There is one thing I really began learning as an engaged woman that has built upon itself through our wedding, into the newlywed stage, every year past that (we are going on year 7 here), and has capped with becoming a mom.
Married couples need encouragement, not warnings.
Most warning-givers do not have ill intentions. They are trying to prepare the couple for what happened to them and others they know. But what these people often do not realize (and I think we have all played this role before) is that they are instilling fear and dread into the relationship instead of joy and hope.
Let me give you an example: a sweet couple is holding hands walking through church, just months after their wedding. A fellow church member walks by and stops them to say “Enjoy that now! It only lasts those first few years!”
This fellow member obviously means no harm. They see something that they remember and want to make note of it. In fact, this person is probably just “joking” (even though they really do mean it). I get that. But when it comes to something that our society has made so fragile, I don’t think jokes and premature warnings are what they need.
I recently met a woman at my nephews birthday party who was just two weeks away from her wedding. After talking to her about the wedding details and the honeymoon location for a little while, I said what I say to every engaged and newlywed person I meet: “Marriage is awesome. It just gets better and better!” She looked at me smiling but seemingly a little shocked and said “Thank you for saying that. So many people act like it’s going to be so hard!”
This broke my heart. Obviously, marriage is hard. I didn’t tell her “Marriage is awesome. It just gets easier and easier!” Nope, that would be a lie. Life happens and marriage takes work. But it does get better when we allow it to, and that’s exactly what I told her. I encouraged her to put Christ at the center and put each another before their self and they will do great. Because I firmly believe that.
Let’s not set up marriages to fail, friends. The world does a good enough job of that on it’s own. It doesn’t need our help. Instead, let’s lift up future husbands and wives so they can go into this union believing they will make it and knowing it will get better.
I’m not saying you can’t approach someone if you have a concern or help prepare those close to you for some of the things they might face in marriage that could cause conflict or hardship. But there is a way to go about it. Encouragement is not lying. It is just building up instead of making others fearful.
Let’s go back to the church member example. This could have gone a little differently…
Enter cute couple holding hands and Smiling sweetly at one another.
Church member: (sees rings) “How long have you two been married?”
Couple (together): 2 months!
Member: “That’s awesome! Keep holding hands and loving one another like you are doing. It helps keep a marriage strong!”
Use opportunities to build a couple up instead of putting negative thoughts into their head of their future.
Matt and I talked about this after the party and we both remember comments like the first church member made. While we didn’t think we would fail, it definitely put thoughts into our minds and made us sad that we might not always be as affectionate to one another as we were then. But instead of believing it, we decided to power through. Yea, our PDA has gone down quite a bit, but that guy still looks at me like I’m the only woman in the world. He holds my hand when our hands aren’t juggling a child and a diaper bag, and he still opens the car door for me on date nights.
Things change, but affection, love, and commitment don’t have to. Instead they can grow and mature.
I could write 20 more posts about encouraging future and new parents as well, but I’ll save that for another day. I think you could probably guess my thoughts on that one by now.
But please, remember to encourage. It is crucial to a marriage as it is building its foundation. Give advice, but do so in a way that lifts up and does not fill minds with worries and preconceived ideas of their marriage in the future.
Let’s raise up a new generation of marriages that thrive instead of fail and know that with The Lord on their side, as well as a great community and one another, they will stand strong.