Today is July 4th, Independence Day. It is a day of celebration for our country. We are proud to be Americans. But for us, it’s another celebration, as well. Today, Caleb and I have been married 100 days! Yaaayyyyy! It’s been amazing, and we know that it will only be greater as we go. We are enjoying our life now and we are so excited for the future and everything that it holds. 🙂
I read a blog post the other day from Heaven and Hearth entitled Marriage Isn’t Hard (click the link to visit that post). Kali is wise beyond her years. In her post, she talks about how the phrase “marriage is hard, but worth it” has essentially become a mantra in the Christian culture. She disagrees, as do I. Is marriage worth it? Absolutely. Is marriage hard? No. Sin is hard, and we are sinful creatures. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” [1 Corinthians 15:10] God’s grace enables us to live a life pursuing His holy desires, and enables our marriages to be filled with grace, love, and mercy.
This is not to say that hard times will not come. Many of you will look at this and roll your eyes because we’ve been married a little over three months and of course nothing difficult could have happened during that time. (You would be wrong.) In fact, quite a few people have told us something to the effect of, “Oh, sure, marriage is good in the beginning, but you just wait.” If that is you, please stop. Speak life into newlyweds, please. We know that there will be difficult paths to navigate, but by the grace of God and with His mercy, we will triumph.
Marriage is good. We love it. We love each other. We’ve learned a lot about each other, marriage, and God in the last 100 days, and we want to share some of that with you.
#1: Jesus comes first.
It’s as simple as that. At our wedding, we wanted to have something that signified our dedication to Christ in our marriage, so we took communion. I remember exactly what Caleb’s papa (our officiant) said, “Caleb and Abbey will now take communion to signify the very purpose of their marriage.” The purpose of our marriage is to serve, honor, and love Christ. Jesus comes first in everything we do as a married couple. We make church and serving a priority. We study the Word together and separately on a daily basis. We read, we worship, and we discuss how God is moving in us. That is the only way to make marriage great.
#2: Lay a foundation now.
When you’re first married, it’s easy to want to just stay up late, watching movies, talking to each other, eating ice cream. It’s fun to sleep in on the weekends and go on adventures together. All of those things are wonderful and there’s nothing wrong with them in moderation. However, we’re also supposed to be responsible adults. We need to set aside time for each of us to study the Bible separately, as well as together. We need to set aside time to pray, to eat together, to talk, and to become a family. That is absolutely vital in the first few months of marriage, because it lays a foundation for what you will do when you’re a few years down the road, when you have kids, when life is crazy. Figure out what is important and make time for it. You won’t regret it.
#3: Enjoy the honeymoon stage.
The first few months of marriage, as far as I’ve seen, are absolutely great. You get to live with your best friend, you’re able to spend a ton of time together, and you’re just happy to finally be married. It’s awesome. ENJOY IT! Many people will say to enjoy because difficult days are coming. Again, I don’t necessarily agree. Difficulties will come, but being happy and mushy and adorable together is a choice. Enjoy it because that is how God has designed marriage to be. He wants us to be extraordinarily happy and sappy in the beginning, so that those attributes will become the foundation for our marriage. My parents have been happily married for 31 years, Caleb’s parents for 22 years. Both couples are an amazing example of starting a marriage joyfully and staying happy throughout the years. Enjoy this time. Be happy. That is God’s desire for your marriage. 🙂
#4: Be wise.
It’s fun to enjoy the honeymoon stage, but be wise at the same time. This goes back to laying a foundation. There are things you need to establish in the first few months so that your marriage will start out smoothly. You need to set a budget. You need to decide who will keep track of expenses and who will organize the receipts. You need to discuss family planning and what your goals and dreams are for the future. Honeymooning is so much fun and absolutely necessary, but being wise and communicating is a key factor to a successful marriage, as well. Have a healthy dose of both.
#5: Spend time together.
This seems obvious, because of course newlyweds want to be together all the time, but I’ve seen couples who got married and continued to live they did before the wedding. They would meet at home for dinner, but then the husband would go watch basketball with his buddies and the wife would scroll Pinterest for hours, at home by herself. Neither of those are bad in small doses, but if your time with your friends is outweighing your time with your spouse, that ain’t gonna work. Caleb and I spend time with friends and family, but once a week is pretty much our maximum. The rest of the time we spend with each other, because we’re building a foundation and a future. In a couple of years, our time spent with others may increase, but right now, our focus is on us. You can’t have a healthy marriage without spending time together.
