I was recently asked; “what marriage advice would you give to newlyweds?”
That’s a good question … following are some things I would share with newlyweds (and with all married couples).
1- First off, (this may sound counter-intuitive) but I’d gently explain to newlyweds that “those who marry will face trouble” (1 Cor.7:28b). Certainly the “intoxicated” season of being a newlywed brings a unique joy and sensory experiences, but “stuff happens” … and life tends to sober a person, and couple, up.
2- I’d encourage couples to understand the importance of understanding God’s design for marriage. People will invest much in learning about parenting, a career, or a hobby. But often, after getting married, couples inordinately focus on kids-jobs-finances. And this can inhibit the ongoing exploration of the incredible miracle and mystery of “two becoming one” (Matthew 19:5).
3- I’d encourage newlyweds to take seriously the command to “leave and cleave” (Genesis 2:24). The husband and wife should evaluate and determine to keep all the good things from each of their families of origin—and not bring the not-so-good things into their marriage.
4- I’d challenge couples to invest in knowing and understanding themselves (1 Tim.4:16). When a bride/groom truly gets that they are made in the image of a good God (Genesis 1:27). And when they step into their true identity as a beloved son or daughter, they can better reflect and reveal God’s love, grace, plurality, and goodness to their spouse (and others). God’s original design for marriage is so amazing and it involves living out values that include equality, mutuality, and couples walking together as “one”.
5- I’d encourage couples to invest in healing (Christ-centered counseling). “In the abundance of counselors there is much wisdom” (Proverbs 11:14b). Every person has hurts and the sooner these are addressed and healed, the more fully a spouse can bring a passionate life-giving heart to their spouse.
6- I’d encourage couples to choose a life-style that is grounded in grace and forgiveness. A simple two-word definition of marriage is “inexhaustible forgiveness”. Couples who default to forgiveness, and who live out marriage where “it’s not all about me” tend to live more blessed and joy filled lives. Remember, forgiveness begins with a decision. It includes asking a spouse for forgiveness for things you did (commission); as well as asking a spouse for forgiveness for things you failed to do (omission). Of course, learning to forgive yourself is a key to understanding and living out forgiveness.
7- Practically, when making decisions, I’d encourage couples to begin everything with God. Always first I.O.T.L. (inquire of the Lord). Ask for His heart and wisdom (James 1:5). Ask God to help you grow in seeing your spouse in the ways He sees him or her. I would also challenge couples to make decisions together in “unity”. First I.O.T.L. and wait until you both have ‘green-lights’ from God before pulling the trigger on decisions. In marriage, unity should always trump disunity.
8- I’d encourage newlyweds to have regular ‘DOF’ days (Days of Fun). Plan times (weekly, bi-weekly, at least monthly) with the goal of totally focusing on and enjoying each other. Share your dreams, desires, and together pray for your life and marriage. Healthy, joy-filled, life-giving marriages have so much untapped kingdom advancing potential.
9- I’d encourage couples to celebrate marital oneness in Spirit- Soul- and Body. Briefly, Spirit oneness—is an invitation to always be growing in understanding your true identity, and growing in reflecting and revealing God to your spouse. Soul oneness— includes growing in intimacy- in knowing and being fully known. Body oneness—includes understanding each other’s bodies and both experiencing God’s one-of-a-kind gift of being “naked and not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). This should include regularly experiencing the amazing pleasure of orgasms (remember orgasms were God’s idea). As a side, my experience is couples who enjoy intimacy, as well as experience great orgasms, are couples who understand the importance of investing in ‘soul-gasms’ (smile)
10- Back to my first point regarding the “intoxicated” stage for newlyweds. By God’s grace, after 38+ years of marriage, figuratively speaking I am still “intoxicated” with my bride. It has taken a huge investment of time- energy- passion- and resources. It has included saying “yes” to God and marriage, and saying “no” to many good things. But looking back, making marriage a top priority has been soo worth it.
In ways a newlywed could never comprehend, our marital oneness is still “intoxicating” as we continue to grow in knowing God. And as we grow in knowing, and being known, by each other. Figuratively speaking, our intoxication is no longer the kind a person might get from a cheap bottle of Two-Buck-Chuck. Instead, our intoxication is the kind a person gets from enjoying an expensive bottle of French champagne like Dom Perignon. But a good wine, like a good marriage, takes time and must be cared for. My closing challenge to newlyweds (to all married couples) is do whatever it takes—invest the passion, time, and resources to advance in intimacy with God and your spouse. You have no idea all God has designed for you and your marriage.
I find it interesting that the only time God speaks to the couple in Song of Solomon—the erotic love poem in the Bible—He declares; “Eat, friends; Drink, imbibe deeply, O lovers” (Song of Solomon 5:1b)
REAL LIFE Challenge:
Plan a date with your spouse, review the ten points above. Soberly evaluate each one and together develop a marriage plan. Schedule regular times (maybe on every anniversary) to review and re-evaluate what you agreed on.