When I was engaged to my now-husband, I had some fears and hopes for our future marriage. Growing up in a small community, I saw broken marriages and relationships where couples had tensions and unresolved issues that led to a lack of trust. I had identified negative outworkings in those relationships, but did not know the root causes.
I did know one couple with a strong marriage and faith in God; they were romantic – laughing at each other’s jokes, for example. I never felt as if I had come at an awkward moment when I went to visit them as they included me in their family life and faith, talking openly. I remember asking God to make my marriage like that. Later, while me and my fiance were taking part in marriage preparation, I realised that God was answering my prayer.
The marriage preparation course we took was a “God-chance” to deal with some key difficulties before rather than during our marriage. It was painful but really worth it! Issues which would have come up later as areas of contention in our relationship were brought to the surface, and we had a chance to choose to draw closer to God and each other.
As we worked through the course, I began to realise that past hurts had led me to decide never to trust anyone again; I chose to trust God and the people He was giving me and was released from mistrust, which was a real breakthrough - and vital to a God-centred marriage. Then other “symptoms” could be dealt with. God demonstrated to me his love, grace, forgiveness and mercy through others who brought his word for healing to me. The result was that I was able to be the person I wanted to be, to live in line with my marriage promises: to love, honour and obey my husband. We already began practicing our God-given roles and a good foundation for our marriage was set.
I had often heard the first year of marriage was horrible, but for us it was wonderful. However, despite being very much in love, we had to learn what love meant in practice. We struggled with holidays, for example, as we had very different ideas of what makes a fun time! Preferring one another sounded good but we had to figure out how to do it. It is not about keeping a tally (what I want this time, what you want next), or taking turns, but it is about working it out together. It means learning more about each other, wanting to be with each other and for the other person to have fun.
The trust and foundations built during marriage preparation meant we started our marriage able to be open, talk about stuff and trust other people to help us too. We also can help each other when we have ‘wobbles’. I don’t know how we would manage without God and the people He has given us in our marriage!