Unsolicited Marriage Advice From A Non-Expert

When you go through a major life change, there is no shortage of “expert” advice whether it be from friends, family, coworkers, or the ever-popular Google search. I think it’s part of the fine print – “Dear Kelcey: In light of the recent change to your lifestyle, you may now anticipate an influx of advice and opinions.” It’s not a bad thing – I just think it’s others’ way of helping you learn from their experiences and re-live them from their new perspective. Planning for your marriage is certainly no exception.

Good Intentions; Not Great Advice

When we got married, we were given a lot of advice. Like, a lot! Some of it was great and we took it to heart, and some of it, though it was well-intended, was frankly really quite terrible. Those are the instances where you just smile and nod politely until the moment passes. At work, we had a little shower for a coworker who was recently married. We all took turns going around the circle and imparting words of wisdom to the bride to be. Same rule applies: some of it was really touching and thoughtful, and some of it made me squirm.

Marriage: Two Lives Becoming One

There are a lot of people I care about getting married in 2018 (this was originally posted on OkieSunshine, the original 🙃). Each are planning their idea of a perfect wedding day; sending out invitations, picking out tuxes and gowns, cake sampling, “sweating for the wedding,” and everything else that goes along with their big day. Not only that, they are trying to figure out what happens the day after their wedding – what real life will look like. They’re navigating questions like where they will live, what household items they need, what will their job situation look like, how will we do thing called life together….just like we did 7 years ago.

What To Expect Beyond "I Do". Marriage Advice for Real Couples
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So now, here are a few things I’ve learned that I wish to share…

Put God First.

If you’re like me, you have heard this countless times throughout your life. You’ve probably heard it so many times, that sometimes it’s hard not to smile and nod through it. You know that’s what you’re supposed to do, but what does that really mean and how do you do it? For the first few years of our marriage, I thought that we were doing this. We were happy. We enjoyed sharing a home. We always had fun together. We would go to services Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night (when work didn’t interfere…I’ll touch more on that in a minute). We were being hospitable. We were trying to make wise decisions. We weren’t doing “bad” things. Those things are all good, but they do not always indicate that your priorities are in order. You know what we weren’t doing? Praying together. We’d have time to watch multiple episodes of a TV show, but not read our Bibles. We weren’t very involved with our local congregation; it was more of a “hi / bye” thing. We were facing trial after trial and trying to figure out how WE could fix it, instead of remembering that God is in control. I’ll draw you a picture…

This is what you are supposed to do. God is first. As you each grow closer to God, you grow closer to one another. As you grow closer to each other, you grow closer to God.

good triangle

This is more what I feel like I were doing (I won’t speak for CJ…that’s why his line is nice 😊 ).

bad triangle

I was learning how to be a wife and put someone else’s wants, needs, and desires above my own (which didn’t always happen). I would go through phases of really wanting to be a strong Christian, but it wouldn’t last long or I wouldn’t take action to better myself. At this time in our lives, I was in a really horrible job environment. Like, really horrible. Which is weird because I loved what I did! I don’t think I am to blame for all of it, but now looking back, I wonder how much of it I brought on myself because I wasn’t acting like the person I knew I should be and kept my priorities in line.

Part of keeping your priorities in line also includes saying “no” when appropriate. This can be especially challenging for wives and moms, but it is so important!

So, remember that putting God first takes intentional action and is not just checking off your attendance or being a “good” person. If you are not purposefully seeking Him in all things, keeping Him at the forefront of your mind, and studying the Bible on a regular basis…you aren’t doing putting Him first. Until you do, your marriage cannot be all that He intended it to be.

Hot Hot Hot It Is Always Not.

