“Love is not a feeling, it’s a choice”. I’ve heard this the first time in Theology class in college. I didn’t fully grasp though what it meant until I said yes to my then fiancé now husband and I get to spend every waking day with him. It happens that his habits annoy me, I get irritated and I don’t feel like loving him. I’m sure he does feel that too. But when I do make the choice to love him and look past his faults, somehow the feeling soon follows.
This is just one of the many things I’ve learned in my first year as a wife. Hopefully by God’s grace my husband and I will continue to remember those lessons we’ve learned especially in trying times. Most importantly please pray for us that we remain connected to God to make the marriage be our source of peace and joy and make it last a lifetime.
These are some of the things I’ve learned in our first year of togetherness. Some are taken from books, seminars we’ve attended, blogs I’ve read, people surrounding us and supporting our marriage, and our own experiences.
6. Court and date your wife
Courting and dating should not stop in marriage. My hubby learned this from his sister, Ate Christie that the couple should set aside a regular date night. I know this is tough especially when the kids come but couples must continue to work on building romance in marriage. I am grateful that God has allowed us at least a year, just the two of us, to enjoy each other’s company and adjust to the habits we’ve discovered about one another.
I still do appreciate that no matter how familiar we are with each other at this point, my husband can still surprise me (in a good way). He still takes me out on random movie dates, recreation activities and he still gives me flowers on special occasions as he has promised a long time ago.
He even researches on restaurants we haven’t tried yet and takes me there.
Just a note, the courtship and dating doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. 🙂 Like when we need to save up a bit, my husband just sets up our dining table with some candles (for a candlelit dinner). What makes me laugh every time is that to match the candlelit dinner, he wears on the upper half of his body his white long sleeve polo he wore during our wedding, and on the lower part…
his boxers! :p
Now that he’s doing that and making all the effort in “pursuing me”, on my part I must still be the girl he used to date.
My husband appreciates that I dress up for him, look my best self and am still attractive to him even when I’m at home. So this also follows that I MUST have regular exercise and proper diet. It doesn’t mean that he will love me less if I don’t but it’s one way to keep us attracted to each other. (Men are visual beings!) In the same way, though I’m not much of a visual person, I also like it whenever he still dresses up for me and keeps himself fit.
It still makes me feel special because he makes the effort for me. And because of this it keeps the romance alive.
7. Join a group that will encourage you in the faith and be loving to your spouse
Belonging in a discipleship group (DGroup) has blessed us in many ways. They are the people whom we trust, run to with our hurts or struggles in life and share our victories in the faith. We are there to mutually support each other. We are also sure that they are there to pray for us, encourage us to keep walking with God and be our eyes when we can’t see Him amidst our troubles.
There are things that we learn in our DGroup that we may not know or hear from others. When I got married, I was hungry to be taught and to be mentored on how to become a good (and even godly) wife to my husband. Good in the definition of what is pleasing to him. I was seeking for a model/mentor in the 3rd Quarter of 2013 to teach me how to be a good partner because I felt that I am not fully equipped. I shared this concern to my discipler, Lors before in my Singles DGroup. She told me simply, the best teacher for that would be my husband and that I should just ask him.
It was an answered prayer when we moved to a couples DGroup under Pastor Jonathan and Coco early this year. We learned more on the dynamics of couples who are committed to follow Christ as we discovered the specific roles of a husband and his wife such as:
1. For the husbands he must lead his wife and family and love her among other things.
2. For the wives we must be / do the ff:
- Helpmate – I need to help my husband fulfill the vision God has entrusted to him.
- Encourager – I am his cheerleader and number one fan.
- Respect our husband – I should not interrupt him when he speaks and I should not raise my voice at him.
- Submit (Support) – I should submit to him and his leadership on how he will run our family and I should support his decisions. To not blame him when things go wrong and still be there to iron things out with him.
Most of the time when we are struggling with each other, we just need a little push to either be better or worse. We need that little push from someone who will tell us to hang in there and fight for our marriage. Imagine if every time my husband and I argue and he seeks comfort from friends who will tell him to drink it off or find someone else, or if I seek comfort from friends who will tell me I deserve better or I deserve to be happy without my husband. No matter how strong I think my conviction is, I admit that I still might fall to a deception like that.
In 1 Corinthians 15:33 it says, Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character”.
We must intentionally surround ourselves with people who will remind us of our wedding vows to stand by each other no matter what.
8. Never stop growing and learning
Books, lessons, activities, new discoveries. This gives color to our conversations and relationship. What’s beautiful in this information age is that everything is already accessible.
