Marriage–the beauty of a man and a woman deciding to spend the rest of their lives fighting over the covers. Everyone seems to have advice about love and marriage, and there is no shortage of both sacred and secular books about the embattled institution, so I thought I would throw my own little advice out there. Please feel free to take it or leave it, or, better yet, comment and share some of your own advice.
Who to Marry?
No one can tell you who to marry, not even your parents or friends. You alone have to make that decision. My one bit of advice on the subject of picking a mate is this: BE CAREFUL. For the love of all that is good and decent make absolutely certain you want that person to be the mother/father of your children, awake in the room when you are asleep, nursing you when you are sick, and spending money in your name. If you do not trust them with any part of that, any part of your life, then skip over them like a puddle of mud and toss them away like a bad piece of fruit. I mean it! Ignore how you feel emotionally about them because your heart lies to you. Listen to your head because it is smarter than the heart. Nothing has done more damage to the reputation of marriage than people thinking they are being romantic when really they are just being idiots.
Honesty is Important, but Transparency is Best
What I mean here is that you need to always be honest with your spouse, but transparency is a better policy because it eliminates a lot of the places where there might be lies. My wife has complete access to all of my digital devices and she knows all my pass codes. Nothing is hidden from her. The same is true of her. I can check her iPhone, iPad, login personals, Facebook, anything whenever I want. She can do the same. She knows where I am going, who I am with, and when I expect to be back all the time. This level of transparency is better than having to work at being honest. Honesty flows naturally when there is nothing to hide.
I will have advice on money in a future blog, but as it pertains to marriage there really is only two rules that we follow which I think every couple should. Rule one–one joint bank account. If you try to have a his and hers bank account, you are setting yourself up for disaster, because hidden money breeds secret spending and secret spending betrays honesty and they all conspire against transparency and thus the relationship is murdered. Rule two–pay the bills together. We pay bills twice a month, together, usually with a cup of tea and music playing. It is work, but enjoyable work as we get a chance to talk about how much to pay on that bill, how much to give to that cause, could we tithe a little more this month, etc… etc…
This blog post is not about children, that will be another advice blog, but as with money there is one important thing to tell you which you may disagree with. That’s okay but I know I’m right. You must love your spouse more than your children. When the kids grow up and leave, you will still be with your spouse. If you love your spouse correctly, there will be plenty of love that flows toward your children but the opposite is not true. If you love your children more than your spouse you will neglect the most important human relationship the Lord gave you.
No marriage is immune from difficulty and troubles. When hard times come, do not call a lawyer and opt for the decision you think will be easier. Divorce is never the ‘easy’ option. It is messy and inconvenient. Instead, when hard times come, push your heart to learn to love the life you’ve made and the marriage ideal as much as the spouse you’re married to. There will be times you want to run away and hide from your husband/wife, but knowing that the life you’ve made and the marital rhythms will be gone–lost–abandoned may help you hang in there. It is worth it.
There is one exception to the ‘hang in there in hard times’ rule and that is abuse. If a spouse is hurting you and abusing you, get out. Leave. God did not make you to be a punching bag and this is not his plan for you. Anyone who tells you otherwise does not have your best interest in mind.
A pastor friend of mine outlined this concept for me years ago, and it has proven to be wonderfully true and helpful. A married couple should spend 1 hour a week together. This hour is spent talking, sharing, being together. It can be a long walk, dinner, sitting on the porch swing or anything at all. What it can’t be is watching television, gaming, or working. Turn the cell phone off. 1 hour a day.
2 days a month, not necessarily back to back, but 2 days a month a married couple should spend alone, as much as possible, and together. Go shopping, go for a drive, visit a museum, ride horses, hike, read in the park or anything at all. 2 days together.
3 uninterrupted days once a quarter a couple should plan to be alone. This is hard when the kids are small, but it is not impossible. If possible, go to a cabin in the mountains or a hotel in the city, or if money is tight just block away time at home. Turn the phone off and be together.
If you never spend time with your spouse, your marriage will fail.
Okay, this blog post has already ran way over–so I’ll wrap it up there. I’d love to hear what marriage advice you might have.
12 responses to “MARRIAGE ADVICE”
Our basics are the same but our application may appear a little different.
We have two joint bank accounts. It is part of the way we budget for things. Both of us are on both accounts.
So much of it revolves around a basic truth: We would rather be together than apart and I would rather be with her than anyone else (and she feels the same…at least, she says she does).
We are coming up on our 40th and I think we are off to a good start.
i hope you guys have another 140 years!
you guys have two accounts, but they are joint, so there are no secrets. what i mostly refer to is the ‘his’ and ‘her’ approach i see so often, usually among re-married middle-agers in their second or third marriages.
thanks for reading and commenting!