With all of these soon-to-be married couples, I can’t help but be a little jealous in a reminiscent sort of way. Sometimes I find myself saying “remember when we were like that…” or “remember when you used to…”

There is something very special about your relationship before you are married; all of the anticipation, excitement, and unknowns. There are parts of that relationship that will never be the same after you are married. But, that isn’t a bad thing…it’s just reality. For example, I used to get “Good morning, beautiful” texts in the morning before class. Now, I get a playful “go get’em” pat as I walk out the door. I used to pace the floor and peek out the window (being ever so careful to not get caught peeking out the window) whenever I knew he was coming over to pick me up. Now, those sweaty butterflies have been replaced by me eagerly listening for the sound of his car door in the drive as I put away dishes. We used to daydream about getting to spend every night together cuddling until we fell asleep. Now, that lasts a few minutes and then it’s a quick goodnight kiss before we roll over. Sometimes we play and say “I still love you” as we roll and retreat to our own sides of the bed.

In some ways, I miss the pre-married versions of us, and from talking with some older ladies, I think I always will in some sense. But as we age together, I discover more and more amazing things about him and love him more today than I did the day I became his bride.

…At Least He Doesn’t Snore.

When you live with a person, you get to know them on a whole new level. You’ll learn how many times they hit the snooze button, if they shed like a dog or not, and if they snore like a freight train. CJ, bless his heart, is one of the most forgetful people I know. Honestly, sometimes it really frustrates me and I feel like saying “how could you forget that?! You’re 30 years old!” So, I’ve taken on the role of the “master remember of all the things.” Then when he does remember, it’s like an unexpected Christmas present! I’ve also learned that he doesn’t like the corner of his sheet tucked in. I’m not really sure how the tallest person in our relationship (me) likes it tucked it and CJ can’t even reach the corner, but goodness knows if it’s tucked he’s gonna kick it out! He doesn’t understand why we even make the bed in the first place, but I finally convinced him that “adults make their beds” (even though I know he only does it to make me happy). He’s learned that I talk (or most often than not, giggle) in my sleep nearly every night and that I like the sound of the dishwasher. He’s learned that my reset button is a long and tight hug and that clutter is my arch enemy.

But on a more endearing note, I’ve learned that he can fix just about anything armed with a few tools and YouTube. Reese’s Trees are the way to his heart (and Dr Pepper, Cracker Barrel, brisket…ok, food in general). He is a rule follower. He wholeheartedly wants what is best for the girls and I above what is best or convenient for him. He is the most genuine and best person I know.

Once you’re married, you will start learning these things about each other, and it will continue as you go through life together.

Marriage Is Not A Disney Movie.

I told someone once that dating/marriage isn’t like a fairy tale from a Disney movie, and they got really upset and said how that was “disappointing.” There are definite moments when it feels like that, but no, every day, 24/7 is not a fairy tale. I think it’s best if I bust that bubble right now because if you go into marriage with that as your expectation, you will quickly find yourself upset and disappointed when real life sets in.

Ask Permission.

I’m thinking out of everything, that this will be the least popular piece of advice. It is Biblical for the wife to submit to her husband. That rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but if your husband is acting like the man God wants him to be, then submitting to him is much less of an issue and more of a pleasure. Submission doesn’t mean not having an opinion and rolling over every time he says something. Submission is letting him lead your family with honor.

I ask CJ’s permission before I plan to do anything and it’s not because he has to “OK” my every move or because he’s a control freak. I ask his permission out of respect and as a courtesy to him. I ask permission before I make plans with a friend for the evening. We ask each other before spending money outside of the normal day-to-day expenses. It really doesn’t seem weird to me. It doesn’t mean that I’m any less valuable than he is, or vice versa, but it keeps us on the same page and working as a team.

The Gift Of Financial Peace.

End of story – take it. Take it now.

Oh, you wanted more detail? Ok, read about why you should take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course in this post.

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So there you have it…unsolicited marriage advice from yours truly. I hope that something I said was helpful and that you will be able to use it in your marriage. If you are getting married, or seriously considering it, think long and hard about the commitment you’re making. But know that you are embarking on one of the best and most special adventures ever with the person you love most.

22Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:22-33

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