My heart is so full for each of you. My vocabulary isn’t great enough to describe my love. Nor could words adequately express the sacrifices I would gladly make for you and your brothers & sisters. And like any parents, your Mother and I want you to experience the best of all that life offers. But as Believers, our desires for you begin and end with your faith. More than any wishes for worldly successes, I long for you to madly and passionately love God.
One of the biggest factors in how closely you walk with the Lord is how closely your spouse walks with the Lord and how closely you walk together. With that in mind I wan to share a few things that I’ve slowly figured out over the years. These aren’t necessarily in any order.
- Do NOT let Disney define your spouse for you. There is no woman or man of your dreams. That’s not reality and it’s not biblical. God never says that there’s one special someone out there for you – Disney does. And it’s a lie. That way of thinking creates expectations for your spouse that they will never be able to live up to. You’re not perfect. And he/she won’t be either.
You won’t always look the way you do when you’re in your 20’s. Neither will he/she. Don’t forget that. This is important. Our bodies (and body parts) have a way of getting wider, hairier and closer to the ground. So you better not marry anyone because you love how they look.
You see, there are values and characteristics that I want you to look for. Those are the same ones that your Mother and I keep harping on you about. All the stuff we’ve told you about loving God first, putting your family second, taking care of people who can’t take care of themselves, loving everyone – even people who won’t love you back . . . we want you to find someone who has those same values. And then, go and work together to figure out what values your family will have.
- Do NOT let Hollywood tell you what your sex life is supposed to be like. As with most everything else, movies and television are controlled by Satan – not God. So please don’t create expectations for your sex life based on what you see or read from there. It’s not healthy. In fact, I think it will lead you towards being unfulfilled in every way.
God has written the greatest material ever on how to have a sexually fulfilling marriage. It’s called Song of Solomon. And it’s good stuff. Before you buy any books or tapes, read that first. Trust me.
It seems like there’s a stereotype that Christians are prudes or don’t really get to enjoy sex. That’s just not true. In fact, I think Christians get to have the best sex ever. And it’s because it’s done in a covenant relationship where we give ourselves first and it’s all done in trust.
- Don’t ever put your kids ahead of your spouse. As you age, eventually you will see couples getting divorced after their kids are grown and out of the house. Your mother and I have seen it too often. And it scares us into being extra careful that our marriage doesn’t go down that road. I think those later-in-life divorces probably happen for different reasons. But I know one of those reasons is that couples often spend the majority of their time putting their kids ahead of their marriage. And when the kids were gone, so was their marriage. You see, marriage takes work, it’ s not a fairy tale that you can just take for granted (see #1). And if you’re spending all your time at recitals and practices and who knows what else, then you’re not spending time with your spouse (who’s supposed to be your best friend anyways).
- Let them watch you work through conflict together (they have to learn somewhere) but don’t ever argue in front of your children. It’s not right. It puts them in an uncomfortable position. It will create so much stress and tension for them. And if it happens a lot, they will end up blaming themselves. Don’t do that to them.
- Let your kids see you love on your spouse. I know you used to/still get grossed out when your Mom and I kiss and hug in front of you guys. And yes, sometimes we kind of did it as payback for driving us nuts. But it was also very important, to me especially, that you saw me loving on your Mother. You have to teach your kids what love looks like. Because if you don’t then someone else will. Do you want to take the chance on who that might be?
- Practice you faith together. I trust that you will be able to figure out what that looks like. But please, make this a priority and be consistent. I hope that you will pray regularly with and for your spouse. I also hope that you worship together as a family. (By the way, sometimes it’s nice to sit next to one another and hold hands. The kids don’t have to sit in between you all the time). Beyond that, we’ve raised you to think independently. That includes working out your faith and salvation with your Lord. We hope that we have given you a good example to follow. But let it just be that – an example. You and your spouse must follow where God calls you. And that will include the way you live out your faith.
- Forgive each other. You’ll have to do this over and over again. It’s terribly disappointing, but you will hurt one another. Hopefully as you grow, that will happen less and less. But it will happen. Say I’m sorry, forgive and move on. Period. Don’t hold on to it. Don’t bring it up later. Nothing. Talk through the issue. Share your hurt and disappointment. Say your sorry’s and drop it. Trust me on this. Hanging on to stuff is like carrying dead weight for the rest of your life. Eventually people who do that just give out beneath the weight. And usually, their marriage gives out too.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice, but lean on each other and figure things out together. When you leave our house and get married, that’s it. You’re gone. You sink and swim with each other. Of course, we love you and we’re always here for both of you. But let me be clear, we will let you struggle – because we love you. You’re going to hit your bumps and get some bruises. Life just has a way of doing that. Your Mother and I are doing the best we can to teach you so that you can limit those bumps and bruises. But they will come. And when they do, you lean on your spouse for support. He/she wants to be there for you. You guys will be just fine. Even though some nights you may wonder. Trust me on this one too. We’ve never cleaned up your messes for you. We won’t start once you get married. By working through things together you’re relationship will grow stronger and faster than you could ever imagine. You’re welcome! You’ll thank me when you’re older.
- Consistently date your spouse. We’d love to watch your kids for you! So don’t let that be an excuse. Mark a day each week on your calendar. And make that night off limits. Don’t let anything outside of a medical emergency get in the way. And please, go out on real dates. Hold hands. Flirt with each other. Do all the stuff you did when you were dating (and then some ;-). You’ll be blessed in so many ways from this. It keeps your relationship fresh and vibrant. And by doing this you communicate to one another and your kids that your relationship and marriage is very important.
- Finally, both you and your spouse need to get a hobby. Or something that resembles a hobby. Anything that’s relaxing and gets you away from your responsibilities and routines for a while. Of course, make sure you can afford it. And that it doesn’t take up more time than you spend with each other or your children. Life is stressful. Marriage can be stressful. And trust me, raising kids is stressful. You will need time to decompress and unwind. So do that. You will be a better Dad/Mom and Husband/Wife because of it.
- I said I would share 1o with you. But I wanted to save the most important thing for last. So here it is. No matter what ever happens, always keep God at the center and heart of your marriage! Now, that sounds like an automatic. But it’s not. Satan is going to be fighting hard for your marriage. He knows that if he can ruin your marriage that he gets a free run at you, your spouse and your kids. Don’t let him in. You’re marriage is at the center of a huge spiritual battle. You hold on to the Lord and to one another and you’ll do great! Jesus has already won the war! Don’t ever forget that.There’s so much more that I’d love to say. But we’ll have to save that for another time. So I’ll close with this, your Mother and I will be praying like crazy for you, your marriage, your spouse and your children. And we always want to be part of your journey. We’re never farther than a phone call away. Remember what we’ve been telling you since we brought you home from the hospital: “Mommy loves you. Daddy loves you. But most of all, God loves you! And Jesus died for you!”
Thanks so much to Showcase and the best custom cabinet makers in Sarasota, FL for sponsoring my blog!