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This is a guest post written by Gabrielle Rae Selby for
Sparrows + Lily.

I am a strong believer in accepting hard truths in order to grow. I know that the power of transformation and hard work can improve almost anything and I especially have confidence in this when it comes to marriage.

When marriage is purposeful, it can literally be life-changing.

I have a lot to learn and I definitely do not have all the answers. But, God has laid very specific truths on my heart that help me daily in becoming a better wife, and a better follower of Jesus.

Whether you are single, engaged, newly-married, considering divorce or celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary, I believe these 7 things can speak to you in your season of life.

1. Intentionality is not optional.

I have a tendency of being less intentional the later the day gets. There are many nights that I prepare dinner while my husband is working or doing something else. Then, when dinner is ready, we grab our plates, go to the couch, eat and watch TV.

I’m pretty sure we’re not the only ones…

It’s almost easier to be intentional about conversations when you’re dating and don’t live together, because you save up stories and thoughts for the next time you’ll see your significant other.

In my life, there are weeks where I hold in emotions and feelings to the point where I erupt. At the end of one of these weeks, I’ll have an emotional breakdown which catches us both by surprise. My husband didn’t know that I was feeling a certain way, and I didn’t take the time to tell him.

Since it’s just the two of us, it’s so much easier to fall into this habit. But, I’ve learned that simply adjusting our pattern to sitting down at the table together and talking brings us closer together and saves us from miscommunication or lack of communication down the road.

Marriage without intentionality is like driving without directions. Days will come and go, you’ll continue moving, you’ll go through the motions, but you’ll never get anywhere.

Being intentional is harder than being comfortable, but it brings far more blessings.

Marriage without intentionality is like driving without directions. Days will come and go, you’ll continue moving, you’ll go through the motions, but you’ll never get anywhere. Click To Tweet

2. You don’t get to choose when marriage is a sacrament and when it’s there to serve you.

[Sacrament = “an outward sign of inward grace”. ]

When you think of a sacrament, what do you think of? Most often, we probably think of communion or baptism. But, we probably don’t always think of marriage.

In our culture, marriage is not commonly treated as a sacrament. It is often filled with flippancy and its foundation rests on feelings and emotions. When you view marriage as a sacrament, the worldly definition slowly fades and change will take place in your heart.

A sacrament is about God, entirely. Partaking in communion is about God. Baptisms are about God. We can mistake this because we are acting on our faith so we assume they are about us. But, the grace of God is the only reason these mean anything. Marriage isn’t any different.

But, there are days when you want specific fulfillment from the marriage … when you want the goodness of the relationship for you and for you alone … when you want it to serve your needs.

If we choose to treat marriage as a needs-filler or a wants-fulfiller, we will miss out on the extravagant grace of God. If we do this, others will miss out on the example of a covenantal relationship.

When we view marriage as a sacrament, offering unconditional love becomes easier. We become less self-absorbed and more gracious. Our daily actions become more about God and less about us.

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Being intentional is harder than being comfortable, but it brings far more blessings. Click To Tweet

3. Prayer is not optional.

Praying for your spouse and praying through the difficulties of marriage cannot be a plan B. Prayer CANNOT be a second option or a last resort. Prayer should be the front lines of defense, your weapon when you’re attacked and the hope you hold on to.

We don’t like to hear this, because it holds us to a high level of accountability … but, the amount we pray does say something about how much we love God and how much we trust Him.

When you pray for your person, pray zealously. When you pray for your marriage, pray earnestly. Yearn for God. Seek God. I’m not talking about the 2-minute prayer, “God, please watch over ____.” No, I’m talking about the strong, powerful, all-in, 100% believing kind of prayers that last all day NOT just through a commercial break.

You will see mountains move and hearts soften right before your eyes.

Speaking of prayer…

4. Your spouse is an answer to prayer not an answer to ALL prayers.

This may seem obvious, but it’s painful to learn. Ever since I was little, I couldn’t wait to get married. I looked forward to it more than anything. The problem with that was that I didn’t look far past the day of the wedding. I imagined what it would be like to be married, but I always imagined my husband right next to me. Then, I got married and had to realize that I am still me!

