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 (Manna 37: Marriage)
My First Year's Journey
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ARMy First Year's JourneyA Sister's Testimony of Her First Year of MarriageWhat is the initial experience of marriage like? Is it happily ever after from the moment you say, "I do"?The following is the testimony of a sister's first year of marriage. She candidly shares the troubles she went through with her husband, and how they resolved their many differences. Together, husband and wife established a set of Bible passages as their guide. Both were able to better communicate with the other and, with God's help, learned to accept and depend on one another.

At the writing of this testimony, my husband and I have been married a year and two months, and we are truly amazed at how far God has brought us in our marriage, both emotionally and spiritually.

We've had plenty of obstacles to overcome—and boy, do I mean plenty! But somehow, we've managed to make it to this point in our marriage—a point where we have truly grown to understand, accept, encourage, love, and appreciate each other.

Five or six months ago, I would've never imagined that this would ever be the result of our marriage, believe me!

Challenges of the First Month

...and they shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:24)

Our first month was truly a beautiful time in our marriage. Though we corresponded for seven years before marrying, there was still so much to learn about each other.

Everything was new and welcomed—we were newlyweds, of course! The tender gift of intimacy from God was very alive, and we both felt very blessed to be able to receive each other fully.

But our days in this Garden of Eden didn't quite carry us through the second, third, fourth, or even fifth months of marriage. Somehow, that nasty Serpent found its way into this paradise and into our hearts.

We began looking at each other very critically. Things we once thought were so endearing—like the way he so responsibly managed our finances, or the way I had a flare for decorating—became disturbing and annoying to the other.

We later began to mutter to ourselves, "I wish he wouldn't be so obsessed about our money! Can't he see his obsession is ruining our relationship?" And, "Why is she so obsessed with buying decorations for the home? Can't she see that we're drowning in debt from the wedding, the new furniture, past debts, and our mortgage?"

The Differences

Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received you, to the glory of God. (Rom 15:7)

The differences we discovered in each other truly ate away at our marriage in the early months. We faced vast differences in spending habits, energy levels, interests, and even verbal skills.

He was an early riser and wanted us to spend our weekends outdoors, while I loved to sleep in on weekends and bum around the house. He was interested in sports, cars, and business, while I was interested in puzzles, gardening, decorating, and crafts. He always wanted to discuss issues, while I began to avoid discussing them out of my fear of arguing.

We also really struggled with issues like punctuality, housekeeping, orderliness, dependability, and flexibility, and I won't even begin to tell you about the spiritual differences we were challenged with!

The idea of accepting my husband despite all of our differences was really hard for me to deal with. Needless to say, we brought little praise to God through our actions toward each other those first months of marriage.

Hanging by a Thread
Help us, O God of our salvation,
For the glory of Your name;
And deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins,
For Your name's sake! (Ps 79:9)

For a long time, I really thought I married the wrong guy. I mean, we just had so many differences! I can't even begin to tell you how many times I reached for my United Airlines reservations card to book a flight back home to the loving and accepting arms of Mom and Dad.

But I didn't. I wanted out of the marriage so badly, but I knew God didn't want me to give up. I couldn't break the promise I made to God and my husband in front of so many brothers and sisters on our wedding day. I couldn't hurt my husband, even though I really viewed him as the Enemy at the time.

So many people came to celebrate our marriage vows with us on our wedding day. I had to prove to myself and all my brothers and sisters in Christ that a godly marriage can indeed work. I just had to figure out how to become a godly wife, and I needed to ask God to forgive me for the angry words and feelings I was directing toward my husband.

The journey to healing and growth began when I finally made the promise to myself and to my Lord and Savior that I was committed to making my marriage work through His strength and His word.

Steps to Healing and Growth

This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. (2 Jn 6)

The first step I took was to make the determination to actually show my forgiveness to my husband, even if it meant that my pride was at stake. It was such a difficult thing for me to do because I was pretty stubborn.

I had to practice saying, "I'm sorry," which was very difficult for me to say to anyone. And, I had to practice forgiveness—and the art of expressing forgiveness—to my husband.

Promises to Each Other

One evening, after a huge argument had been settled, my husband and I made a few Bible-based promises to each other.

1) Eph 4:26: "Be angry, and do not sin': do not let the sun go down on your wrath..." We resolved never go to bed angry and to always tell each other "I love you" before going to sleep, regardless of whether the situation had been resolved or not. We also made a commitment to accept apologies and offer them openly to each other, whether they came in the form of spoken words, a hug, or the reaching out of a hand.

2) Num 14:18: "The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression." We agreed to practice flexibility and try our best to overlook the small matters, no matter how much they annoyed us. This meant that I'd have to bring the toilet seat down if he forgot instead of hammering him about it. (It didn't make sense to have a fifteen-minute argument over something I could have handled in a second by just putting the toilet seat down myself.) It also meant that he'd have to bend a little when I change our weekend plans out of an oversight on my part.

