Marriage Memos

In an earlier post, I told you about sharing with that group of young women some thoughts on marriage.  From the perspective of 26 years.  My thoughts.  Paul's thoughts.  They wanted to know what we have done well....and not so well.  We answered their questions.  The time was treasured. 

Here's what we told them.

The purpose of marriage is to glorify God by showing the world a picture of God's covenant relationship with His people.  It's not to make the husband and wife happy.  It's not to raise great kids.  It's not to fulfill dreams.  It's to give the world a glimpse of God's love and faithfulness to us and our love and devotion to Him.

Embracing that makes all the difference.  Permanence.  Selflessness.  Commitment to the highest good of another.  When we get the purpose, happiness and fulfillment usually follow.  But they are not the goal. 

What have we done right?  I could summarize it all by saying that what we have done right is to accept and enjoy God's amazing grace.  That two stubborn, prideful, self-seeking 20 somethings could forge a life together that has brought love and joy and the adventure of a lifetime is nothing short of amazing.  And, oh, how we have been changed in the process!

My list of rights and wrongs focus on the wife-side.  Cuz I am one.  And that's the only side I am qualified to assess.  Here are my thoughts on what we have done right -(more than 3 because I am combining my list and Paul's)
1.  Made time most every day to talk.  Maybe just 15 minutes but nearly every evening after dinner, we excuse the children from the table and we stay there and talk.  The only interruptions allowed are, in this order, if they are bleeding from the head or the house is on fire.  Otherwise, they have to wait to talk to us until we are through.
2.  Didn't get in financial trouble.  Period.  Didn't strike it rich ,and we have walked by faith many many times when there was more month at the end of the money but we didn't get into debt.  And we learned  better and better ways to handle the financial allotment that God entrusted us with.
3.  Didn't depend on in-laws.  Financially or emotionally.  We really believed that "leave and cleave" stuff.  That doesn't mean that I never called my Mom about how to cook a roast or if the stress at work was making me cry.  Nor does it mean that Paul refused to let me accept a new dress from his Mom.  But we were very careful to be separate.  And we never ever ever spoke a critical word about each other to a parent.  Never.
4.  Paul says I put him first.  Before work, kids, parents, friends, ministry, self. 
5.  And he says I have always been supportive of his career.  (That's been easy, actually.  I am very proud of him and I love to watch him shine in his job.)
6.  We understand and appreciate the perks of marriage.  You get my drift.

Here's some of my mistakes.  Remember, my husband is very kind and diplomatic.  Really, we could go on and on and on listing errors.  But here are some that stand out.  (And, for the record, Paul stressed that these were mistakes early on, not now.  Yeah, I am practically perfect these days.  Uh-huh)
1.  Failure to show respect.  Busted.  Guilty as charged.  I took a long time to understand that I needed love but he needed respect.  And my tone of voice or choice of words could be lethal.
2.  Over-reaction.  I could make a mountain range out of a grain of sand.  Hyperbole is my spiritual gift.  Not a good one.  I am sure it made him withdraw and become reluctant to share anything with me.
3.  Not patient with him.  He didn't give specifics but I am sure he remembers times I wanted him to think faster, talk faster, act faster, and decide faster.  He processes things carefully whereas I just move.  As though speed makes up for accuracy.  Many many times, my haste made for waste.  But he says I am much more patient now.  (I think I'm probably just more tired but I'll take the compliment!)
4.  It took me a long time to learn to be a good daughter-in-law.  I am very grateful for the patience and prayers of extended family.  Very grateful.  And praying that I will not reap all that I have sown.

I Peter 3:1-6 has some great counsel for wives.  Especially vs. 6.  You can look it up.  Particularly poignant when you learn that the word "lord" in vs. 6 doesn't refer to a position of diety.  Rather, that Greek word means "agent for good".  Scripture tells us wives that God will use our husbands as an agent of good in our lives.  Remember that.  God will employ your marriage to bring good to your life, as you obey and trust Him.  That's great news.