Today is my 13th wedding anniversary! My husband and I got married at the age of 22, right after college (I’ll let you do the math at how old I am). 22 years old – we were little babies getting married. In this culture and society, where people are getting married later and having kids later, people thought we were nuts. “What’s the rush?” “What if you meet someone else now that you’re out in the real world?” But, when you follow God’s plan for you and keep God first, at the center of your life and of your relationship, there is no “rush” or “mistake”. God reveals His perfect plan and timing for you and your spouse.
My husband and I met when we were 5 years old. His family moved to the neighboring town and his dad was hired to be a youth pastor and associate pastor at the church my family attended. So, we really don’t have any memories of life without each other. We went through Sunday School together, Youth Group, and even though we went to different schools we found time to hang out outside of the church as well. Fast forward to junior year of high school and we went to each other’s proms and eventually started dating that summer. We made it through different colleges (an hour apart) and got married the summer after graduation – Labor Day weekend 2007.
And here we are 13 years later. We endured 5 moves, 3 kids, deaths in the family, traumatic events, new jobs, success, failure…you name it we’ve been through it…together. “Together” is the keyword here. The only way we’ve survived any of the past 13 years is because we have focused our lives on God and seeking Him first. He has made us better people, better spouses, better communicators, and better parents. But we wouldn’t be the parents we are today if we didn’t keep Him at the center of our own lives and marriage.
Focus On The Family has some great tips on how to build a successful, Christ-centered marriage.
1. God First: Commitment
“Commitment means putting your spouse’s needs above your own. Studies show that the best indicator of marital well-being is how well each partner feels his or her needs are being met. I’ve found that when I focus only on my needs and forget about my wife, I tend to get irritated and disappointed. I may even begin to imagine how much better off I’d be with a different wife. On the other hand, I feel satisfied when I focus on my wife’s needs and how I can creatively meet them.” (Source) Bingo. If we are both focused on putting our spouse’s needs first then both of our needs are always met as a result.
“Like conflict resolution, communication is a learned skill — and it’s often hard work. Time must be reserved for meaningful conversations. Taking walks and going out for dinner are conversation inducers that keep love alive.” (Source) Communication is KEY. When my hubby and I were in college and doing “long-distance” we only had the phone. And AOL Instant Messenger (HA!). The only way we could communicate our needs was by talking openly and frequently. We talked about everything that we were feeling whether it was joyful, hard, sad, painful, funny, etc. Talking often and honestly is the best way to communicate.
“Marriage especially takes time and care to become really beautiful. That means learning patience…When you put two people — any two — in the same house, you’re going to have irritations and annoyances. There are times when I think God designed marriage just to teach me patience.” (Source) Truth. My husband does not like the way I squeeze my toothpaste tube. And I don’t like his mounds of clutter. But it is important to remember nobody is perfect. We all have quirks and flaws. Patience and grace allow us to look past those annoyances. And embrace one another’s uniqueness.
4. God First: Strong Beliefs
“Research shows that couples with strong religious beliefs are far more likely to stay together than those without them. It’s the shared morals and values that hold a husband and wife together. This solid foundation is a fortress against the storms of life.” (Source) God first. Marriage second. Kids third. Set yourselves up for success and a happy marriage!