Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love and Marriage from a Single's Perspective

            Normally, around Valentine’s Day, well really the first couple weeks of February, I am very anti-valentine. I have worn black, recruited single friends, and I even once posted a picture I made proclaiming it was S.A.D. (Singles’ Awareness Day) on my Facebook profile. But, something is different this year…maybe it’s because of the unusual blizzard we had this month, maybe it’s because more of my close friends are now married, or the fact that I’ve been writing and reflecting on my thoughts more often, or maybe it’s some of the books I’ve read recently. Whatever it is, I don’t feel as much hatred toward this holiday as I used to. I am still very aware of my singleness, I’m reminded of it almost every time I go into Wal-Mart with its flood of balloons and flowers. But if we lay the commercialism aside, the purpose of Valentine’s Day isn’t so bad. It is a celebration of love; a time to show your loved ones how much you care for them. True romance and chivalry are dying breeds and should be recognized even more than just on Valentine’s Day or a couple’s anniversary.

            Personally, I cannot claim to be an expert on marriage, although I have learned a few things over the years from observing the couples around me. I may not have an in-depth understanding until I gain some experience, but I have an idea of what it takes to have a healthy marriage. So, in honor of the holiday, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned through my observations. The first key is to love and honor God. Many of you have probably heard the acronym for JOY: put Jesus first, then Others, and then Yourself. If you are in a relationship with God through prayer and reading His Word, then your relationship with your spouse will benefit. I have seen prayer work in many marriages. Relationships have been healed, struggles have been taken care of, and lives have been changed through the power of prayer. For singles, building a relationship with God is the best investment you can put into your future. He can carry you through your worries and trials and bring a sense of peace if you allow Him to have control. In marriage, you should love each other as Christ loves the church.

            Another key to marriage is trust. I have seen relationship after relationship fall apart because of a lack of trust. The best way to build trust is to be honest with one another. Don’t hide the past and let your husband or wife know when you make a mistake. If you try to bury the things you’ve done, there is always a chance that they will become unearthed. And I’m not just talking about sexual immorality, there are other things couples hide from each other. Poor financial decisions, taking sides with their kids, and sometimes even illnesses are examples of things that are kept secret that shouldn’t be. Another key to marriage, which is also a good way to build trust, is communication. One of the first things I’ve seen many couples do when they’re angry is shut each other out. Sometimes you may need to cool down from a heated argument, but fuming over the issue and giving each other the “silent treatment” is not going to fix anything. If a problem is not addressed immediately, it will probably come up again or escalate into something far worse. Communication isn’t just about settling arguments either…couples should also express their ideas and interests with each other. Talk about your childhood, participate in each other’s hobbies, discuss how to discipline your kids, share your worries, and the list could go on and on. When couples are communicating well, they will be able to handle things better if an area of conflict or an unexpected trial comes up.

            I am speaking with a voice of inexperience, but I believe with God as the foundation and trust and communication as part of the building blocks, a strong marriage can be built. And as with any building project, it takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it when you see the results. There are so many scriptures that cover love and marriage, here are some I’ve found if you would like to do some “homework:”
            * Proverbs 31:10-31 (a virtuous woman)
            * 1 Corinthians 7:10-15 (divorce)
            * 1 Corinthians 13 (what is love?)
            * Ephesians 5:20-33 (roles of husbands and wives)
            * 1 Peter 3:1-9 (more on marriage roles)

Also whether you’re single, courting or dating, or married these are some good books I’ve read or heard about on the subject of marriage or preparing for marriage:
            * I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris
            * Preparing to be a Help Meet by Debi Pearl
            * The Five Love Languages and The Five Love Languages for Singles by Gary Chapman
            * Karen Kingsbury’s Redemption series, which includes Redemption, Remember, Return, Rejoice, and Reunion (I know they’re fictional, but she worked with a relationship expert named Gary Smalley to write these books that address major issues and troubles that come up in marriages and families. I really enjoyed reading them and may have learned a thing or two in the process.)

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

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