First, before you begin reading this post, please, let me tell no one is an expert on relationships…except Jesus. No one knows it all (least of all me). But, I’ve been married to my husband for several years and I think I’ve figured out the process of this weird state-of-being called marriage – or at least for he and I. So, I’m going to do my best to encourage you and share what I’ve learned this far on this journey in hopes of preventing you from making some really stupid mistakes. Godly relationship advice is a scary topic for me to approach, but I’m gonna give it the old college try.
The best Godly relationship advice is to be ready to share your life. Do the self-work necessary to be mentally and emotionally healthy in your relationship. Secondly, don’t focus on yourself all the time. Think of your mate more that you think of yourself. The final piece of Godly relationship advice is to pick your battles. Every situation needs to be an argument.
Take the “meat”and leave the “bones” as you proceed.
Let me begin by telling you where I’ve come from. I’m going to be super honest, so don’t judge me.
Relationships have always been challenging for me. Godly relationship advice wasn’t something I received as a teen, so I had no clue what I was doing and it showed.
Besides, my personality type was a problem. It craves plenty of change and finds life to be boring when things (or people) stay the same for too long. Do you know someone like that? Are you like that? Let me know in the comments. 🙂
“Gimme a buffet any day of the week!”
“I’m a buffet girl” is what I used to say back when I was single.
I loved meeting new guys (not entering in close relationships or being intimate with them or anything), but, it was fun learning about them and then leaving the relationship before the “hard stuff” started.
The “hard stuff” to which I’m referring is the ingredients of “real life”.
I didn’t like doing “life” with anyone for every long.
Bad moods, ups and downs, complaining seasons – none of it seemed appealing for dating and such. Sure, I’d be there for my friends and family, but the jokers I met were just short-term figures and I’d quickly tell them so. I didn’t want to marry them or have them disrupt my life…I just wanted to get a burger and move on.
Again, don’t judge me. I’m being honest. To respect where I am, you have to know where I came from.
Back to what I was sharing.
I liked casual friendships. Non-committal is what you might have labeled me.
I think a lot of women are as I was. I also think there a a lot of “why’s” that make them that way.
Maybe they had been hurt and lost faith in relationships. I think I did.
Could be they were too lazy to do the work of understanding and tolerating another person during those ‘hard times’ that are bound to come. That was me.
Or, what if they are easily bored with people. Honey, that was totally was me!
My personality really is part of equation though.
You must know yourself and know who you are before you enter any relationship. That’s why I’m repeating the personality piece of the equation.
For me, I learned years ago, I viewed people as puzzles to solve. Once I relatively “figured them out”, it was time to move on.
This way of life and viewing relationships became comfortable, reliable and safe. It was also wrong. More about that later.
I’m glad God brought me from viewing relationships so narrowly.
Fear-based, lackadaisical approaches to relationships are unhealthy. So, is being selfish (as with my personality-serving behavior). Tip 1 would be know yourself and consider how it affects relationships.
Godly relationship advice #2: Don’t be self-centered.
Open your heart and become somewhat vulnerable if you want to work toward a good marriage. That’s my Godly relationship advice for sure.
John came and turned it all upside down.
When my friend set me up with a local pastor, named John, I wanted to protect the poor guy from my short attention span. So I was upfront with him about how I was and where I was.
I often told him what I told all the guys: “I’m so glad God brought you into my life for this season.” Get it? Season means temporary. It means you “lift out” like a peg in one of those old-fashioned wooden toys. It means “don’t get comfortable, Bub.”
He wasn’t having it.
After about a month, he sweetly told me he wasn’t interested in a “season” with me. He wanted a lifetime.
In the beginning, I acted as though I didn’t hear him.
But, eventually, God made it incredibly clear John was to be my husband.
I’m so glad He did and I’m so glad I acquiesced because that dude has made my life a dream.
But, first the dream was a nightmare.
To be honest, I really did have tons of struggles during the early days of marriage. We both did. For my part, I was bringing ME into that marriage. I brought my short attention span, my personality type, my hurts, my need for change….all of it. So did he.
It made it so hard becoming one flesh and one spiritual “beating heart.” No one told me how hard it would be. Indeed, we (LIKE EVERY COUPLE) had intense rough patches, bitter tears and lots of regret.
Know this: in order to get to the good parts of life and relationships, you have to go through the “stinky” parts first.
The problem is most people quit or divorce before they get to the wonderful parts of solid relationships.
Hang in there. Don’t quit.
If you’re dating…
Give the relationship a reasonable amount of time before abandoning it. There is a catch to this advice: the relationship must be healthy. You must be valued, cherished and respected in the contexts of it. If not, all bets are off…RUN!
