Marriage Advice I Need to Take

A friend recently asked me, what surprised you most about marriage? After a brief reflection on my 7 year marriage, I responded, “That there were so many things I didn’t know about myself! How selfish I was before I was married and how much I would need to depend on God’s grace. Most of all what surprised me about marriage was how my love for my husband could really grow deeper each year.”

Here’s the truth - marriage is hard. Good, amazing, life changing, sanctifying, beautiful - and hard. Two sinners under one roof pledging their faithful, undying love to each other. All the while dealing with their own inadequacies, wrestling with their own ambitions, with the minimal training afforded for this paramount vocation! I for one, would have been long gone from this pact if not for the sacramental grace God continually pours down to us married folk, most especially in the necessary sacrament of confession. I really don’t know how any marriage can survive without it! Confession is my number one advice, and I wholeheartedly believe that faith, prayer and a sacramental life must be the center for any marriage to survive, let alone to thrive. It’s reassuring that we do not have to do this alone! As I continue to fall and to disappoint my husband, I can accept my humanity, depend on God’s grace, and allow my marriage to strengthen over weakness.

My recent binge on marriage books in attempt to up my wifing game has helped resurface some practical tips. The self-help gurus state that it is not about eliminating the problem or solving the argument - our problems, arguments, and sins are bound to continue from our fallen human nature. It’s about working on ourselves first, learning to argue with the never ending problems of life well, and remaining a team. I could go on with the advice to continue dating, spice up the intimacy, work on a project together etc…but I have found these 3 tips to encompass them all!

  1. Be friends. Friendship is the heart of romantic love. How do I act with my friends? That is what I must foster most with my husband. You will find laughing, gaming, movie nights, etc., blooming in the happy and successful marital friendships.

  2. Be respectful. Respect is the buzz word, especially for men. Marriage psychologists and biblical scholars agree. Love and Respect was a good one which describes a crazy cycle that happens when men feel disrespected, they act unloving, & when women feel unloved they act disrespectful. Respect is defined as an act of giving particular attention, or to hold in high regard or esteem. Respecting your husband will radically change your marriage. What does it look like to be respectful wife? Or a respectful person in general? I’m assuming it includes not interrupting, not nagging, and not constantly questioning. I am still learning.

  3. Be a team. This one is the best. It’s you and him against the world of problems. Or you & him against the kids ;) What are the characteristics of successful teams? Friendship, respect and an understanding of your role on the team, (thank you Edith Stein!). A forward and point guard need each other, for equally important, but not exactly similar things. What are the strengths and weaknesses that you bring to the married team? Sometimes we carry the other one, sometimes we sit out, and sometimes we’re running from man to man to zone. But it’s always easier and better when its together. He is on my team! This one seriously helps me through so much, even with the division of labor in family life!

So, here’s the truth. I am fallen, broken & barely getting these right most of the time. But by the grace of God, my husband and I receive the sacraments, forgive each other, choose to love each other, and watch in amazement how our marriage gets better each year. That is the ultimate surprise hidden in the beautiful gift of marriage.

Now to remember these tips as we enter into holiday season family chaos…Here’s to the good, hard stuff of marriage!

What about you? What surprised you most about marriage?

In Joy,

Alex

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Alex DeRoseComment