A friend recently asked me to send along my best marriage advice. He’s getting married soon, so he’s looking for some pro tips. I’m only 11 years into my marriage. I am reticent to offer advice at all. Honestly, I’ve seen a lot of folks dish out advice way too early in their marriages. I’ve also seen once-solid marriages crumble after more than a few decades. So I offer this with a lot of humility and only minimal confidence in its value. All I can really say is that these things have helped me a great deal through my first decade.
- Jesus is key. Almost all of the Christian couples I know where both spouses love the Lord deeply and passionately are happy in their marriages. Really, almost all of them. And I don’t think there is a lot of mystery as to why that is the case: Having Jesus as the center and foundation really does make all the difference.
- Happiness in marriage is a choice. After getting some good advice, my wife and I decided at the outset that we had 2 options: to be happily married or unhappily married. The point was that we would be married either way. And not just for a while, but forever. So we choose to be happy and fight hard for it. It ventures beyond my comfort zone to say this, but I honestly think that a lot of folks who are miserable in their marriages are miserable because at some point they decided that was an acceptable arrangement. It’s not. And it’s never too late to fight for happiness.
- Cherish every moment. My wife’s grandfather was one of the best men I’ve ever known. For the first few years of our marriage, he would send my wife and I a card every month. In it he would always write the same words “Cherish every moment.” Those words meant a lot to me, because I knew his wife of many, many years died without a lot of warning. I knew he would have given up a lot of things for only a few more minutes with her. So I try to remember this advice, especially when marriage isn’t easy. I don’t want to waste time I can’t get back arguing or being angry. And a lot of times, it’s that advice that breaks through.
- Enjoy the ride. I’m convinced marriage is the very best way for most people to enjoy their adult lives. I know not everyone is called to marriage. Some folks desire marriage but haven’t yet met the right person. But for those who have, it is an incredible gift to enjoy. None of us know how many days or moments we will have with our spouse or our families. Life’s too short to be miserable. And marriage is too precious not to enjoy. So my best advice is basically this: Love Jesus. Love your spouse. And thank God for every moment.
In the immortal words of Jack Dawson, “make it count.”