This article about marriage tips you won’t hear in church originally appeared at FrankPowell.me. Check out Frank’s site for more of his great content.
Ever wish you had the answers to a test before you walked into the classroom? Maybe some of you did have the answers, but you better keep that to yourself. I took some really hard tests during my time in college.
And if you spent time in college you remember review days. The professor would walk into a class full of students (some of which I had never seen) and give some insights about the impending test. Miss review day, and it would be foolish to expect a passing grade.
But it never failed. I would follow the guideline. I would study the handout. But on the day of the exam, the professor would put the exam on my desk…and there it was. A foreign formula or equation. It wasn’t in the notes. It didn’t show up on the study guide.
Looking back, I realize something…the teacher did not intend for the study guide to be comprehensive. It was simply not possible to include everything from the required readings, class notes, and lectures.
The same is true with the church and Christian marriage. I am grateful for the foundation the church gave me in regards to marriage. It was a good study guide. But there some things on the test I did not learn until marriage began. So, I am going to give you some answers to the test that some of you might not expect to see. I grew up in church. I spent most of my time with Christian people.
I was told much about marriage. But here are 7 marriage tips I never heard in church.
1) Sex is a gift from God. Explore It.
Make no mistake…God created sex. But through the years, God’s people allowed Satan to steal this gift. Without a fight.
I was never educated about sex…and I grew up in a Christian family. My framework for sex was built by my friends and the movies I watched. Big UH OH. The cloud of lies formed during my teenage years still hinder me from enjoying the fullness of sex.
It is time for God’s people to take back the gift of sex. The lies surrounding it are ruining lives and marriages. If you are married, here’s a challenge. Explore sex. Explore the fullness of it. Pray for sexual intimacy with your spouse.
Parents…it is time to stop allowing Satan to define sex for our children. Educate them. Start early. The average child is exposed to pornography at age 11. Eleven!! And many parents wait until high school to have “the talk” with their children. At that point, you are not building a foundation for sex. You’re trying to destroy a foundation Satan has already built.
Church leaders…I am convinced of this. The situation in our culture today is too urgent to allow parents to override you here. Talk about sex. If parents refuse to educate their children, you do it. Do not let Satan beat you to the punch. A false understanding of sex is destroying young people. It is destroying our nation. It is destroying the world. And we are doing nothing!
Sex is a beautiful gift created by God for a man and a woman that have vowed to spend the rest of their earthly lives with one another. If you are married…open this gift and enjoy the fullness of it.
2) There is more than one person out there for you.
Soul mates are made…not born. I am not sure where this idea of soul mate originated, but it is false. Maintaining a healthy relationship is more about commitment than perfection. Every person on earth has imperfections. And the reality is we could spend our lives with more than one person.
Tiffani (my wife) is not perfect. There are nuances about her that frustrate me. But I realize these frustrations are really a result of my imperfections. I love her so much. And I love her more every day. I am committed to her.
I meet too many young people waiting for something that is not real. “I just couldn’t marry her because she smacked her food.” “He just wasn’t the one…he had this weird twitch when he smiled. But I know my soul mate is still out there. I just have to keep looking.”
What if God does not want you to find a perfect person, but an imperfect person that will draw you closer to Him? What if God desires you to marry a person with flaws to expose yours? What if God wants to teach you the value found in committing to one person forever, not the exhausting pursuit of searching your entire life to find the perfect person?
Soul mates are made…not born.
3) The first year of marriage is hard…really hard.
What have we done? Are we going to make it? Why is this so hard? All questions I asked myself many times during my first year of marriage. We were arguing. We were fighting. It was really hard. And every day I thought something was wrong. I thought we had a bad marriage. Nobody warned me about the first year. But take this as a warning…the first year of marriage is difficult.
If you are in the first year of marriage and thinking about giving up…congratulations. You are now…married!
But let me encourage you…things get better. Every marriage has struggles. Yours is not unique. Don’t give up. There are better days coming. Your marriage will get better. Do not walk out. Nothing worth having comes easy. If you walk out now you disqualify yourself (and your spouse) from years of joy.
4) A spouse does not complete you.
I hate you, Jerry Maguire. You brainwashed a generation to believe a lie. Spouses do not complete people. I bought this lie, and it wasn’t until I let go of any notion my wife could fill some void that I was able to truly love her. Until then, I was always frustrated. I expected Tiffani to do something she was incapable of doing.
If you are empty, broken, or insecure, and you believe a spouse is the silver bullet to your problems…buckle up. Marriage, even Christian marriage, will be a bumpy ride. Only God can fill those voids. You will never be able to enjoy the beauty of marriage if your spouse’s job is to complete you.
5) Marry somebody with similar goals, dreams, and passions.
Marry a Christian, yes. But I would go even further. Marry somebody with similar passions and dreams. Now, I understand this breaks down at some point. People are not machines. No two people want exactly the same thing in life. However, if you love foreign missions and your potential spouse hates going overseas, some tension will arise.
Synergy is extremely important in a marriage. If your spouse has the same vision as you, they will understand your struggles and support your pursuits. They will encourage your walk. They will be empathetic. There is much power in two people doing life with the same goals, dreams, and passions for life.
6) Marriage is not for everybody.
Paul talks about this in I Corinthians 7. He tells the church at Corinth to remain in their current situation. If unmarried, then stay unmarried. If married, then stay married. He later says this…
So then the person who marries his fiancee does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better. 1 Corinthians 7:38
Even better? I never heard that in church. Maybe it is time for God’s people to accept the reality. God has not called everyone to marry. I talk with young men and women that consumed with finding a spouse. And most of the pressure comes from…US. The church. Once a person reaches mid-twenties, we assume they have a fatal flaw if they aren’t married.
“Bless your heart. You are almost 30 and not married? I know this must be hard!?”
Shame on us. I am worried many failed marriages are the result of Christians pressuring people into something God did not design them for. Marriage is holy and good, but it is also possible to follow Jesus without a spouse.
7) The wedding day is a lie…don’t buy it.
I love weddings. I love officiating them. It is a rare moment where I get to make a divine proclamation that forever changes the status of two people. Powerful.
But in an increasingly individualistic, “me” culture, weddings create a potentially dangerous situation. “Every girl lives for her wedding day.” It is all about the bride and groom. Everyone looks at them. Encourages them. Congratulates them.
Many couples buy the lie of the wedding day…it is all about me. But marriage is at odds with this mindset. A successful wedding day is one where everyone serves you. A successful marriage is one where you serve your spouse. The wedding day is a day where the spotlight is on you. Marriage has no spotlight. The wedding day is about saying a bunch of words that most couples never take seriously. Marriage is about putting the words into action. The wedding day is joyous and celebratory. Many seasons of marriage are about persevering and not letting go through the storms.
Embrace your wedding day. Prepare for it. Celebrate it. But do not make the mistake of believing the lie. After your 20 minutes of fame, the spotlight is gone forever. It is no longer about you (and this is a good thing…you will see).
For more marriage tips, check out the articles on Thriving Marriages.