I am in total agreement and I throw young naive adults in there, too. They think they can get married but maintain their totally separate lives (friends, guys/gals night out, etc) yet have a healthy and Godly marriage.
I love all of this. I especially love the transparency, it is most important I think. I also like what you said about who to marry, if you don’t trust that person in your most vulnerable state, then move on.
I would say by biggest piece of advice would be to bring God into your life and into your marriage, if you haven’t already. Before Daniel and I brought God into our lives and our marriage, we were on the highway to divorce. I can’t say exactly what happened, but after going to church and getting baptized, we found a new way to live, how to treat each other, how to get through hard times. Obviously it wasn’t an overnight change, it was something we had to work on, both on our marriage and on ourselves, but we knew what we needed to change and we had a book in front of us as a guide.
i completely agree! the Lord is the most important part of a healthy marriage. i now that your marriage is a great example to many around you, and most importantly to your children.
thanks for reading and commenting.
“Marriage–the beauty of a man and a woman deciding to spend the rest of their lives fighting over the covers”. “Everyone seems to have advice about love and marriage, and there is no shortage of both sacred and secular books about the embattled institution, so I thought I would throw my own little advice out there”.
What challenging, stimulating and thought provoking words. This subject has always been dear to my heart for many years. I will explain this in a minute. You say “I’d love to hear what marriage advice you might have”. All I can say is “You asked for it”.
Your article is 100% on the mark. It has always been my opinion that you don’t need a psychologist or his/her books to understand the basic concept of marriage. Your article or articles like yours should be attached to every marriage license application because as humans, we let our lives be run by emotions. When it comes to marriage, we need to step back one step, keep out pants zipped up and understand just what we are about to do. After all, God gave humans a brain and the ability to rationalize thoughts. This is not to say seeking the advice of marriage counselor in some cases is wrong.
While reading any article, I try very hard to put myself into the shoes of the author and experience his/her thoughts through my eyes. Sometimes I find this extremely hard. Your article was very easy to do this. You write this from your heart and I don’t think it comes from the pastoral aspect of your life for this type of love is in your basic human make up. One only needs to observe your family dynamics to understand “you really practice what you preach”
Now, the reason this subject has been dear to my heart. It seems that I may have not listened to my own advice as a young man. You see, Susan and I have been married for 42 years, we both work in the engineering field, we have been employed by the same employers, we have traveled all over the world, at the same time working on the same projects. It seems we are never apart for any great length of time. To top that off, we knew each other for 9 days before were married. Just how we felt about each other on that first day is another story in it’s self.
When people find out the above, they always ask how we did it. We must do something special, as most people can’t even work for the same employer, let alone be in the same house with their spouse for more than 12 hours a day and part of that is sleeping.
So I still have that nagging question, why us. What makes us different that we have accomplished the above? We consider ourselves to down to earth, level headed people with the same wants and values others have, we feel were are no better than anyone else. We have 4 great children and enjoy our grand kids. I’m not saying there haven’t been hard times or money troubles. Every married couple experience these type of hardships sometime during the course of their marriage. I’m still left with the same question, why us? May be we aren’t supposed to know that answer since the question has gone unanswered for many years and life as we know it is getting shorter.
Last but not least, the 1 2 3 concept outlined by your pastor friend is nothing short of brilliant. I have even adopted some of information outlined for myself. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
phil–thanks for commenting!
why you? it is likely that it is because at an early part in your relationship you DECIDED to make it work, and as you made that decision, your heart aligned with your head and the next thing you know, the both of you are sharing life with someone you genuine enjoy being with.
at least, that is my two cents worth.
As usual, your advise is always worth more than two cents.
[…] ran way too long on the blogs regarding marriage advice and advice on raising children, so I’ll make that up by keeping this one pretty short and […]
This is a great list.
Two favorite lines: being awake in the room while you’re asleep and spending money in your name. Indeed.
I take the hard times idea one step further. Hard times are inevitable and they’re the times in a marriage where we learn a lot about ourselves and each other (some good things, some not so good). Has helped me to know that we grow from our struggles if we allow them to teach us.
i agree winifred. what always has concerned me is that when those hard times come, far too many people bolt from the relationship and seek the apparently ‘easy’ out of divorce, and one of the many consequences is they teach themselves that it is okay to quit on a relationship and they never learn how to make things work and that they can indeed do it.
thanks for reading, and commenting.
[…] written several blogs of late on “advice,” varying from money, marriage, children, and a few other things. One thing I know a little something about is pastoring, so […]