I can't believe it. I have been married to my beautiful bride, Noelle for over a year now. I know we fall into the "newlywed" category, but it feels like we've been married for years!
I won't lie and say it's been the easiest year, but I will say it's been life-changing. This past year has presented hefty challenges and there have been many hard lessons - lessons I'm still learning, but this is how the Lord refines us, isn't it? It is intriguing to me how God uses marriage to do major heart work. Not only do I have a best friend for life, but I get to wake up to a mirror day after day. Believe you me - it's not always easy, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I love how Noelle is honest with me. I love when I screw up, she's the one to let me know. I thought since I'm classified as newly married, I would voice my perspective on the recipe for a successful, lasting marriage. Here are 5 tips for making your marriage last.
- Make yourself available: I was 30yrs old when I got married, so it's fairly easy to fall back into the rut of a single 30yr old. Obviously, when you become a Christian, it's about laying your life down for God. Well, as we lay our lives down for Jesus, you should also do the same for your bride.
- Become a Master at serving: Foot rub? Back rub? Take out the trash? Serve, serve and continue to serve when you think you've served enough. It's not easy, but leading a marriage is all about serving.
- Affirm, affirm & affirm some more: I learned in the first weeks of being married that affirmation is key in communicating value. It's important to me, but it speaks volumes to Noelle. If I start the day out with, "Noelle, you are so beautiful," there is a good chance it would make her day. It would definitely put a smile on her face.
- Be the spiritual leader: I'm being somewhat vulnerable sharing this one. As the man and head, you must be the spiritual leader of your marriage. I haven't done a great job of leading our marriage in this area and need to step it up. Being married to a pastor, it's easy to let things ride and get comfortable. I've been recently convicted of this so that's why I'm including it in my top 5.
- Rest: When you date, you should balance your personal/social life with your dating relationship. This doesn't end when you get married. In fact, it's just as important from my perspective. Stay engaged with your friends - together and separately! But make sure you have specific times set aside for just you and your spouse. And of course, rest. Noelle and I got married and then found ourselves completely consumed by work. We were both working full-time jobs and then we were heavily involved in church activities. This is not a good start to a marriage. We could ride it out for a season, but quickly realized this was not a recipe for success. The Bible is very clear on this matter. In fact, the Bible mentions the word sabbath 151 times. Do you remember the ten commandments?
In retrospect, as I sit here and blog these "practical tips" for the world to see, I feel as though I'm writing my own accountability plan. Knowing some of my closer friends will make comments in jest, I'm excited to look back at this blog to reflect - to see what was important to me in my early years of marriage. My prayer is that I will wake up one morning, years from now, look into my mirror and see nothing but smiles.