Out With the Old…In With the Newlywed

On October 20, 2012, I married the love of my life. As my beautiful bride walked down the aisle I was absolutely beaming. I thought to myself, “She’s perfect, thank you Lord.” Marriage is an incredible blessing and I truly feel like a man who has received favor from the Lord and found a treasure (Proverbs 18:22). But in the midst of the joys and blessings marriage does have its challenges. Most of what happens after you put those rings on is what you make it. For my bride and I it has only been about three months since saying “I do,” but God has already been teaching us so much. I thought I had already learned many of these lessons, but I have come to find God still has so much more to teach me concerning these principles. These are some of the lessons I am learning as a newlywed:

Communication
It should go without saying, but communication is one of the keys to marriage. Let me revise that—clear communication is key to a healthy marriage. We are always communicating something even if we are not speaking. Silence can communicate tremendously. Whether it is with words or actions, I must seek to communicate clearly with my spouse. All problems seem to stem from communication problems. If there are issues in a marriage, then they are probably tied to communication issues. Similarly, if there are tensions in life then there is probably a lack of communication with God. I have definitely learned just how easy it is to miscommunicate. That is why we must seek to understand one another in patience and love. I must speak honestly and candidly with my wife. It is not always easy, but we have to keep the lines of communication open and the environment safe for full disclosure.

Expectations
Attached to communication are expectations. Everyone has expectations. But not everyone’s are the same, and certainly not every spouse knows their mate’s perfectly. Disappointment comes from unmet expectations. When I have an unmet expectation it is not because my wife does not want to meet that expectation. The problem is that she did not do what I was expecting. So I must express all of my expectations if they are to be met, and she likewise. Furthermore, we must listen carefully to the needs of each other, seeking to serve and please our mate. At the same time, we cannot expect our spouse to completely fulfill us. Only God can do that! Nevertheless, whether in finances, parenting or sex, we all have expectations. Talk about them!

Boundaries
I will be honest, this has probably been one of the hardest areas for me because I am involved in ministry and I am such a task-oriented person. But when I got married, marriage became my first priority and main ministry. There have to be times when I say “no” to other people and other tasks because I love my wife more. This means setting boundaries. I must set boundaries for work, ministry and even other family members. In marriage, I am no longer my own, but I belong to my spouse and she to me. Two have become one—“a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and two are united into one” (Genesis 2:24). The past has been left behind, and something new has been created. Now it must be cherished and protected.

Spirituality
The last and most important lesson that God is continuing to teach me in my marriage is that my relationship with my wife is totally connected with and reflective of my relationship with Jesus Christ. This last point of spirituality ties all the other points together. I know that when my prayer and devotional life is lacking, my marriage is also going to suffer. Conversely, when I am closest to the Lord, I am also the closest to my wife. If someone was to tell me they were having marital issues, the first question I would ask is, “How is your relationship with the Lord?” The Bible teaches to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). And as a husband, I am supposed to love my wife “just as Christ loved the church” and gave up his life for her (Ephesians 5:25). But how can I truly love my wife like Christ commands without first truly knowing and loving Christ?

When you are having communication problems, start with communicating with your Heavenly Father. Pray. When you have an argument with your spouse, pray and ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance. When you are stressed out and have “no time” for your marriage, pray and give all your burdens to God. May Christ be the Lord of your marriage. May he be the Center, Sustainer, Provider and Leader. He has, after all, written the greatest love story ever told. Have a blessed marriage!

Finley can be reached at: [email protected]

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