As of today I have been married 6 months. A couple of weeks before our wedding someone said to us, “It gets hard. At some point you start treating each other like your family.” Now that could sound like a good and beautiful thing, right? But it can also mean that you let it all hang out, especially the stuff you’ve never shown before, and you take for granted that the other person is there in it with you. Seeing each other day-in and day-out, sometimes for 48 hours straight in our small apartment, changes things dramatically from the dating and engagement phase. For me, and I suspect for many others, the reality is even more challenging than I imagined.

A friend posted an article from Relevant the other day titled “How To Survive Your First Year of Marriage.” (https://relevantmagazine.com/article/how-to-survive-your-first-year-of-marriage). My friend is actually in the picture that accompanies the article, which is amazing, but the title is what caught my eye. For a brief moment I thought I might actually get some solid input! I read it and was completely disappointed. There was no practical survival advice about the first year of marriage and there was no encouragement for the hard moments. It simply said that the infatuation wears off, relationships take work, and having a vision to work toward together is a good thing. I hope that someone wouldn’t get to the point of marriage without knowing those things. I’m not sure I would have gotten through wedding planning and to the alter without knowing those things. I’m not an expert, but those points were way too basic for me at this point! Ironically, the title of the article has now been changed to “How To Make Sure Your Relationship Lasts Past The Beginning.” That sounds more accurate for the content, and I wouldn’t have read an article with that title hoping for advice for where I am.

While trying to overcome my title deception, I turned to another form of technology. I sent an iMessage to a long-time friend who’s a few years ahead of me in this journey. My message said, “I have a question for you: I remember you once told me that you fought about everything your first year of marriage except money. The context was talking about Dave Ramsey, but I wanted to ask something else. Do you have advice on learning to fight well? My family stuffed, then exploded, so I’m really poor at proper conflict resolution.”

My friend claimed she wasn’t wise in these matters, but I found her response to be just what I needed to hear. She said, “Right now I’m just a beggar telling another beggar where to find food.” Even so, she pointed me the right way and encouraged me in the process. I asked permission to present it here, in a numbered list as it was presented to me, only edited to remove text-message-speak and identifying details:

“Here are some of my thoughts about marital conflict, in no particular order:

  1. Living life in such close proximity to another human is incredibly challenging. I didn’t think marriage would be a cakewalk before I got married, but it is definitely harder than I expected.
  2. Being constantly reminded of my selfishness (not because my spouse reminds me verbally, although maybe sometimes) is a tough reality to face!
  3. I am not always right. This frustrates the daylights out of me, because I’m a super holy person. 🙂 [Yes, my friend is sarcastic!]
  4. The best advice I can give you is to point you to Jesus and God’s Word. Seems cliché, but it’s true. In your moments of frustration, conflict avoidance, deep compassion and love for your spouse, extreme negative feelings towards your spouse, and everything in between: take it to Jesus.
  5. You already know there is absolutely nothing you can say to God that will change how HE feels about you. So, tell him how you feel. Air your frustration to Him. He can handle it. And then pray for wisdom, knowledge, discernment, and revelation about how to proceed and communicate effectively with your spouse.
  6. I used to think I had to find the exact right marriage book (or now, parenting book) to help me self-help-fix my relationships and myself. That’s not to say there aren’t some great, Godly books out there; there are. But I consistently underestimate God’s Word, how living and active it is and applicable to every situation. If I read my Bible asking for insight and wisdom, especially on a specific topic or relationship situation, God highlights things as I read that make sense in a way they haven’t before.
  7. Nobody knows your spouse better than his Creator! He can and will guide you in your relationship with your spouse. He’ll give you wisdom about when to bring things up, and when to let things slide. He designed you two to be in relationship, so He knows how it’ll go!
  8. And 9 times out of 10, if I PRAY FOR MY HUSBAND, earnestly pray for him – even if it’s to say “LORD HELP ME LOVE HIM HE’S SUCH A DOOFUS” – the Lord softens my heart towards him. My frustration lessens because I remember we’re on the same team, not opposing ones, that we’re in this for the long haul, and that we have to learn how to walk together.
  9. I tend to be an over communicator, I think. Especially early on in our marriage I thought we had to talk each and every little thing to death, the moment it took place.  Sometimes that’s just not the case.  Sometimes walking away from the conversation and revisiting it later (after sleep, or food, or time has passed and perspectives are better) is the best solution.
  10. So the long and short: Jesus loves you. He created you. He knows THE STRUGGLE IS REAL in relationships between humans. There is no greater thing you can do for your marriage than to read God’s Word, which can lead to transformation you could never have constructed on your own.”

What do you think? Was this wise and practical advice? What would you add?

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