Today we honored my sister-in-law at a bridal shower with family and friends as she prepares for her wedding in one month! The following is a speech I gave of my advice to her, and to any soon-to-be (or already) married woman.
We spend so much time focusing on the wedding day, that now we would like to take a few moments to help you prepare for a lifetime of marriage. Since I have been married for 5 years, I’m pretty much an expert and qualified to speak next.
“How to survive being married to a Chun” Oh wait, that’s my speech for Tom! Just kidding.
Stephanie I do have three pieces of advice for you as you begin your married life with Tom. In the Bible in Matthew 19 Jesus says “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (Matt 19:4-6)
1. My first piece of advice is do everything together. There are enough things in your daily life that will pull you away from each other. You will spend at least 8 hours at work away from each other every day. Make a conscious effort to spend your time with Tom. This may mean taking an interest in things he likes, such as video games and cars. But eventually you will see him take an interest in things you like to do as well.
When Jeff and I were first married, we had already dated on and off for 8 years, so I thought I knew all there was to know about him. One day he started to tell me about mixed martial arts where you combine boxing and martial arts moves. He said there was a reality tv show called The Ultimate Fighter where guys compete to get a contract to fight professionally. As uninterested in this as I was, I decided I’d watch it with him anyway. We were just married and I was trying to spend time with him. Well it didn’t take long before the reality show aspect sucked me in. Soon I found myself understanding the sport, picking my favorite fighters, and telling Jeff when the next fight was that we needed to watch. His interest became my interest.
Doing things together for us has also meant traveling to incredible places. I would be content to sit on a beach in Florida but because Jeff wanted to, we’ve climbed Africa’s tallest mountain, kayaked in Thailand, and crawled through caves in Kentucky. I’m still requesting a vacation that does not require me training for, but I’m hoping that will come soon.
Jeff has also taken an interest in things I like. He is more of a loner, but I’d rather spend time with people. He once told me I was only allowed to have one party per year. Haha! I said “ok” and just stopped calling them “parties” and started saying we were having some friends over. Just last month for Jack’s first birthday party Jeff said, “Well if we’re going to have a party, it should be the best party ever!” He’s coming around.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
2. My second point is Pray don’t Nag. Wives seem to have a reputation for nagging their husbands: do this, don’t do that, change your attitude, change your clothes, etc. While it’s fine to kindly remind Tom to take the garbage out, when you want to see real lasting change in his life, it is crucial to pray. It may be hard to believe, but there will be times you are frustrated and angry with Tom. Instead of complaining or arguing or trying to convince him of your way, pray. By praying you are acknowledging that God is in control. He is the One who has the power to change Tom’s heart. But God also has the power to change your heart.
As you pray and ask God to change Tom, you may find you are the one changing. You will become more patient, kind, and forgiving of Tom as you realize that God has been patient, kind, and forgiving of you, just like He is with all of us.
Praying for Tom when you are upset is a great way to avoid some arguments. But it is also a great gift you can give him to pray for Tom everyday – pray about his work, his friends, his attitude, his faith, his marriage. This book, The Power of a Praying Wife is a great tool in giving you Bible verses and example prayers on a variety of topics to pray for Tom.
“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matt 19:6)
3. In the world today you hear a lot about divorce. Billboards advertise divorce lawyers, TV & movies show divorced families like it’s no big deal, and the divorce rate is around 50%. But in your family and in Tom’s family marriage is honored. You and Tom are blessed with grandparents, aunts & uncles, siblings, and parents who are leaving a legacy of marriage. I made this frame with their names to remind you that you are not alone.
When hard times come, may this serve as a testimony of the commitment you have witnessed in your families. There will be challenges in your life together. Arguments you don’t know how to resolve, conflict you think won’t go away, disagreements you want to win. There may be sorrow. There may be hardships. But there will be joy. May this frame serve to remind you that you “are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders [every thought that says you might be better with someone else – set that aside] and the sin that so easily entangles. And run with perseverance this race [of marriage] marked out for you, fixing your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) And may you continue to pass on the legacy of marriage to future generations.
Finally, Stephanie, may you remember that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:4-8)