The Church loves marriage. It’s so clear that we as a generation of believers are rooting for couples and creating resources to help them experience abundance.
I can’t help but notice, however, that there are a few patterns of conversation that don’t line up with our mission. I think if we’re aware of how they impact others, specifically those who are newly married, we can better help young couples start their partnership well.
Assuming Trouble in New Marriage
Before we got married, I heard a lot of comments about how tough the first year of marriage would be. Rather than getting discouraged, I knew they were of good intention and meant to give us realistic expectations of married life. For that, I am grateful. I wouldn’t want to stand up on my wedding day without an accurate view!
What I find troubling, however, is the comments that have continued. Most are pretty lighthearted: “Fighting over who takes the trash out yet?” or “Have you started arguing like a real married couple?”
Dellan and I have had a blast these last 8 months. Not to say we haven’t ever argued, but overall we are so excited to be married. When these comments arise… I don’t know how to respond. I even feel guilty for enjoying this first year because it seems like we’re ‘doing it wrong.’ As though there’s this rule that if we aren’t bickering all the time, something’s not right.
And I think that’s a shame, because I’d love for others to celebrate with us as we praise God for His goodness in our new marriage! Instead, I’m left awkwardly chuckling and wanting to change the subject.
Attributing Goodness to the Honeymoon Phase
In the instances where I do share that we’re enjoying married life, I am often met with something like this: “Oh, that’s because you’re still in the newlywed phase! That’ll change.”
This is frustrating for a few reasons:
- It implies that the meat of married life, everything past the first year, is hard or a burden. And while I know that’s not true, and the person saying this knows that’s not true (I hope!), that’s what our conversation is conveying.
- It stirs up fear about what will happen after the first year. If I keep hearing that I’m experiencing the best part of marriage right now, it’s difficult to remain optimistic. There’s enough uncertainty in the early months of marriage without having added negativity spoken over the future.
- It discounts the work couples put into starting off marriage well. Dellan and I, as well as other couples I know, spent a lot of time preparing for marriage. Like I mentioned earlier, there are so many great resources available. It can be frustrating to be written off as still in ‘puppy love’ when we’ve put the work into building a strong foundation and leaning on the Lord.
What would be more helpful?
To sum it up: Ask, listen, and encourage.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
Instead of assuming based on past experiences, ask! Take genuine interest in how a couple is adjusting, preferably through sitting down to coffee rather than asking in passing. Couples who are enjoying married life will be happy to celebrate with you, and those who are struggling will feel supported.
And when they’ve shared, give genuine encouragement. Be honest and don’t sugarcoat, of course, but strengthen them with God’s promises. Let them know that no matter what happens, He is with them and cares about their marriage.
If there is no time to truly ask and listen, encourage anyway. A “Praise the Lord!” or “I’m so excited for you two!” in passing could go a long way.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
I’m just a young gal, I know I have a lot left to learn, and sometimes these fears keep me from using my voice. But God’s gifted me with a heart for encouraging change and a voice of discernment, so I couldn’t let fear win today.
Out of obedience and in gentleness, I’d like to spur us all to be better champions for marriage in how we speak. I know this is a small matter, but I’d love to see the Church shine through it. I’d love to see the body of Christ change the newlywed conversation, because we’re the ones who love marriage most. We’re in love with the Author of its design, amen?
Let me know your thoughts below! I’d love to continue chatting about this.
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