We can’t believe it’s already been a year since our wedding day! A lot has happened since then, and God has been good and faithful to us. Here are some things we have learned in our first year of marriage:
1. You need God to love your spouse
Love is defined in the Bible as selfless, sacrificial, seeking the benefit of the other, giving, and patient. Jesus best demonstrated that kind of love in literally dying for His Bride – the Church. That type of love can only be present in a person who has a relationship with God and is walking in a daily close fellowship with Him.
And while spouses are usually not asked to literally die for their partners, married life demands us to sacrifice and serve the other, sometimes without receiving anything in return, like when your spouse is sick for example. To be able to give that kind of love to our spouses we need to first get it from spending time with God daily and asking Him to fill us with His Spirit so that His love can overflow from us to those around us. You can only offer love to your spouse if you are filled with it in the first place through your relationship with God. To never “run out of love” in your marriage, you both need to have a relationship with God.
It’s not enough to just go to church on Sundays and expect to be filled with the Holy Spirit for the entire week. God wants us to depend on Him daily. He wants us to come to Him daily during our quiet time so that He can fill us for the day, as we are praying and reading the Bible.
2. Carry each other’s burdens
Seasons of life change quite a bit. Sometimes the husband is quite busy and does not have as much time to help around the house. At other times, the wife has less time. In whatever season it is, being sensitive to the other’s schedule can go a long way.
If the wife has a big paper or presentation to work on, the husband can help out by making dinner, doing dishes, and other chores. At the same token, if the husband is working longer hours, the wife can help out by doing chores he would typically do. Or if the one of the spouses gets sick, then the other has to carry a larger load with taking care of all the cooking and other chores and also taking care of the sick person. In those hard times we need the power of the Holy Spirit to be able to pour out love on our spouse without receiving much in return.
A spouse sensitive to the time constraints of the other and helping out as needed is a more appreciated spouse. It also shows that you care. And in terms with helping with chores, it has the added benefit of keeping the house organized and cleaned.
3. Voice your expectations, preferences, and tastes
In order to avoid disappointment in the future, it is important we communicate to our spouses about our expectations, preferences, and tastes early on. This could mean talking about vacations and how you are going to spend your holidays. And it could also be talking about the small things, like telling your spouse that it’s important to you that the bed is made right when you get up.
At the same time, we don’t have to be too particular about the way things should be done around the house, as your spouse may have his or her own way of doing the dishes that works just as well as yours does.
Communication also means being able to listen to the things your spouse tells you. If they tell you what type of foods they enjoy or what type of present they might like for their birthday – take notes!
Not just communicate and listen to each other, but also do what they ask you to do. I, Kristina, learned that James prefers more practical gifts for special occasions and he likes to be surprised. I, on the other hand, don’t want practical gifts. I want the gift to say “I care about you and I know you enough to be able to choose something small that you will like.” I like small surprise, personal, not practical gifts. But with the bigger more expensive things I prefer to be the one making the choice, as I have a particular taste and I would hate to see an expensive gift go unused or have to exchange it, or give it to someone else.
4. Keep pursuing your spouse
Men have a tendency to work very hard to win the heart of their beloved during dating days. This is why they may often get dinner, ice cream, movie tickets, and roses. He may suffer through what seems to him a very boring movie. Or he may be more sensitive to listen to her.
But when the two get married, he may feel that he has already gotten what he set out for. And intentionally or unintentionally, he may become less vigilant in showing love to her, even though that is what she really needs. A husband and wife that are sensitive to each other’s needs experience a much stronger and pleasant marriage life.
Pursuing your spouse is not just doing “your part” in marriage, such as chores that you already agreed upon. It’s going beyond that to show your spouse that you love them. It’s putting some chocolate in his lunch bag when he is going to work that he is not expecting, or sending her a sweet message telling about how much you appreciate all she does to take care of herself and the house and the food she makes.
5. Try different activities your spouse likes
Everyone is unique. God made us that way. Some people like to be out in nature. Other people like to be inside. Some people like to ride roller coasters. Others like to stay on the ground at all costs and read a book instead. Some people like action-packed movies. Others prefer romantic movies. An infinite list could be made of all the different ways people like to occupy their free time.
Marriage is a give and take. Sometimes that means doing things you don’t particularly enjoy. Sometimes that means getting to do your favorite things. But by trying other activities that your spouse likes, it shows that you care about his or her interests, and perhaps you will find something you like as well in the process.
6. Prioritize time together
Marriage should be our top priority right after God. Your spouse is your primary family right now, and should always be second only to God.
This means we need to prioritize the time we spend with our spouses. Any relationship requires time. As life gets busy, it’s easy for that time with our loved ones to slip away as our schedules get more full.
That’s why James and I like to schedule our dates. We will usually decide a week in advance what we want to do or where we want to go together next week, and I’ll put it in my planner. I also block off evenings as marriage time and not plan any big tasks for when James gets home after work. We may work on some small things after dinner, but most of the evening is spent together eating, communicating, and relaxing. Our evenings are pretty short, as we go to sleep at 9pm to wake up at 5am. That’s why it’s important for us to be intentional about not planning anything big for the evening, so that we can devote time to each other.
I thought I’ll share some more wedding pictures and our wedding video below.