“Oh, they say when you marry in June you’re a bride all your life,
and the bridegroom who marries in June gets a sweet-heart for a wife."
- “June Bride” from the movie “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”
Historically, in American culture, June has been the most popular month for weddings; perhaps because the month of June derives its name from Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage. During the Renaissance times, people took annual baths (yeah gross) which usually fell in late May or June, solidifying the traditional belief that June brides still smelled relatively fresh. And just to be safe, brides began to carry a bouquet of flowers to hide their body odor. Hence the custom of carrying a bouquet when walking down the aisle! (More info found at the Public Library).
In modern times, we also go through great lengths and extra efforts in order to prepare ourselves for our BIG DAY! Diets, classes, food tasting, counseling, traveling to the ends of the earth for that perfect dress... There is much preparation to be done. Why? Because we want our day to be special and we want our pictures and memories to look good! Though these ideals are commendable, I wonder, however, do you think we might be putting too much emphasis on preparing for weddings and not for marriage?
Whatever our concerns - either the year, the date or the man- there are more vital preparations we must consider before walking down the isle... in June or any other month.
1. How’s My Prayer Life?
Look, if you're going to be married, you need access to spiritual help, 24-7. I'm not saying this to be a downer or to sound negative, but marriage doesn't come with a hand book. Life doesn't come with a hand book, and please believe me when I say this: Marriage is not an extension of dating! I feel like I've said that before, so if you weren't paying attention in past posts, please make note of this now. Marriage is a life, a mission and a ministry and you cannot depend on yourself to navigate through terrain that you did not create.
Marriage is an existence that comes directly from the heart of God
(Mark 10:9). He was pleased to create it and He is pleased to bestow such a blessing and gift to us, so we need to be pleased to include Him in on it. Look, there will be things about yourself that surface only once you are married: things that will shock and surprise you! There will be things about your Hubbs, as well, that the two of you will have to accept and grow from, where in dating, it wasn't an issue because it wasn't revealed.
I remember a conversation my brother and I had after his marriage, 2 years ago. He told me, "Trina, I kind-a thought being a good boyfriend would make me a good husband, but I'm seeing things in me I didn't know about before. It's making me go to God more because I want to grow from these weak areas".
I was definitely able to relate to him. Once I got married, I realized that maybe what was masked as "strong willed" was actually pride I never knew I had. Our first year of marriage was a breeze, but by the end of year two, I began to see that I was immature in a lot of areas. I started questioning my reactions to certain things: what is making me so stubborn all of a sudden? Why am I having such a hard time listening to Jarrett when I'm not in agreement with him? Why am I so annoyed when he asks me to work in the other room when he's trying to sleep? What is it that's making me dig my heels in, even though I claim to trust his vision?
I was so easy-going in dating... maybe because we both went to separate homes at the end of the night. But sharing an existence with someone can be challenging and these challenges have a way of surfacing character flaws in us and require prayer for correction, growth and strength.
Do you have a prayer life? Do you know how to seek God for yourself and for others? We don’t have to be ashamed or feel guilty or be in trouble to pray. We can speak our hearts, with full assurance that Jesus hears us and that He desires to make us more mature so that our relationship will become more mature. Owning our weaknesses to ourselves, instead of excusing them or ignoring them, helps to motivate our prayer life by seeking God to strengthen us and teach us. Honesty must always begin with us. It's unproductive to focus on issues we have with our spouse if we are unwilling to focus on issues we have in our own hearts. It's just a reality check that we all need, from time to time. So, as we pray for our blessings, promotions, babies and new homes, we should also be praying for wisdom, self-control, more patience and understanding. We can build on the foundation of the Lord’s compassion and make better choices that will equip us to love our husbands better and live our lives in full maturity and excellence.
2. Am I Keeping My Promises?
In our dating relationships we paint the sky pink with promises. We make declarations that, when we get married, "I'm going to cook and clean for him every day. We're going to have sex every night. I will never nag him. I will never argue with him in public. We will always watch his favorite games. I will never choose my friends over him. We will always talk things through. I will never let the sun go down while I'm still angry".... Awwwww, such sweet naiveté! !
During our dating relationship, I would attempt to solve conflict by promising Jarret that I would never do certain things again. I was sincere and just hopeful to not ruin his impression of me. I wanted to always be seen as his sweet girlfriend and I didn't want him to ever feel as if I didn't care about his feelings and concerns. Once we got married, however, I found myself doing the same thing- making promises, I meant to keep. Oooops! I had no idea that I was capable of forgetting so much! The same was true for him: he'd forget to wipe the tooth paste out the sink or straighten up the bed after a nap. He'd promise to wash out is lunch box at work so that, 5 hours later, it wasn't smelling up the kitchen when he came home. I'd promise not to wash the colored and the white clothes together (I don't get it- what's the big deal?) and then forget or turn out the light when I leave a room (I still have issues remembering this). We each kept promising and then forgetting and although I would get annoyed with him, I had to own up to the fact that I was also breaking promises.
We have to be real with ourselves if we hope to be taken seriously by our husbands, and others, for that matter. The truth is, it's going to take me more than 30 min to get ready for church, so if I'm planning on cooking breakfast, I need to be responsible and get up earlier. If I'm going to use his razors, I need to put them back; If I tell him I'll be out with my friends until 9, then I shouldn't perpetually be walking through the door at 10:30 with a bunch of lame excuses. Yes, he will mess up, too, but that doesn't give me the go-ahead to break my promises. So, instead of overpromising, I’ve learned to acknowledge my specific shortcomings and to take better action, not lip service, on how to improve; for his sake, as well as for mine. Integrity is everything and trust is built on consistent honesty. We all make mistakes, but it's better to work on improvement rather than just flippantly promising to not do it again.