#6: Don’t stress the little things.
Do y’all know why I love my husband? It’s not because he mows the lawn, or because he can fix anything and everything, or because he can analyze a movie better than the people that wrote it. I don’t love him for what he does. That being said, I don’t unlove him for what he doesn’t do. Have there been a few times that his socks didn’t make it into the laundry basket? Yes. You know what I did? I picked them up and put them in there. Has he forgotten to rinse off his plate a couple of times after dinner? Yes. You know what I did? I rinsed it off. Did he forget to put his shoes on the shelf by the door last week? Yes. You know what I did? Put the shoes where I wanted them.
Y’all, this is not hard. I see so many couples, especially ones that have been married for years, gripe at their spouse for the smallest things that don’t matter a hill of beans. If something really really bothers you, discuss it with your spouse. They love you, and they will most likely do their best to change their habit. For instance, it drives me absolutely crazy when people leave time on the microwave. It doesn’t bother Caleb, but he knows it bothers me, so he does his best to remember to clear it off. That’s so very sweet of him. If he forgets, I don’t gripe at him. I just push the clear button and we go on with our day. Sometimes I mention it, but most of the time I don’t, because it really doesn’t matter. Decide what is important, and let the other things go.
#7: Be nice.
Oh my gosh, yes. Treat your spouse like a human being, please. Some married couples are just plain mean to each other. They criticize each other in public, they do things to deliberately bother their spouse, and they treat them like a stranger in their own home. A couple of years ago, I read an article that said you should treat your spouse like a guest in your home. If you’re getting something to drink, ask them if they would like something. If you’re leaving the room to go get socks, tell them. If you’re about to eat the last brownie, offer it to them or ask them if they would like to share it. Just be nice! I can absolutely guarantee that will make your marriage better.
#8: Say “I love you” an obnoxious amount of times.
Most days, Caleb and I tell each other “I love you” around 25 times before he goes to work. I know that’s sappy and mushy and you marriage veterans are rolling your eyes at us, but I really think that’s a key to a happy marriage. When your spouse knows how you feel about them, they feel better about themselves. I know that’s true for me. When Caleb tells me that he loves me, that boosts my self esteem and motivates me to be a better wife. Be obnoxiously cute. Tell each other how you feel. Say “I love you” over and over and over again. It will make both of you smile and bring a lot more joy into your life.
Is Sunday lunch with your husband’s family really important to him? Get that on the schedule. Is Tuesday night poker negotiable? Take it off. As Jen Hatmaker says, “I decided what tricks belonged on my [balance] beam and dropped the rest.” At no point in life, and especially not as a newly married couple, can you juggle everything that you want to do, and especially not everything that other people want you to do. Prioritize your relationship with each other and your relationship with Christ, and decide what else can stay on the beam. Maybe the 3 hours you spend trying to find the perfect movie on Netflix every Thursday night needs to go. Kick it off the beam. My husband find joys in critiquing movies. Therefore, movie watching is on our beam. I used to spend every Wednesday night after church and Sunday morning before church practicing with the worship team at church. That doesn’t work for us anymore, so for this season, that’s off the schedule, off the beam. Figure out what is absolutely vital and important to you and keep it. If it didn’t make that cut, it’s not right for this season. Make Jesus and your marriage your top priorities.
#10: Have fun.
Marriage is great. It’s awesome. It’s absolutely the adventure of a lifetime. Don’t let it be dulled down by all of the cares and concerns of everyday life. Paying bills is necessary, so the same becomes true for working. But don’t be a workaholic and don’t just be a boring, old, fuddy-duddy, grumpy married couple. Have fun. Bake brownies as a midnight snack, then force yourself to run a couple of miles the next day. Hike to a waterfall and almost fall in the mud. Stand out in the rain. Sing ridiculous songs while cooking dinner together. Whatever make you happy, whatever is fun for you, do it. Marriage is a covenant from God, but that doesn’t make it boring! Enjoy your life together. It’s a blessing; treat it like one! 🙂
I’m no expert in marriage, but I’ve learned these few things in the past 100 days. It’s been a fantastic adventure, and no doubt, the best is yet to come. Let’s talk! What has marriage taught you? What tips do you have for newlyweds? Share in the comments section below! 🙂