Not Your Average Marriage Proposal
Gerald and I sat in our usual booth at Buffalo Wild Wings. We had been officially dating for two weeks, and it was time to get down to the nitty-gritty. “So can you picture yourself being married to me?” Gerald asked, peering at me over his menu. “Yep!” I said with enthusiasm, hardly believing how casual and straightforward the conversation was. “So you want to get married?” He asked. No menu this time. “Yes.” I had to bite my cheeks to suppress my excitement.
I’m grinning just recalling that silly, but serious conversation. Six months later Gerald walked into Perfumania on my shift. He patiently waited in the corner of the store, pretending to be interested in some fragrance until I managed to satisfy all of the customers, and then asked me to marry him. I said “Yes!” Then we slipped into the employee’s room and ate Chinese food together. (Psst. Don’t tell my old boss.) I love my life, y’all.
We got married in September 2014, and our anniversary is right around the corner, so I thought this would be a perfect time to capture my reflections and lessons learned from 2 years of marriage. I was 23 when we got married. That’s considered too young for some folk. I hope this post encourages young women who’ve been considering marriage with their sweetheart. Without further ado, here are my lessons learned from 2 years of marriage.
Everybody’s a marriage expert ―except everybody’s not a marriage expert. (Pro 18:2)
One of the most frustrating things Gerald and I experienced after announcing our engagement was the flack we got from self-proclaimed “marriage experts.” Whether it’s the divorced guy or bitter single woman from your job, at your school, in your family, or any circle of human-beings you associate with, you’ll run into at least one. But it doesn’t stop at the engagement phase.
Nosy, jealous, or just plain rude people will always try to tell you how you should manage your “marriage.” How your spouse should treat you, what you should do if your spouse does ____, the list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong. Some people mean well, but in the end they just end up trying to vindicate why their own marriage or relationship failed, or they try to pass off their marital issues onto your blooming, healthy romance. I’m not saying that you won’t need guidance from another mature couple, you will. But as a Christian, if that person doesn’t live out the gospel or have a healthy marriage of his or her own, I would take the advice of the self-proclaimed “marriage expert” with a grain of salt.
Don’t ever speak badly of your husband (Pro 12:8, 31:26).
Speaking ill of your spouse to a family member or friend is like a gateway drug. It just opens your marriage and immediate external relationships up for major discourse and chaos! When you bad mouth your spouse, you immediately extend the opportunity for your friend or family member to do the same. Don’t ever…I mean NEVER…speak poorly of your husband to your mom or your best friend. Don’t do it! I learned this from watching other married people! This is disrespectful behavior. You might entice the female listener that knows you have a good man to pursue him. You put your own business out in the streets, and when you finally make up with him your family or friend that you bad-mouthed him to may still be angry with him. They may treat him differently.
There is a time and place to share your feelings, hurt, or disappointment with your spouse―in a private conversation with your spouse, or in a private conversation that includes a Christian advocate for your marriage (living in holiness) along with your spouse. Everything outside of that becomes sketchy.
BTW I recommend a Christian advocate for your marriage, because people who don’t have an accurate understanding of the gospel will almost always offer you a man-centered solution for your marital problems. Don’t ask someone who doesn’t have a proper understanding of God’s design for marriage how to solve a marital conflict! That’s like inviting a bulldozer into a glass house. Just don’t…
Be patient with your husband. He’s only been married for 2 years! (Eph 4:32)
Your husband will not immediately understand how to be a husband. He knows how to love you. ✓ He knows how to pay a bill. ✓ He knows how to share chores with you. ✓ Will he immediately understand why you got angry with him after doing ____? Probably not. But if you slow down and communicate exactly what he did and how it made you feel in a respectful tone, he may get it after 3 or 4 arguments about it. Just hang in there. Have some grace for the Brother. He’s new to the marriage thang too. So forgive him when he steps on your big toe or hits that one nerve that ain’t good, because you’re going to need his grace and forgiveness too. (P.S.- If that doesn’t work, call that couple that you’ve both agreed is who you can speak with during bad arguments and ask them to mediate for y’all.)
Walking out during a fight is not an option. (1 Cor 7:10-11; Matt 19:6)
Once you’ve had it up to here (here―being the height of your average “you have to be this tall to ride this” ride sign at the fair), you’re ready to charge the door and slam it on your way out. Not an option to you my married friend. Why? Because reasons. Reasons accompanied by bullet points below:
- Your husband doesn’t know what you’re getting ready to do or where you’re getting ready to go. (For all he knows you’re about to take a mini-vacation and blow the savings account. Don’t say you haven’t thought about it. We’re all sinners here…) On a more serious note you might let your poor judgement get the best of you and have an affair with someone.
- You’re dragging out the conflict when you leave without reconciling. Just take some time to calm down. Give each other time to calm down and reconvene at another time.
- You make your husband feel like you might want to leave―as in “divorce.” Stick around. It’s a visual reminder for the both of you that you’ve got each other’s back.
Try not to break your spouse’s BIG rule. (Eph 5:22-33)
Every wife and husband has that one BIG rule, that you know not to break. For me, it’s “Nia is #1 right after Jesus ALL THE TIME.” Nobody comes before Nia. Gerald’s rule, like most guys’, is RESPECT ME ALL DAY LONG. Don’t disrespect me EVAH. Not in the car, not in the grocery store, not in my our house. No where. At no time. Figure out what your spouse’s BIG rule is, and try not to break it. If you do break it, go to your spouse and tell them: “I’m really sorry for doing _______. I know I made you feel [insert resulted feeling of broken BIG rule here].” Then your husband will be amazed at how well you know him, and hopefully will extend forgiveness without much resistance. And the whole thing will blow over. Yay!
There is no “my,” only “ours.” (Gen 2:24)
You don’t get to use the singular possessive pronouns any more when it comes to finances. There’s only “our” bills, and “our” debt. You’re one flesh. You’re a team. So stop being selfish, and put your married girl panties on. (If either one of you needs to pump the brakes on spending, I highly recommend going through any of Dave Ramsey’s programs.)
Pray for your husband. (Phil 4:6)
When it comes to your husband, pray about everything concerning him and surrounding him. Pray for his health, his spiritual growth as the head of the family, his job, his Christian witness. Pray for him to see God as his provider, not his job. Pray for his coworkers and friends. Pray for his protection from the enemy’s schemes, and to deliver him out of temptation. Pray that God protects your affections for each other and most of all for y’all’s affections for God.
God’s #1 and your spouse is #2. (Lu 10:27)
It won’t always be sunshine and rainbows with your spouse. They’ll be tough times―deaths, finances’ll get tight, kids’ll come, sickness, and so on. Honestly, Gerald and I haven’t experienced any of that yet. But we are confident that our marriage was built and founded by God. If we continue to keep Him at the center of our relationship, we know that God will pull us through the tough times together by his grace.
Thank you God for the gift of Gerald, for the gift of marriage! I pray that the years to come our relationship will be a beautiful portrait of Christ’s love for the church and the church’s reverence for God, the Son. God bless you young women seeking marriage and all the wives―young or old! Don’t ever get so wise concerning marriage that you can’t revisit the basics―like the ones mentioned in this article!