Tuesday, 7 January 2014

"It matters whom you marry," they said.

I recently read a post on a Christian blog about marriage. You can read It Matters Whom You Marry here. In some ways I do agree with the author in some aspects of this advice. Basically, you shouldn't marry a jerk. I decided that I'm kind of sick of receiving unsolicited advice about relationships, so I really wanted to use the opportunity as someone who is newly married to respond to some of this advice.

The blog opens with a love triangle at a youth group - the princess, the jerky guy and the "computer geek" (her words, not mine). The jerky guy got mad at the princess, and the author seemed to think that from this one interaction these two young people experienced a bad marriage would follow.

Here are some really simple facts I know about guys:
1. Guys can be complete jerks. But girls can be pretty terrible too. Actually, there is a 'sister' blog to this one advising young men on how to choose the right woman to marry. We'll talk about that one another day.
2. Everyone has a bad day. And sometimes they even have poor motor control.
3. Boys mature slower than girls. Simple. So no one should even be contemplating marrying anyone in a youth group setting unless it caters for young adults as well.

Here's something is strongly suspect about this blogger:
I'm pretty sure this antidotes about people she knows are made up, or at least, second hand information. That's my discernment, but if I'm wrong, please forgive me. This lady seems way too nice to know horrible people.

Below are the headings taken from this blog, with my two cents worth below.

 Here are just some of the ways that marriage will impact every aspect of living. 1. It will impact you spiritually.
Of course it does, and I'm really glad this blog mentioned spirituality before everything else.If your values are Christ-centred, yes, marrying a Christian guy is the way for you. But if you are happy being in a multi-faith relationship, you married someone who is struggling spiritually, or your husband has faith but is not overly committed, there is hope. In the real world I know many praying wives who pray daily for their husband's spiritual life. I admire these women greatly.

This article states a lot about the husband being the head of the household, leading his family through their faith journey. However, this is not always the case, and sometimes women find themselves relying on pastors and mentors to get them through. Sometimes women are the spiritual head of the household. Does this coincide with the teachings of Paul? Perhaps not, but perhaps there is no choice for the wife than to fulfill the role of the head of the household.

2. It will impact you emotionally.
Sometimes I have had a terrible day, and then been quite fine for my lovely husband to follow through with his night "out with the guys". Okay, so Stephen spends a lot of time playing sport. But that makes him happy. My mental health and happiness is not weighted on interactions with my husband. He isn't responsible for my happiness or how I react to a situation.

On the other hand, some people don't deal with emotion well. Some people don't do tears, sentimentality or tradition. And if your future husband is like that, he most likely won't change. This cookie-cutter guy in choosing the man you marry won't help you, unless you are willing to apply it to your own situation and learn what you can accept with the spirit of grace. Before I was getting married, a lady I admired once told me "If I wasn't Christian I just couldn't be married to my husband!" It is all about grace and having the power to forgive.

3. It will impact you physically.
Rule 1: You can help provide for your household.This is a bit rich coming from me, as it is holidays and I am not working. However, I make my own pocket money and help out where I can. Even if it is just selling a dress for a few bucks on eBay or doing the ironing (my least favourite job), I contribute.

I do agree with the author when it comes to the husband being the provider - money can't buy you love, but it does get you are roof over your head, food on your table and clothes on your back. Sometimes people marry and don't have any of these things. You have to make it work for you.

Rule 2: Being playful is seriously okay.
I am a highly playful person. I also give awesome arm punches. You need to use your own discernment here. The author does make some very valid points, but you need to use your own mind too.

Rule 3: Accept that guys aren't perfect
There is a whole lot about sexy time in here which I'm not prepared to cover in this particular blog, other than the simple advice is that although a number of women spend a lot of time investing in self-education about relationships, the number of men is probably fewer. What I'm trying to say is that ladies need to be upfront with their fellas about what they want, need and like in all things, not just in the physical sense. And sometimes you don't know either - I hate having my feet touched (I'm really ticklish), but I like having a little rest in the morning if I have woken up with carpal tunnel. Often Stephen will bring me my heat pack to help get my hands warmed up for the day ahead.

4. It will impact you mentally.
This is why I think pre-marraige counselling is really important. Accepting that often their are things about your partner that you find challenging is crucial, but it is how you deal with those issues that helps make or break the relationship. Just because a man lacks understanding about all of your emotional needs or has some difficulty supporting you shouldn't mean that he is not the right man for you to marry. It means you need to speak up and work on your relationship. This is why I don't recommend short relationships before marriage. Being friends and/or dating for a few years helps you decide what you can and can't accept about your relationship.

5. It will impact you relationally.
I think it is unreasonable to expect your future husband to accept all of your friends, family and myriad of acquaintances. In the real world, people do not always get along, and a particular trait you like, or at least accept, in a friendship might be unacceptable to your partner. Also, when you are married, relationships change dramatically. You lose friends, you make new friends, you might become less or more family orientated. It varies greatly, and it should. Be grateful if your future husband brings up issues he has with your relationships, and consider them with great care. Often this will be out of genuine concern rather than a lack of respect.

I encourage you to read the blog and make up your own mind. It seems to be have directed to younger girls which makes me sad - encouraging marriage is all good and well, but only when a couple is ready for it. Reading books and blogs will only get you so far. Invest in the relationships you want to be in for years to come - with family, friends and possible future husbands. It is always worth it.

As a friend's excellent advice on our wedding day was 'communication is the key!' Even the exclamation mark in this reads true. A lot of the advice is in the blog is simply passive. Without investing in communication time, rather than your thoughts and sharing them with your significant other, far too many assumptions will be made. People get hurt. Talk more, analyze less. Live and love with God's grace.