My wedding shoot taken by Erin L. Hubbs, 2013
So, You're getting married? You have the ring that you've been waiting so patiently for... you've got your girls all lined up, your family behind you in support, the date, the honeymoon plans and the expectations of every Bride that ever came before you. You're in love. You're excited. You're ready!
But wait... are you REALLY ready???
Before I was married, I thought I knew a thing or two about marriage. My parents are ministers and have a beautiful marriage that I've had the privilege of observing over my lifetime. I'm an avid reader, so I stocked up on all of Gary Chapman's literature, to help me navigate my decisions and my future. Jarrett was insistant that we participate in Pre-Marital conferences, even before we were engaged. So, yeah, once I had that ring on my finger, I figured I was prepared. Then I got married.
Marriage is one of the most beautiful existence that one can experience—but it will challenge everything you ever thought about yourself. It will bring to surface areas of your character that you were never aware of when you were single and it will position you to seek a wisdom beyond yourself. Yup... marriage is work, as they say. But most of the work consists on reshaping you!
Although I am thankful for my parent's wisdom and for accessible mentors that took Jarrett and I under their wings and have patiently guided us in God's principles, in order to build a harmonious and loving marriage, there are so many lessons that can't be covered over coffee or between the pages of a book. A two-hour conference won't be able to address every area of marriage or point you to every scripture that is needed to help you navigate towards healthy, harmonious love. But I can assure you that marriage, when done God's way, will mature into love that goes beyond mere happiness.
This is the first concern we must get over, "happiness"... because our purpose and concern for marriage should not be focused on such a self-centered goal. According to most research, more than 50 percent of people who "happily" say “I do” will not be sleeping in the same bed five years from their wedding day. This has been an astonishing reality in my social circle. Between 2011-2014, Jarrett and I attended 6 weddings, including our own. Today, only 2 out of those 6 marriages are still standing; this number includes our own marriage. So, that means, unfortunately, my husband and I have witnessed 4 different divorces in our 5 years of marriage. It breaks my heart. What happened?
I believe that most of the struggles and irrevocable differences that arise in so many marriages, secular and Christian a like, is the result of unawareness, lack of preparation and ultimately, an absence of God's presence. Most people jump into marriage with mentalities full of misconceptions, selfish ambitions and shaky spiritual foundations. But Marriage, although it can try your very soul, is unmistakably beautiful and profound and those who are willing to stretch and grow and mature- enduring every situation; weather happy or hurtful- will find the paradoxical euphoria of a thriving marriage, as God ordained.
Below, let's explore some aspects of marriage that every Bride-to-Be should guard her heart and her prayer life with.
1. Strive to Make Him Happy, Not Yourself
What's it like being married, you ask?
The truth? It's one big lesson on self-denial. Day in and day out, I find myself making choices that will either please me or please the one I vowed to cherish above all others- including myself. Sometimes, it's hard, for sure. Sometimes, I don't care about the budget we're supposed to be exercising, because those shoes are cuter than he could possibly understand. Sometimes, I don't want to go visit my in-laws, because I don't always feel included, so I'd rather relax in my own living room and paint my toes. Sometimes, I don't want to hear, "no", because I'm an adult and I want to do what I want to do. But these struggles (some petty and some serious) are always a reflection of what is in my heart and the Lord uses these situations to show me who I really am in light of who I am supposed to be.
Listen, Love is never about your agenda. Never forget that. And if you are hopeful to have a healthy and thriving relationship, we must learn to be women who are more interested in giving than in getting. Scripture says it best:
"…the righteous gives and does not hold back" - Proverbs 21:26.
When we insist on being served, being made happy, being attended to, being heard, being considered first, being respected first.... that's a result of simply refusing to be giving. And a lack of giving is simply an indication of a selfish heart. Remember, our marriage is not for our happy-ever-after.... but for our joint opportunity to thrive, together. As long as we focus on ourselves, then guess who gets left out? He does. And if he is being neglected, it's only a matter of time before you begin to get neglected. Marriage, done God's way, requires us to pour out of ourselves and into one another. When a husband denies he's selfish urges to please his wife, then the effect will result in his wife abandoning her selfish ambitions to pour into him. This results in both husband and wife being fulfilled and harmonious. I guarantee you, your husband deserves the same acknowledgment and consideration that you feel you deserve. So the beauty of marriage is that you both are giving to EACHOTHER- giving in, giving up, giving out. This results in marital bliss and joy- beyond mere happi