3) 2 Chr 7:14: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." We determined to always pray to God together before going to bed, even if the problem hadn't been totally resolved. In our prayers, we would examine our hearts, motives, and actions pertaining to the conflict. We would also ask for God's guidance, His love, and His forgiveness in our marriage.

4) 1 Thess 5:14-15: "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all." We must remind ourselves that we really don't have malicious intent toward each other. When things go wrong, and we accidentally say or do hurtful or annoying things to each other, we must realize that these things aren't intentional. We have to convince ourselves that we truly want the best for our marriage and each other. It's just that we're both all too human and fallible. We say and do the wrong things, and quite often, out of stupidity or an oversight.

Self-evaluation

Let us search out and examine our ways, And turn back to the Lord. (Lam 3:40)

The second step involved self-evaluation. I had to really think, "Is there even an ounce of truth behind the criticisms my husband is making toward me?" A lot of times, I discovered his criticisms were actually quite on the mark. He wasn't 100% correct about every criticism, but he was right a lot of times.

My attitude about money was really not where it should have been, and I did have a lot of room for growth in this aspect. I tended to spend frivolously and my wardrobe was a bit overdeveloped. Credit cards had become my best friends, and I had to learn to manage money and debt much better than I had been.

When I began to take steps at making myself a better person, wife, and Christian with respect to our finances and so many other things, I noticed that my husband began to discussg his weaknesses, inviting me to help him become a better person, husband, and Christian, too.

Communication

The wise in heart will be called prudent, And sweetness of the lips increases learning. (Prov 16:21)

My family was usually quite open with their feelings¡Xwe teased each other, spoke sarcastically, and were brutally honest with each other with no malicious intent. In an atmosphere of total acceptance, I had grown to become careless with my words.

The way I had become accustomed to communicating with my parents and brothers was inadvertently hurting my husband's feelings in my interactions with him. I had to learn to communicate my feelings to him in a more positive and less hurtful way.

My husband's upbringing was totally different, and he took great offense at my inability to mince words. I learned in my initial tense encounters with him that the communication skills I developed with my family were not going to work with him at all.

I was judgmental, harsh, and extremely sarcastic during our moments of conflict. Once-calm conversations always became shouting matches, which led to days of angry silence.

Eventually, I avoided airing my feelings out of fear of these shouting matches. I went from shouting matches to periods of withdrawal and avoidance. Basically, I went from one extreme to another, and neither was getting us anywhere.

With God's help and my husband's determination to work out the communication problems we were facing, I learned to communicate my feelings to him in very careful, loving, and less-critical ways.

Don't get me wrong, the shouting matches didn't cease to exist all of a sudden! But the intensity and frequency of those arguments did diminish over time, thank God.

Paths Made Straight

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will direct your paths." (Prov 3:5-6)

Now this man who was once my most loathed enemy is now my closest, dearest, most intimate and cherished friend. After nearly a year of battles and struggles, we've both reached a point where we can truly see and feel our Lord Jesus Christ in our marriage.

We feel God's forgiveness, His grace, and His unconditional love in each other, and we are able to experience what it's like to offer complete forgiveness, unending grace, and unconditional love to each other. It's a most amazing thing, really.

A year ago, I would never have imagined that my husband would be my closest companion and that I would ever really need him. I was an established individual, and I cherished my independence and my way of doing things. I truly enjoyed my twenty-seven years of singleness, and I wasn't all that ready to give up my independence.

It never occurred to me that I would actually need a man to complete me—I mean, I married my husband because I loved him and I knew I was called by God to take care of him, but I never really thought that I, myself, would ever need him to take care of me.

But now I have to say that I am very dependent on my husband. Once I began to allow him to care of me and us as a couple, I never wanted to go back to who I was before. I can surrender myself to him without feeling inferior to him.

I've seen such an amazing transformation in my husband, one that I never would have imagined him going through in the eight years we've known each other. He's now become such a flexible, affectionate, patient, forgiving, tender, and even humorous person! The feeling of being able to totally relax and trust another individual with your life and your heart is indescribable.

And the feeling of lying in the arms of a man who has placed you as his dearest priority on this earth can only be compared to the feeling I know I must have felt when I was held in the arms of my all-loving and self-sacrificing parents when I was a child.

I look back at who I was before, and I realize that my marriage has forced me to grow in ways I never even thought I needed to grow in, and it has allowed me to experience a love I never thought could exist outside my parents' love for me.

I can only thank God for this most amazing miracle, and I can only repay God for His loving and abiding presence during my first year of marriage by telling you about it, with hopes that my testimony will encourage you in your future marriage.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church
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