You’ve got a ring on your finger and about a thousand to-do’s on your list. You must be engaged.
When I got married almost a decade ago, my now-husband and I opted to do our engagement as quickly as possible. In three months, we moved, got new jobs, bought a house, started seminary, and planned a wedding.
As you can imagine with all that stress, it got a little rough. But one thing we wanted more than anything in that season was not just to create a gorgeous wedding (although that was really fun), but to start a healthy marriage. Through wise people who had been there before, we learned that didn’t happen by accident. Happy, healthy marriages were built on one intentional decision after another.
Here are four ways you can intentionally start a solid, Christ-centered marriage even in the midst of planning a wedding:
1. Spend time with Jesus.
John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” If you want love, joy, and peace in your future marriage, the first step is to spend time with Jesus. From Him, you can produce that fruit. It might seem impossible in this season of wedding planning to carve out time for a perfect, Instagram-worthy devotional. But, that’s not what Jesus is asking us to do. He just wants us to spend time with Him: read, meditate, and memorize His word. Talk to Him in prayer. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just start where you are today.
2. Do premarital counseling.
For a few months in college, I studied abroad in New Zealand. While there, I got the bold and daring idea to jump out of a perfectly good plane strapped to a stranger. It was thrilling to drop out of that aluminum structure at 12,000 feet above the earth and admire the wild landscape from above. But in order to do that, I had to receive instruction first. I had to be told what would happen, how to respond in an emergency, and how to hold my head and body while we jumped. I was also warned of what could happen so I had an open door out if I wanted to take it.
Marriage is a lot like skydiving. It’s thrilling and it’s risky. And just like skydiving, you need instruction before you strap yourself to someone else for a wild ride. You need to know what to expect, how to respond in conflict, how to listen well. Knowing these lessons from married veterans will save you years of heartache. Whether it’s one-on-one with another couple or a program at your church, premarital counseling will only help your future marriage.
3. Be in healthy community.
Scripture is wildly clear about this: we need one another (Romans 12:10). We were not created to do life in isolation. This is never more apparent than when you go through a transitional season of life. They can be scary and overwhelming. A healthy community of people help you think through decisions objectively; they come alongside you when you need to cry; and, they gently nudge you in the right direction when you’re going the wrong way.
A church is the best place to find this community. If you’re not a member at one, jump in. If you’ve been meaning to sign up for a small group, now’s the time.
Marriage has been one of the most sanctifying experiences of my life. It has revealed the depths of my selfishness and pride. But I quickly realized early on that when I stepped out of my own head and treated my husband with respect and fairness, tensions eased and healthy conversations flowed. It was in the pouring of myself out for another’s good that I saw growth.
Serving others before you’re married can cement this glorious principle. See your wedding not as an opportunity to make much of yourself, but as a means to serve others and make God look glorious.
More about The Tabitha Shop
Mikaela is the owner of The Tabitha Shop, selling thank you cards, bridesmaid proposal cards, stationery sets and so much more! She is a self-taught graphic designer who would love nothing more than to design, print, cut, fold, and glue stationery just for you.
Mikaela is a firm believer in the power of gratitude. In 2015, she and her husband flipped their lives upside down. They cut their living space in half and slashed their income to shreds to go in hot pursuit of their dreams. But the path was far from glamorous. After a few months of riding the thrill, Mikaela became overwhelmed and anxious about their future. She let hypothetical “what if’s” run her life, destroying her joy. Her husband suggested writing down one thing every day that I was grateful for. She tried it on March 3, 2016, and hasn’t stopped since. Gratitude changed her. And it’s the heart beat of The Tabitha Shop.
Mikaela’s hope is to help you cultivate gratitude with thank you cards and beautiful stationery. And through donations made from your purchases, they are pouring out gratitude all around the world. A portion of profits are donated to causes that bring hope and dignity to those who need it the most.
Win a Tabitha Shop bundle pack (5 bridesmaid proposal boxes with proposal cards, 5 wedding day cards, and a set of 10 thank you cards — valued $90!)