Not only are the holidays right around the corner, but so are many beautiful weddings and upcoming marriages, for couples who are ready to start their lives together.
And, as with any major life event, advice flows freely from well meaning friends, mentors, pastors and family members, until some couples are tempted to elope, just to escape the information overload.
I remember being a young bride-to-be and receiving little pieces of paper, at my wedding shower, with each guest’s greatest piece of advice. Most of them I can’t remember, but a few did stick with me and I tried to take them to heart during those early days.
But, 32 years later, I have my own views on marriage and I have to say, some of those words of wisdom just didn’t hold up, under real life circumstances.
Take for instance…….
“DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF!”
I thought about these words a lot in the early years of my marriage and did my best to let a lot of things go. I didn’t want to make mountains out of molehills, as they say.
But now, on this side of thirty-two years, I would have to say, that if you don’t sweat the small stuff, you won’t be prepared for the big stuff.
In other words, if you don’t have discussions, talk things out, walk through the fire every now and then about stupid little things, you won’t have a clue how to communicate when the big things of life slap you in the face.
David and I didn’t fight a lot for many years. But, looking back, I can see that much of that was one of us just not communicating with the other. We didn’t want to sweat the small stuff, so we just let things go, until one of us would blow a gasket when we couldn’t keep quiet any longer.
When you use this tactic, what happens is that the big things rock you to the core and you have no clue how to talk about them, because you’ve been stuffing your feelings for all the little things and now, when communication is vital, you don’t really know how to handle it together.
So, instead of not sweating the small things, go ahead and hash out some small things now and then. Use those small things to practice sharing your opinion, getting things off your chest and learning how to communicate with one another. Then, when life slaps you with one of its situations, you’ll be a team who knows how to work through things together.
The 2nd marriage cliche that bugs the heck out of me is this…….
“YOU DON’T JUST MARRY THE PERSON…YOU MARRY THE FAMILY.”
THIS IS SUCH A LIE and the sooner you accept that this is a lie, you will strengthen your marriage by leaps and bounds!
Unfortunately, extended family can ruin a marriage faster than all the small stuff ever will.
Let’s just take it back to the Bible, ok?
Marriage is between ONE man and ONE woman. It’s a covenant between YOU, YOUR SPOUSE AND GOD. Period.
Yes, you gain a family when you marry, but by no means, do you MARRY the family! And the sooner you wipe that ridiculous piece of advice from your mind, the better your marriage will be.
I’ll even go so far as to say, that any marriage that acts as if extended family gets to weigh in on what happens between a man and wife, is a marriage that is struggling.
When you allow extended family – I’m talking parents, siblings, even close friends, to get in between you and your spouse, you’ve set your marriage up for failure and you’ve created a toxic environment that will poison your relationship.
And, for all of this, I have one solution…..BOUNDARIES!
Set boundaries around your marriage. Guard it with your life. Protect it from every intruder; be it your mother, father, sister, friend or anyone else who thinks they have a say-so in your relationship.
This one act – setting boundaries – will speak LOVE to your spouse like nothing else will.
Because the alternative to not setting boundaries around your marriage, will tell your spouse that you value ALL of those other people more than you value your marriage. And that will not turn out well for anyone.
“DON’T GO TO BED MAD.”
Here’s the deal with this…..sometimes you’re going to go to bed with things unresolved and that’s OK!
You know why? Because that time in between fighting and waking, has given you margin. You’ve had time to think, to cool off, to get some perspective that you didn’t have in the heat of the moment.
And that’s a good thing!
Yes, some issues won’t be solved by sleeping on them, but many of them will.
Most of the fights we have in marriage are stupid. Let’s just be real. And going to bed mad won’t be the end of the world, but could be the time you need to pray and get a different view of the issue at hand.
So, while you don’t want it to be a habit, your life won’t fall apart if you want to get some rest and cool off a bit.
Don’t sleep on the couch and don’t kick your spouse during the night.
But, go to bed and let your mind and body take a break from the stress and nine times out of ten, when you wake up in the morning, the issue will be so much smaller than it seemed the night before.
Most of all, don’t forget that your marriage is a group of three…..you, your spouse and Jesus. Don’t leave Him out of your problems. He entered into this covenant with you because He’s your biggest advocate for a healthy marriage.
And that’s one piece of advice you can rely on!
Until Next Time……