of each of us. God does the changing, we just need to be open to the change. And, He can open us up to change when we pray.
I’ve learned that it’s not all about me or about Dave but about God. Doing marriage God’s way is the best way. We can be such selfish people and a good marriage calls for unselfish living. We both give 100% into our marriage and it’s hard work but well worth it. Dave has taught me to laugh, to say “whatever” and to relax. I’m sure I have taught him a lot as well. After 31 years of marriage, we are best friends and look forward to growing old together.