One man admitted a year into the married, “I am so surprised that my wife and I are so different!” “For example, she stays up late at night, and I like to go to bed early” He reluctantly adds, “I cannot understand her moods; they are as confusing as high school math.” The thing that got him most was, “I know I was right in the disagreement we just had, but how is it that I am the one always apologizing and feeling bad.” Lastly, he says, “She is so critical of how I do household chores. Nothing seems to be good enough.”
The wife had some complaints of her own, “My husband barely speaks to me.” She goes on, “It is just ‘hello,’ ‘how was your day,’ ‘thank you,’ no real meaningful conversations.” She says, “Even when he asks me, how was your day, he does not really mean it because I start to tell him about my day, he moves on to what he wants to tell me.” Sadly, she says, “When I am upset and want to talk about it, he starts to listen, but then he interrupts me with what I need to do to fix things. He is more into fixing problems than letting me get the problems off of my chest.” She ends with how irritated she is, “Why are men so difficult to understand? How do can we make our marriage succeed?”
If you have just recently gotten married, you likely have faced similar challenges. It is weird how you never noticed these faults and shortcomings that you never noticed when you were dating or engaged. How can you lessen the impact of the “everyday troubles that married people will have”?—1 Corinthians 7:28, Good News Translation (GNT).
First, realize this simple fact. You are newly married, and neither you nor your spouse is an expert on married life. True, maybe both of you had acquired great social skills before you met, even matured as an adult, and they may have served you well while you were dating. Let us face it; everyone puts his or her best foot forward when you are dating. Both work very hard to please the other. The skills and qualities that you and your spouse have acquired in life and throughout the dating process are like the baby steps of life. Marriage will put those skills and qualities to the test, to refine and strengthen them, if you allow that to be the case.
There are two important points here. (1) You need to ponder, consider, meditate on how you can grow and develop the skills and qualities you have. (2) Likely, life requires that you gain new one’s skills and qualities. Let us just mention one in passing. From this day forward, practice thinking before you respond. Literally, when your spouse says something to you, stop, pause 3-5 seconds and think about what you are going to say. If you even think, it will hurt or harm, even in the slightest way, do not say it, let go of it. Another, your spouse does not need to know everything all the time. If there is something that happened in your day that will hurt or harm feelings in the slightest way, keep it to yourself. If a woman flirts with you in line at a restaurant and you did not reciprocate to her but instead lifted your hand and said I am happily married. There is no harm or foul here. What purpose does it serve to share that information? It is like when your wife asked you if this dress makes her look fat. You know it does and to top things of it is hideous as well. Truthfully, you can let her know that it is not good in the gentlest way possible without being frank about it.
The best way to improve your skills and qualities is to consult an expert. Once we have the advice from the expert, it is absolutely necessary that we listen to the advice. There is no greater expert than the Creator of man and women, who instituted the first marriage. (Gen. 2:22-24) Here in this book, we will quote many Scriptures. Many times, we will offer commentary on what the author meant by his words. You will notice how the Bible is able to help you overcome your weaknesses, improve the skills and qualities you have, and acquire new ones that will vastly improve your marriage. The one message that needs to be taken seriously is: apply, apply, and apply.
SKILL – Learn to communicate with each Other
Why is this such a challenge? Because you were used to thinking for one person and now you must realize that your decisions, your comments, and how you act impacts another person, namely, your spouse. When you make a decision, for example, without consulting your spouse, it makes her feel as though she is not involved in the marriage or that her voice does not matter. Worse still, at times you might talk to your friends about a decision and not even consider your spouse’s input on the situation.
What is the Solution?
Keep in mind that Jesus said, “are no longer two but one flesh.” (Matt. 19:3-6) In the eyes of God, no other human relationship is as important as that between a husband and a wife. If you are going to grow your relationship beyond the first year, good communication is vital.
Much of the historical narrative in the Bible is given to us so that we can learn a lesson from it. If we look at the account between God and Abraham, we see how God communicated with him. See the discussion recorded in Genesis 18:17-33. Notice how God honored Abraham. (1) God explained to Abraham what he intended to do. (2) He listened and allowed Abraham to explain his views on the situation. (3) Even God made a little adaptation based on Abraham’s thoughts. You can follow this same pattern by consulting your spouse, listening to your spouse, and accommodating the spouse’s concerns to the extent possible
It is best to present your thoughts to your spouse as suggestions, not final decisions or ultimatums when discussing matters that will affect your marriage. Both of you can offer your opinions and evidence that you supports your spouse’s insights. You need to show a gentle attitude toward everyone.—Philippians 4:5.
