Important Tips for You and Your Spouse
I’ve officiated at many marriage ceremonies during my time as a pastor. At many of these ceremonies, I’ve seen more than my share of bewildered brides, gloomy grooms, panicked parents, and cynical guests. Too often, the audience is wondering if the marriage they’re witnessing will really last or if it will dissolve into devastating divorce.
Over the years, I’ve come to believe that following God’s instructions in one specific Bible verse can impact the success and longevity of a marriage more than any other. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
In order to truly leave our parents, cleave to each other, and become one flesh, we need to follow three specific steps.
FIRST, ACKNOWLEDGE OF UNMET NEEDS
Every child needs attention, affection, appreciation, acceptance, security, and respect (among many other requirements), but far too few of us have all of our needs met during our formative years. If you or your spouse did not receive these gifts, then you will carry unresolved hurt. Moreover, you can’t give your loved one what you haven’t received. For example, if you didn’t feel accepted, you might reject or be judgmental of your spouse. It’s vital to recognize those unmet needs, talk through them together, and comfort one another.
NEXT, LOSE UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Every family has its own way of living life. For example, some families express their anger loudly, sharing their feelings right when they happen, and then letting go to forgive and forget. Other families are very different. They never express their anger aloud, and it just simmers below the surface, unresolved and damaging.
Can you imagine what happens when a husband from the first type of family marries a wife from the second? Conflict is nearly unresolvable. Pain lingers. Bitterness grows.
Marriage means leaving behind our expectations of what life is supposed to be, and, instead forging ahead to learn about each other and how your new family will create life together.
MOURN AND COMFORT HURTS
We all carry experiences from the past that shape our present. It’s critical to address difficult memories, hurts, and sorrows as they surface, so that their consequences don’t affect the future.
For example, I recall a husband and wife who were facing a difficult pregnancy. They ended up in my office after a fight about white bread! She was supposed to eat six pieces of white bread before a glucose test at her obstetrician’s office, and she chose multi-grain bread instead.
The husband panicked, certain that she had jeopardized the health of the baby. He was absolutely livid. But after we all talked, we discovered that his childhood had been filled with life-threatening illnesses. Possible danger to his child triggered a deep emotional response. The wife began to better understand where his fear and anger came from—and she began to comfort his hurt.
As you begin your marriage—or even as you build on years together—these tips will make an incredible difference. So work to understand each other’s triggers. Acknowledge the loss of unmet needs. Let go of unrealistic expectations. Grieve together and comfort one another.
Become one flesh by allowing God to unite your hearts and build your family!
CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.
This article is part of our 2021 September / October Issue