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My Amateur Marriage Advice

Recently I was chatting with a young friend about planning her upcoming wedding. She looked at me with bright eyes and a big buoyant smile and said, "Do you have any marriage advice?"

Oh boy.

After 27 years of marriage and our official wedding on the day after Hurricane Fran, I'm not sure I knew how to begin. I've made so many mistakes and I'm not Dr. Phil. Do I tell her that smashing plates is not a good way to solve an argument? Or do I tell her about how pouting and the silent treatment are more poison to yourself? Or better yet, do I tell her that the wedding and romantic dates aren't even close to the best parts of marriage?

In truth, I think most couples like us are doing the best we can. We all want to be the ones people look to and say, "They have it figured out." But for real, marriage is hard. We work at our marriage, but we don't always get it right. Here are three ideas I know for sure about marriage.

1. Fight Naked.

This is seriously the best marriage advice ever. I love writing this on every wedding card because it works. If you don't believe me, try it. There will be lots of fights in marriage -- big ones and little ones and everything in between. But it's hard to stay mad for long this way and that's the point.

2. Keep Faith Central.

When my to-be husband insisted we attend church regularly as a couple, I thought that was nice. After all, I had grown up in church, I liked church. But truly I was more of a "Cheester" or Christmas and Easter-style churchgoer. I had no idea it would be the thing that would be the glue to hold us together, the life-giving raft boat in devastating storms. Our faith became the one thing that always brought us back to each other. I can recall many Sundays when I wanted to burn all his clothes on the way to church and later holding hands all the way home. Through the years, the love of Christ is what has kept us in love.

3. Honor Sabbath.

We don't always get this right, but when we do keep the Sabbath, it makes all the difference. Usually, the worst moments in our marriage happen because we are tired, stressed, or haven't had a chance to truly connect. To combat this, we intentionally try to honor the Sabbath by making it a day for each other. When possible, we don't schedule anything but church. We cook up a giant brunch or go out for a special breakfast. We make the day about all things nurturing - fun foods, watching sports, hanging out together, and being intentional about connection and relaxation. It has been a life-giving practice that I wish I had honored sooner. What a gift to have a day resting well together.

What About You?

How are you honoring and nurturing the most important relationships in your life? Whether you are married, single, divorced or like my friend, about to be wedded, taking exceptional care of our relationships requires much of us. Mostly vast love and constant forgiveness.

If you had to sum up the Bible in two words, I think it would be these: love and forgive. These two powerful words are also the heart of all well-tended relationships - loving and forgiving, over and over again.


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1 Comment

Feb 16, 2023

Oh, Cara, I love this so much. Yes, yes, wonderful words of wisdom gained from living it.

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