3. Am I Willing to Make a Home?
I'm going to be very real with you: unless you are fortunate enough to afford a 24-hour live in maid, a personal chef, a house manager, a driver and a live-in nanny... realize that these duties will become part of your daily life, in addition to your nine-to-five.
According to the US Department of Labor, prior to the 1950's, women were expected to be home makers, only. Their responsibility was keeping a clean home, raising babies and maybe enjoying a game of parcheesi with the neighboring wives. Today, however, 71% of American families operate with 2 incomes. We know it's necessary, especially if we desire to have children, which is why we get those degrees, keep our heads up or down for promotions or start our own business. Yet, with the load of work we do for Uncle Sam, keep in mind that the real job happens when you enter your house for the evening.
If you've ever heard it said, it's so true, "a woman's work is never done". It's NEVER DONE! But many of us are un-prepared for that reality when we walk down the isle. We say, "I do", not honestly knowing that what we are really saying is "I do" understand that you don't know how to fold clothes properly, so I will have to go behind you and fix it. "I do" understand that you know nothing about snotty noses or dirty diapers, so I will have to do it most of the time. "I do" realize that you're culinary expertise consists of hotdogs and chicken wings, so I will need to be sure I am creating healthy meals for you so that you do not suffer heart failure before you are 40. "I do" know that you are more than likely incapable of multitasking, so I will have to become a master of wearing several hats each day and still be "in the mood" come 10pm. "I do" agree to not take my frustrations out on you when you come home, shower and turn on the TV, while I am cooking, doing laundry and trying to wash my hair all at the same time, after having just breast fed our new born baby and had to grind on my job all day. "I do" accept the fact that, after all my work is done and you feel blessed to have me as your wife, you will never understand what it's like to be a woman".
Those are the "I do's" that you're really agreeing to. Don't get overwhelmed! You're a woman... you can do it!
Listen, we work hard, but marriage will tripple- maybe even quadroople- all responsibilities we had as single women. If you don't believe me, ask your mother. She'll tell you. I'm not lying. The wedding day is focused on the Bride, so please soak it up, because after your special day and the Honeymoon week are over, reality will definitely check in and it will fade away all the lace and glittery ambiance that we Brides swoon over. Life is messy and married life is full of unglamorous tasks. I just want to prepare us for reality. However, what I'm not saying is that you have all the home-life responsibilities on your shoulders. Absolutely not! There should be shared tasks, expectations and harmonious efforts that you both should operate in, together. If you're both working outside of the home, you should both be working inside of the home. It's up to each individual couple to determine shared responsibilities and these days, many men are open to domestic tasks, which is a good thing! But, what I am saying, honey, is that there will most definitely be days when you feel as if you are carrying the larger and unfair load of domestic duties. It's true and it's something to consider.
It's Eve's fault, really. According to scripture, her disobedience resulted in pain- not just for herself, but for every woman who comes after her. Ladies, it's painful to run a house. There is gratitude, but it's not always expressed in ways we deserve. There is love, but it's not always provided how we expect it to come. But understand that your toil is not in vain and your service of love will be a crown of glory for your husband (Proverbs 12:4). I realize this section is anti-feminist, but it's real and too many of us are under the delusion that marriage will serve to serve us. Listen, Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty and the Best... that's not real. Being a wife of noble character, as scripture puts it, requires selfless devotion, which, in a nutshell, is time consuming, day consuming and life consuming. But, girl, you can do it! And you must, because, as women, we are the gatekeepers to our homes and the sustainer of the hearts of those within our homes. We have a tremendous responsibility to love well, which involves serving well. So be sure to consider this very real reality of marriage.
4. Am I Digging into Scripture so that I Understand God's Instructions?
Far too many of us think we know God. We assume we are keeping Him first because we say we are. Our mothers and Grandmothers remind us to do so, "Keep God first", they tell us; our response is always, "I will". But are we, really?
I must argue that if you are not reading your scriptures routinely... meaning, if you are not in the Bible, reading different chapters and praying over what you are reading on a regular basis, then you are most definitely not keeping God first. How can you, if you don't know what He is saying or instructing you to do? Scripture provides true wisdom and insight for life and marital relationships. It has all the answers required for pleasing God in our lives and, as my mother has reminded me throughout my whole life: "If you put God first, He'll bless you".
Unfortunately, at best, most of us only rely on vaguely recalling what we've heard in passing through someone else's perspective, which can sometimes alter our own. Knowing God personally requires personal action. You have to search for Him yourself. What exactly does this mean? Well, it means to get your Bible or downloaded app, find a chair, sit in it, read some verses, meditate on what you learned and then ask God to help you live out His instructions. These are the steps to growing close to the Lord. Do your own reading and searching. Spend time going through the Bible so that you can truly understand what unconditional love and godly relationships look like. How can you possibly know if you are meeting spiritual expectations if you are unaware of what those expectations are? Listen, marriage and loving are spiritual virtues, so you need to be Spirit led in order to excel in any of the areas we've discussed today. Give the Lord the opportunity to teach and mold you into the woman, wife and mother that He has purposed for you to be. You won't become that person outside of Him.
As the wedding season approaches us and we are getting ready to attend celebrations for family and friends and possibly even for ourselves, lets not vainly walk down the isle clueless. Let's be women who are driven by wisdom- who desire to fully delve into marriage with our hearts and our heads in tact. Your future will thank you for it; so will your husband and so will your future self!
Blessings for your Hearts and over your marriages!
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