Friday, December 11, 2015

Parenting Pointers: Marriage Advice Your Family Forgot to Share (Guest Post)

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When they found out you were getting married, every member of your family had a piece of advice to share with you. From your parents to your older, wiser cousins, everyone had something to say. Some of the most critical pieces of advice you'll ever receive on your marriage, however, are the most often forgotten.

1. Put each other before everything else in your lives. When you join your lives together as husband and wife, you make the decision to prioritize one another above everything else. You will fight. You will go through hard times. You will consider giving up. In the end, however, you need to turn back to one another and lovingly recommit to your relationship.

2. Don't fight about money. This starts with not hiding your financial information from one another. Be open and honest about your purchases, especially the big ones. Habitually discuss your budget for each year, each month, and even each paycheck, if necessary. Each of you should have play money that you can spend as you like, without needing to be accountable to one another; but if you're going to make a big purchase, you need to make it together. When you're already comfortable talking about money, it's easier to have those discussions when you need to.

3. Be responsible with your home and belongings. You need to be proactive about your home warranty,
warranties for your appliances, and homeowners’ insurance. Early in your marriage, you might not have the readily available funds to handle an emergency should one arise. Protecting your spouse includes taking care of your assets and being clear about what you're offered if something doesn't work the way it should.

4. Learn to fight well. When you first get married, you might believe that your spouse can do no wrong and that you're never going to fight with one another. Eventually, however, you will find something to fight over. Learn how to fight without hurting one another in the process. One trick that has brought many couples back together following a disagreement? Pray for each other every time you're angry. It's hard to shout at someone when you're taking them to God.

5. Put God at the center of your marriage. Your marriage is not just between you and your spouse. As Christians, you develop a three-way relationship between the two of you and God. When God is at the center, many of the disagreements of everyday life become easier to manage.

6. Appreciate the value of silence. There are some things that should simply go unsaid, even to--or perhaps especially to--your spouse. When you're considering saying something harsh or unkind, take a moment to decide whether or not it will add value to your relationship. This doesn't mean you have to sit back and let your spouse make you unhappy; it just means that you should put your relationship and your spouse's heart first and make sure that if you say something, it's something that genuinely needs to be said.

7. Be accountable to one another. When you mess up--and you will mess up--be honest with your spouse. When you're struggling, ask for help and prayer. Your spouse will almost always know when there's something wrong in your life, and sharing it with them up front keeps those dark feelings from festering in your heart and fears from festering in theirs.

8. Control your tone and your posture. A man who is angry will speak in a deeper voice and draw himself up in an effort to appear bigger and more intimidating. A woman who is annoyed will have a sharper, more piercing voice that is designed to cut straight to her husband's heart. Both of these attributes often cause more harm than good in a discussion with your spouse. When you control yourself and speak lovingly and kindly even when you're frustrated, you create an opening for communication instead of beating your spouse down.

9. Listen to what your spouse doesn't say. Just as you learn to read your spouse's tone, posture, and words, you should also learn to listen carefully to what your spouse doesn't say any time you're having a conversation. Sometimes, it's the thing that's missing from the conversation that has the biggest impact on your spouse's heart.

10. It's okay to be jealous. That doesn't mean that you have unlimited permission to be jealous of your spouse, but you should jealously guard your time, energy, and attention for your spouse. Never allow someone else to become more important than your spouse. Avoid being alone with members of the opposite sex. Your marriage is precious and it deserves to be treated that way.

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