One of my closest friends is getting married this weekend, and in her honor I thought I'd write a little something.
I've only been married for 17 months, so to say I know all about marriage is quite an understatement. But, if I were to give any kind of advice about marriage, I would probably say this:
1: Confide in your spouse completely. There are going to be times when it might be easier to just keep back a piece of information, or maybe not ask that question that's been bugging you, but really all that will do is drive a wedge between you. Proverbs 31:11 says that a virtuous woman is one whose husband trusts her. Be the kind of husband/wife that will have the total trust of your spouse.
2: Admit your weaknesses. All of us have weak moments spiritually speaking. When you are in the midst of one of those moments, let your spouse in on it. Have them pray for you, with you and privately. It is no doubt their words will encourage and build you up in those weak moments. It will also make your relationship more God-centered, and really that's what will make it last.
3: Lean totally on your spouse. There are going to be hard times, that's just a fact of life. In those moments, it might be easy to go to one of your friends who's "always been there", but take special thought to go to your new spouse. The amount of time you spend crying together, praying together, talking things out...that will make all the difference. You will come out on the other side of whatever trial it is a better and stronger couple.
4: Make time for alone time. Sometimes it's hard to get away. Sometimes it's difficult to get away from work--or to not take work home with you. But, purpose in your heart to make time for alone time. It may not be weekly; some months it might not even happen. But be sure to plan out special times throughout the year that you can look back on and enjoy those memories. It doesn't have to be expensive--some day excursion somewhere enjoying the scenery. Just be sure that you get away, just the two of you.
5: Don't let them slip. You are going to be your spouse's biggest influence; take that to heart. There may be times when they want to get into a rut, but be sure to gently pull them out of that. Don't let them slack on duties, or even slack in a loving, Christian attitude toward others. Encourage them to always do and be the best that they can for God, and help them out of any temptations that may come--even if that means removing some of those temptations from their reach.
6: Always, always, always say I love you. This one really goes without saying, but it's so important. Sign every text, end every phone call, let your final words every night be these: I love you. And don't just get into the routine. Regularly, make it a point to look your spouse in the eyes and really tell them that you love them.
7: Don't let society define your marriage. There are SO many societal rituals and rules about marriage and different things you're supposed to do in marriage...don't take them to heart. Figure out what makes your marriage work, specifically, and keep it up. Don't let the pressures of society make you feel bad about your marriage--like you have to live up to something that the world has set in place. You do in your marriage what makes you and your spouse better and happier--period.
8: Let God define your marriage. Ephesians 5:22-33 gives us insight into the roles of husbands and wives. As a wife, be sure that you submit to your husband; that you allow him to have that rule over you. As a husband, be sure that you love and cherish your wife, and that you looking out for her soul in every instance.
9: Try to get involved in some of their interests. There are always going to be things that you like to do that your spouse doesn't, and vice versa. I think it's healthy to have those things. But, try to take on something new, too. Don't just stubbornly say you have no interest in something, try to give in and enjoy it with them.
10: Never, ever put your spouse down. Robert and I engage in self-depricating humor a lot, and we joke with each other a lot, too. We joke with each other in public settings as well, but I never feel like Robert is making fun of me or trying to hurt me or using a piece of knowledge to make me sound bad. Be sure that you don't ever put your spouse down in public. Be sure your spouse (and everyone around!) always knows how in love with your spouse you are. And if there are other people making fun of your spouse, be sure to stand up for them and compliment them. Be your spouse's biggest fan, even if there is something negative going on at home. There are always going to be trials and tests and arguments, but never air those in public. Always be your spouses biggest supporter and encourager, and again--make them feel safe.