On the other hand, if you’re married, definitely stick around until you guys figure things out. Learning a whole, new person is complicated. It takes time and it takes lots of work. You will need to put on your emotional hard hat and go into construction mode (I.e. building zone), but you can have a great marriage- if you hang in there.
Don’t give up on your relationship too soon!
I repeat: don’t quit. Don’t give up on your marriage. As long as you’re not being beaten, mistreated or “played on” (i.e. adultery), please try to make it work.
Endure the normal, ordinary growing pangs of marriage and simply stay in the relationship. Through tears and struggle, stay in the fight. Don’t rush to divorce. It’s not worth it.
As for me, I’m so glad I stayed in my marriage.
Remember, I’m the quintessential “quitter.”
When John and I were in our darkest times, I thought about running. Many times I thought about it.
Thankfully, God sent our dear friends (Kevin and Rebecca Cacy) to guide us.
They encouraged us to “hang in there” and admonished us (as I’m doing with you) if we did stick it out, we could get to the “land of milk honey” in our marriage.
They were so right!!!!
Now, that John and I are citizens of this sweet land, I’m so grateful we didn’t give up on our love. I’m so elated I didn’t quit; nor did he.
Stay. Persevere. Fight.
Godly advice 3: Work on you.
I’ve got a secret: very often the problem in relationships is not the other person creating most of the problems. It’s you.
Personally speaking, victory didn’t come in our relationship until I genuinely realized I had to work on ME (and definitely my “quitting” inclinations). I had to toss when I wanted to “clam up”, I had to pray when I wanted to fuss.
Yes, my husband had his issues too. Truthfully, I could do nothing about them. Those were his “work” to do.
I could, however, do something about mine. When, I understood this, that’s when change occurred. Breakthrough came!
When I stopped being stressed or sad about HIS shortcomings, I felt more in control. I felt more empowered.
Worrying about what he was (or was not) doing reminded me of a hamster wheel – running and running – yet, getting no where. That was pointless. Who has time for that madness?
It wasn’t until I discovered to 1) keep my big mouth shut, and 2) adapt a stance of understanding, compassion and flexibility that we turned the corner. I could control those things!
My advice #4: Who cares who’s right?
You do not always need to talk, defend or argue a point. Instead, sometimes, just be quiet. Know when to advocate and when to let things go.
I don’t always agree with my husband, nor does he always agree with me. When I don’t agree, I have learned to ask myself “Is this worth defending or discussing?” If not, I just let it go.
My husband likely does the same.
Who wants a bunch of tension in the house over silly things that really don’t matter in the end.
For example, maybe my husband pronounces a word incorrectly. Do I need to say anything about it? No, I really don’t.
Maybe he quotes the wrong date of a historical event. Does it really matter? Nope.
I don’t want to be like that irritating wife that Proverbs likens to an annoying dripping faucet.
A nagging wife is like the dripping
of a leaky roof in a rainstorm.
Stopping her is like trying to stop the wind.
It’s like trying to grab olive oil with your hand.
I seriously had to focus on fixing my own shortcomings (largely my big mouth and quick wit) before my marriage could enter the “Promised Land.” Once I did, the culture of my marriage changed and the culture of my home changed.
Godly advice for the win: be lovable so you can be loved.
When I did, he began to respond to me differently and seemed to give me more of what I needed as I gave him more of what he needed.
In the end, relationships and marriage are about sacrificing your own interest (in realistic, healthy ways) and preferring the other person over yourself. That’s what it’s all about.
You know, I think the word relationship should be replaced the word “sacrifice.” For instance, if someone wants to know your status, they should ask “Are you single or are you in sacrifice right now?” Ha!
Final Christian tip: Marriage is hard as jogging across the country in stilettos.
I’m being silly, but marriage is very difficult work because it requires you to discipline yourself to control your emotions, responses and your habits. You will need to re-define yourself in ways that will be uncomfortable and difficult. Count on it. Accept it.
You’ll need to “kill” the parts of yourself that are problematic for the greater good of the marriage.
Sound familiar? That’s the same thing you have to do in order to be in proper fellowship with the Lord.
“I have been crucified with Christ. I don’t live any longer, but Christ lives in me. Now I live my life in my body by faith in the Son of God. He loved me and gave himself for me.”
Self- depravation is required for any relationshp to survive, be it a mother, wife, sister or a friend.
Note: I’m talking about healthy relationships. You can NEVER completely lose yourself in a relationship. If a person never cares about your interests, desires or wants, that’s not a relationship. It’s a prison. That’s NOT to what I’m referring in this blog post on Godly relationship advice. OK?
With that, I’ll ask. What do ya think?