Monday, February 28, 2022 by By Sarah
tired as a mother…
Ignoring the mountain of dishes and the toys strewn across the living room, I settled onto the couch. Weary from the day, hope surged through me. Opening up my magazine, my excitement turned to frustration and then disgust. The article promising marital bliss contained advice from celebrities. Many of them were on their second, third, or even sixth marriage. All of them had been married less than a year. I threw the magazine down. What a waste of money.
in need of advice…
When I bought the magazine, I thought the article would strengthen my five-year-old marriage. I needed advice on juggling kids and a spouse. I needed to know how to deal with my husband’s demanding job. I needed real advice from someone who had been there, not an unrealistic look at marriage.
When we were first married, I didn’t see the baggage attached to my spouse, and luckily, he didn’t see mine either. Not long after the honeymoon, bad habits and weird relatives made their appearances. Unique quirks turned to annoyances. To make matters worse, our beautiful, perfect children had the same faults we had. When I threw the magazine down, I knew why many marriages didn’t make it. Now I needed help.
Over the years, I realized the best marriage advice was free, and it was all around me. My husband and I have been blessed with parents who lived the example of what marriage should look like. Watching them and talking to them has strengthened our marriage. After twenty years of marriage, here are some lessons we’ve learned.
- Put your marriage first — Marriage is the foundation of the family. Children need their parents to have a healthy relationship. They learn how to love others by seeing their parents love each other. When our children were small, we put them to bed early so that we could have a few minutes to reconnect every day. Now that our kids are teenagers, we prioritize a weekly date, even if it’s just a walk around the block.
- Always sleep in the same bed — My parents, who were married for over fifty years, practiced this one. Even when we are angry with each other, neither of us sleeps in a different bed. It’s hard to keep being angry when you’re so close to someone.
- Pray — Prayer is the most important part of any marriage. How else could two different people ever live together? When my husband was working 70+ hour work weeks, I made the mistake of using my prayer time as a time to complain. It wasn’t until I focused on what he needed that anything changed. We need to make sure we are praying for our spouses, not about them. Prayer needs to be focused on God, not our agendas.
a time to slow down…
Now we can have conversations and dates. We have time to remember why we chose each other. But we miss our newlywed selves. We wish we could tell those tired parents to slow down. Enjoy each other and those cute babies. Soon they’ll be moody teens. We don’t just look back; we also look forward. We plan for our future, knowing that every moment is fleeting. Marriage doesn’t always turn out how we planned. We don’t see the upcoming challenges or the joys.
After 47 years of marriage, my father-in-law resides in a memory care facility an hour away from his wife. My mother-in-law is learning a new and deeper dependency on God. She reminded me of the real reason the magazine article never helped. No matter the stage of your marriage, only one source of advice can be trusted.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV.
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” Deuteronomy 33:27, NIV.
What is the best marriage advice you’ve ever gotten? What makes your marriage work?
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