Greetings dear readers! Today, we delve into the beautiful complexities of the first years of marriage – a journey my spouse and I embarked upon not too long ago, under the loving gaze of our Lord Jesus. Both devout followers, we share a love for his teachings, a mutual Scandinavian heritage, a hunger for family expansion, and a joy for hospitality. Yet, we quickly discovered that our shared values were not enough to deter the inevitable bumps on our matrimonial journey.
The challenges we encountered were not the external ones we had anticipated – financial struggles, health issues, or career dilemmas – but rather, they were our own individual insecurities and limitations. Through reflection and faith, we identified three key principles that have nurtured our journey, making the bumps smoother and fueling our marital joy with the spirit of Christ.
1. Allow God to Set the Standard of ‘Normal’
Every individual is unique, shaped by different upbringings and experiences. I, for example, come from a large family of first cousins and a childhood surrounded by infants and toddlers. My husband, on the other hand, grew up with only four cousins and had very little exposure to young children. This painted different pictures of ‘normal’ for each of us.
We’ve learned that these differences can either enrich our marriage or pose challenges if we allow our pasts to dictate the norms for our shared future. Hence, we sought guidance from the only true authority on life and marriage – the Scriptures. In Timothy 3:16–17, we’re reminded that all Scripture is breathed out by God, designed to guide us toward a life of righteousness and equip us for every good work.
So, as we navigate the early years of marriage, we must permit the word of God to redefine normal for us. In doing so, we foster a balance in our union, with the wife graciously accepting her husband’s leadership, reflecting the relationship between Christ and his church (Ephesians 5:22–25).
As a young girl, my mother often reminded me to choose a husband whose life was guided by God’s word, and that advice has never been more pertinent. If God’s word is your compass – not your friends, family traditions, media, or societal norms – you’ll find a sturdy foundation to weather any storm.
2. Stay in Tune with the Spirit
As Paul wrote to the Galatians, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:25–26). It’s crucial to recognize that marriage, while a union, does not erase individual shortcomings. It’s all too easy for spouses to fall into the trap of conceit, envy, and provocation.
In our society, it’s often suggested that men and women are on separate teams, leading to competition. However, in the sanctity of marriage, we join a new team altogether – our own. It’s a blessing to share joys and burdens alike. The Spirit of God unites us, making us one flesh (Matthew 19:5–6).
To walk in step with the Spirit, it’s essential to regularly confess our sins and set our minds on the teachings of Christ. By doing so, we can harmoniously maintain our unity and handle challenges with grace.
3. Share Your Journey with Others
Early in our marriage, we found joy in becoming members of our local church and hosting a small group in our home. While our primary motivation wasn’t to strengthen our marriage, this act of sharing our lives with others unknowingly shaped the foundations of our shared life.
A common misconception among young families is that hospitality can be deferred until ‘the right time.’ In reality, hospitable individuals often demonstrate their generosity regardless of their circumstances – be it space, finances, or time. Inviting others into your home, your thoughts, and your life fosters an intimate connection in an increasingly disconnected world.
By sharing your home and yourselves through acts of hospitality, you’re not robbing your family of time or resources; instead, you’re enriching your familial bonds. A family that’s rooted in sharing God’s love through practical acts of kindness creates a lasting legacy of joy and resilience.
So, welcome others into your homes and your lives, “as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7). Let your home and family not just be private, but a beacon of God’s love. Remember, a couple rooted in God’s teachings and walking in the Spirit will always find joy in sharing their blessings with others. Open your hearts and homes, and let the world taste the goodness of Christ through your lives.