What I mean is that we are one, but I am still Gabrielle … a woman created with a specific God-given purpose. Three weeks after Hunter and I got married, he left for Officer school for the Navy. He was gone for the first 3 months of our marriage. This was painful and difficult, no doubt about it. But, it was also eye-opening.

I realized that my responsibilities as a wife didn’t cancel out the dreams and desires of my own heart. I still have a personal calling, and although my husband is an amazing answer to prayer, he cannot be the answer to all of my prayers. That wouldn’t be fair to God, me, or him.

marriage advice, christian marriage, biblical marriage, divorce, engaged, engagement ring, bridal shower, honeymoon, just married

5. Placing unrealistic expectations on your marriage sets you up for failure.

This may be one of the biggest struggles as a newlywed. My husband and I came from a Christian college culture where it is very common to get married young. Right from the beginning, it felt like there were tons and tons of couples to compare our marriage to.

But, hear me on this: unrealistic expectations are relationship killers. Somewhere along the way, you have unintentionally formed certain ideas and expectations of how your spouse should act and treat you or how your marriage should look like as a whole. Maybe you watched a lot of romantic movies or observed couples in your life or maybe you have expectations from looking at Instagram or Facebook.

Sometimes, the things that I compare our relationship to are almost humorous. I find myself looking at couples’ Instagram’s who post fancy date-night pictures and I feel envious. If you know Hunter and I, you know how silly that is. We are home-bodies. We would rather order Chinese food and sushi and watch movies at home than go out to a fancy dinner. So, why do I find myself comparing our marriage to that?!

It’s very easy to forget that our model for marriage should be Christ and the Church, not the other relationships around us. Click To Tweet

6. You’re going to get hurt.

I think there is a tendency to correlate healthiness with perfection in marriage. An imperfect marriage does not equal an unhealthy marriage. I would actually argue the opposite. If you never experience hurt, then something may be unhealthy.

When two imperfect people decide to spend their lives together, they have to know that some hurt will take place. But, the fact that you can hurt is a sign of how much you care about the other person and their opinions.

Now, don’t get me wrong … there shouldn’t be constant screaming matches or all-out brawls going on in your home. But, your husband might forget to show you love in the way you need. And, wives may come off disrespectful to their husbands. Reacting strongly to hurt will only case more pain for the future.

Go to the Lord before acting. Don’t react. Don’t make things worse. Find a way to address the mistake without calling into question the other person’s character.

7. Your sin is greater than theirs.

Ouch. This may be the hardest truth that I have had to accept.

There are quite a few verses in Scripture that are difficult to swallow. You want to pass them up and read about God’s grace or God’s plan for you instead! Anyone with me? If you do that though, you’ll miss out on so much growth and transformation.

Marriage causes me to wrestle with these verses even more.

Matthew 7:3-5 says, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

I often look past the log in my own eye to point out the speck in his. And, there are many days when he does the same. (See what I did there?) And, let me tell you, it solves absolutely NOTHING. It causes discord instead of oneness and hurt instead of peace.

When you have the mindset that your sin is greater than theirs, your marriage has the ability to blossom. You will feel empowered to work on yourself for the other person, rather than expecting them to “fix” themselves for you.

When the disappointments are too much to handle, and the miscommunication is overwhelming and your feelings are hurt, come back to this truth: your number one goal as a couple should be to reflect the image of God. Your marriage can’t be self-centered or self-serving. Accepting hard truths and working together will allow your relationship to flourish and your purpose to be seen.

What hard truths do you need to accept this week? Are you open to learning, working and changing?

Gabrielle is a Christian blogger and Navy wife living in San Diego, California. She is passionate about breaking through fear with faith, and embracing freedom through Jesus. She started Fuel Your Fearless to share the stories of her heart for those who want God to interrupt their lives with truth. Gabrielle is extremely passionate about discipleship, marriage, and encouraging women in their faith journeys.

You can find out more about Gabrielle and her blog by following her on: Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.”

If you enjoyed this post, here are a few others like it:

To The Girl Who Wished She Hadn’t: Starting Over with Sexual Purity

Calling All Men: How To Know If You’re Loving Your Wife Well

When You’re Tired of Waiting for Prince Charming

 

10 Ways a Wife Disrespects Her Husband
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