SKILL – Learn to be Sensitive, Thoughtful, and Perceptive
Why is this such a challenge? The world is a melting pot today, and cultures differ. Truly, even communities differ from one another. As you grew up may it was fine to offer your opinion firmly, even bluntly. There are places in Europe that an American ear would consider them to be tactless but it is the norm there to be very direct when expressing themselves. This is something that should be overcome for the sake of the marriage.
What is the solution?
Never assume that your spouse should be spoken to or even likes to be spoken to as you have been accustom to speaking to others. (Philippians 2:3-4) What the Apostle Paul told Timothy should be applied in a marriage as well. “For a slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be kind to all, qualified to teach, showing restraint when wronged.” (2 Tim. 2:24) Tact is the ability to avoid giving offense: skill in situations in which other people’s feelings have to be considered. Sensitive is one who is thoughtful and sympathetic: tactful and sympathetic about the feelings of others. Perceptiveness in a marriage is one who is quick to understand: possessing or showing keen insight and understanding. When you find yourself upset with your spouse try to ponder how you would respond to your boss at work or your bosses boss. Would you use the same tone, the same words, or would you choose your words wisely? True, it is sad that you would tone it down out of respect for your boss and fear of displeasing him or her, but you would not do the same for your wife out of respect and love.—Colossians 4:6.
SKILL – Learn to Grow Into Your Role within the Family
Why is this such a challenge? The husband is not used to using his headship that he never had before the marriage. This is a new role you have never had. You have normally just made your decisions without considering others. Maybe you grew up in a family where your father never consulted your mother. Thus, the friction you have been feeling at the beginning of your marriage might be because you are ruling your family like you are the king. The other side of the coin is that your new wife might be demanding of you in things like being tidier around the house. Thus, the two of you could ponder, how does it make you feel when the other is demanding?
What is the solution?
As a Christian husband, you too might be confusing what the Bible has to say about wifely subjection and what it says about the obedience of a child to his parent. (Col. 3:20; 1 Pet. 3:1) Rather, the Bible says, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” The wife is a compliment (or counterpart) of her husband. God never refers to the child of the house as being a complement or counterpart to the parent. Therefore, it is not honoring your wife when you treat her like a child and demand that she obey you.
Actually, the Word of God urges you to treat your wife in the same manner that Jesus Christ treats the Christian congregation. You can make it easier for your wife to respect your headship if you first respect her role within the family. You should not expect her straightaway and perfectly to express her subjection to you, she is new to her role as well. You are to love her in the same way you love and care for yourself, even in times of difficulty. (Eph. 5:25-29) If you do these things, the wife will, in turn, honor you as the husband and accept you as the God-appointed head. (1 Cor. 11:3) She will recognize that by honoring you, she is also honoring God. She will know that to reject your headship; she will be evidencing how she feels about you and God.
When you and your wife are tackling challenging issues that come up, try to focus on the challenge, not each other. You wife will love you more deeply if you give her some time to adjust to her new role. Moreover, love her more deeply if she gives you the same opportunity. Therefore, buy out the time to discuss how you are going to be patient with each other. However, the moment someone shows a little impatience, this is not the time to say, “You said you were going to be more patient with me.” We all are weak, imperfect humans and are bound to fall short many times.—Ephesians 5:33.
Another thing you might try is: do not focus on the way you think you wife needs to change. Rather, you focus in on what you need to do to make changes. If she does the same thing, all will be well. You cannot change another by demanding it, but you can motive them by making your own needed changes. You might be upset by how you have fallen short ion exercising your headship, why not ask your wife where you might be able to improve. Then, apply those suggestions in your dealings with her. The wife should as you for suggestions on how she might improve as well.
If you and your wife go into marriage thinking that it is going to be nothing but bliss, you are setting yourselves up for failure from the start. You and your wife should expect to make some embarrassing mistakes as you gain experience in the marriage. While you certainly want to take your shortcomings seriously, you have to learn not to take life too seriously. You have to be able to laugh at yourself. Make it your mission to bring joy to your wife throughout the first year of marriage. (Deut. 24:5) Most of all, allow the Word of God to guide your relationship. If God is the focal point of the marriage, the relationship will grow stronger each year.
Study the Word of God together
- You and your wife should have your own personal Bible study that each of you does alone.
- You should have a family study at least two days a week. You being the head of the house, you need to prepare for the studies and make sure it runs smoothly.
- You and your wife need to prepare for all Christian meetings.
- You and your wife need to attend all Christian meetings each week, regularly.
- You and your wife need to have some evangelism program where you are sharing God’s Word with others and making disciples.