Oh, the Wedding Day. I will never forget how excited, nervous, and exhausted I was in anticipation of marrying Dave. We had planned a beautiful day, gone through pre-marital counseling, and prayed that God would bless our marriage. We were completely prepared, right? Well…in some ways, yes…in other ways, absolutely not.
I have so LOVED being married to Dave, and I am so thankful every day that he is my husband. Even so, there are things that I wish someone had told me on my wedding day. You know…the REAL stuff. The stuff they don’t talk about in pre-marital class at church. I wanted the “inside scoop”.
So, I was thinking. Now that I have been married for nearly 15 years, what would I say to myself as a bright-eyed, wonder-filled, gushy bride? What would I want that girl…the much younger me that thought she knew everything about marriage at the time…to know? That’s a hard one, but I am going to give it a try. Here are 3 things I wish I could’ve told myself on my wedding day:
1. Though this day may feel like the “perfect day” (oh, and it is in so many ways), there are NO perfect marriages simply because there are NO perfect people. But, take heart…we serve a perfect God who loves us.
This may come off as a bit of a “Debbie Downer”, but I think it takes the pressure off. This is by no means an excuse to have a bad marriage, but it does remind us that we can’t shake our finger at our spouse and claim to be perfect.
We just can’t.
All of us blow it from time to time. There are certain acts that are worse than others, but ALL of us make mistakes and require forgiveness. I love how Paul describes how God redeems our flaws in 2 Corinthians 12:9,
And He (God) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
My husband, Dave Willis, describes marriage this way…
I love that. I think we could’ve avoided a lot of arguments and unhealthy expectations early on if I had let this truth sink in…BOTH of us are IMPERFECT, but TOGETHER we are a PERFECT PAIR.
2. All of your wedding vows are important, but they ALL depend on your capacity to LOVE first.
We sure throw around the word “love” don’t we?
I love tacos. I love to do Zumba. I love that show “The Good Wife”.
We LOVE it, right?
When it comes to our spouse, love is so much deeper. I believe it all starts with loving God and allowing God to love us. The more we do this, the more we widen our capacity to love our spouse. 1 John 4:8 says this,He who does not love does not know God, for GOD IS LOVE.(emphasis mine)
If we are going to cherish each other, we have to love one another first. If we are going to forsake all others and be committed to each other in every way, we have to love each other first. If we are going to make it through sickness and times of want, we have to love each other first.
It always comes back to LOVE, and we must COMMIT ourselves to it.
3. There will be times when you must RESPECT each other when you don’t deserve it and LOVE each other when you are aren’t being very loving.
This is a tough one to swallow at times, but it is a marital commandment in the Bible as described in Ephesians 5:22-33. These verses tell wives to submit to, or respect, their husbands. It also says that husbands must love their wives and be willing to die for her. Verse 33 often gets skipped over, but I think it is extremely important in marriage. It says,
Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (emphasis mine)
So, what exactly does this mean? I read it as Paul, assuming he is speaking to men when writing this letter, is teaching the husbands that LOVE is a breeding ground for RESPECT. In marriage, you can’t have one without the other. It all starts with LOVE.
For more on this, check out “4 Keys to a More Secure Marriage”.
When a wife feels loved by her husband, she has greater respect for him. Likewise, when a husband feels respected by his wife, he desires to love her even more.
Since God clearly puts the husband in a place of leadership, as described in the verses prior to verse 33, He is showing that husbands need to LOVE first in order to LEAD their families effectively.
This all sounds fine and good until we are in bad moods, arguing over finances, feeling overwhelmed by commitments, and disciplining children. The stress of life tends to bring out the worst in us many times. But, when I read Ephesians 5:22-33, I don’t see any “ifs” or “buts”. I only see that husbands and wives are called to LOVE and RESPECT each other…even when we don’t deserve it.
Our go-to response should always be one of love and respect. Then, we will extinguish the fire caused by arguments, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings instead of pouring gasoline on it. We will bring out the best in one another instead of the very worst.
Whether you’re engaged or have been married for years, we can all benefit from these reminders. We should never stop trying to improve our marriage. It’s a life-changing, edifying journey and not a dead-end destination.
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