The challenge though for me is with everything accessible, I need to filter what information to get. I think that the biggest temptation for me right now is social network. Instead of choosing to read, it’s so much easier to pick up my phone and browse the news feed to pass time. My husband would often remind me to put down my phone and go back to reading. Since it is our choices that determine us, my husband may be making the smart choices and I get left behind with the wrong ones. It would be hard for me then to catch up with the way his mind processes and understand or sympathize with him. Likewise with him if he gets left behind or he walks too far ahead of me.
We must constantly grow in ourselves – faith, relationship, family life, career wise, knowledge and information to still be interesting to each other.
We most importantly need to catch up in the growing of our partner.
We do have different likes and preferences so I need to still grow with him in his new found interests and activities. The first step to grow with our partner is to listen to him when he discusses new hobbies and pastimes. To be engaged when he passionately discusses business or the moral lessons he learned in movies or cartoons like Naruto. (“,)
My husband likewise needs to be engaged when I discuss my sentiments and opinions.
My husband has taught me that we need to keep walking together in the same direction and be on the same page. There are cases wherein couples don’t know each other anymore because they’ve stopped learning and growing together.
Dialogues like “you are no longer the person I married” would be uttered. At some point, they may have stopped getting to know their spouse.
Conversation is always key in bridging differences and new interests.
9. Eat, Laugh and Pray Together
Eating together without the distraction of TV has allowed us to converse with each other and focus on one another as I’ve mentioned before in my other post, No TV (channels), No problem!
We always make it a point to eat together and face each other (even if at times we don’t want to). Well because there is nowhere else to run to at home since there are no TV (channels) to take us in its arms and let us get lost into it.
On Laughing Together, I am glad that my husband is such a comedian and he has such great sense of humor. He isn’t scared to look or sound silly and that’s what makes me love him more because it means he’s doing what it takes to make me laugh.
My husband has a serious side though. He can get serious especially on matters concerning faith and life. So when life throws lemons at us, I’ve seen how humor can work to our advantage. Whenever we just laugh about inconveniences or when things don’t go according to plan, it eases the tension instantly.
When we do get lost going to our destination, we could just laugh about it and add it to our list of funny adventures. Or if we have other booboos (which I do have a lot of those), well we can laugh about it when we talk about it in the future.
There may be times that it does get the best of us, but knowing that we can laugh about things shows us that yes there is an option and a way out of stressful situations.
Praying Together. It’s hard to get by without praying. In Pre-marital counseling, our facilitator mentioned to us that it is important to pray with your spouse. He does it with his wife before they sleep. It’s not’s just spiritual but it is also practical. Once they have built the habit of praying together, whenever they get into a disagreement, they still need to come together in prayer at night because of the habit they have formed. Thus, it forces them to resolve the fight before it worsens.
My husband and I still need to build the habit consistently. Praying separately is good too especially when we do our morning quiet times with God. But whenever we bow down in prayer together whether before we eat or before we sleep, it gives us a deep and intimate bond and security with each other.
10. Love your in laws
We’ve heard a lot of horror stories about in laws (parents, siblings, relatives) from other people but I believe that we must not let these horror stories get into our head. Or even create our own version of in-law horror story and share it with others.
In Ephesians 4:29 it says, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
In Pre-Marital Counseling my husband learned to ask for the parents’ blessing about the partner they choose to spend the rest of their lives with, and wait (no matter how long) if the parents’ decide otherwise.
Praise God as our parents and in-laws have blessed us and given us away to each other in marriage. We know we can trust them to be there to support us and love us. We must love them as Christ has loved us, protect them and take care of them. We need to involve them as much as possible and share with them our lives as they have given us theirs. My husband learned in GLC 2 in CC that it is indeed important to have our family with us in marriage.
Parents and in-laws are there for a purpose. They may either bring out the worst in us or the best in us, depends on how we view them in our lives. God has taught me just in this season of our lives that He has given them to us as our first support group. Our families should be that – to bring us together than tear us apart. Sometimes we may misunderstand them, but we must trust and believe that they only have our best intentions at heart.
In dealing with our in laws, parents, siblings and other relatives, we must always always try to look at what’s best about them. God has impressed in my heart these verses,
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
As a bonus, my husband and I met up with a pastor and his wife in our first year of marriage for counseling. Counseling is good once in a while so we can evaluate if we are still on the right track with our marriage. We were given nuggets of wisdom and also they recommended that we read the book Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.
A gist of this book would be Ephesians 5:33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
One of the key principles in marriage is that, wives need love while husbands need respect. Just a few pages of the book and we were already blessed. 🙂
God has really brought us a long way from where we were when we first dated until now in marriage. He showed us that even a relationship that started as not glorifying to Him can make a 180 when we allow Him to take over our lives and place Him in our center.
Without Him and if we pushed things in our own way and our own time, I’m sure that we will not experience the blessings, the joy and romance the first year of marriage brings. Sure there are challenges and there can be a lot, but having a relationship with God convicts us over and over again to restore a relationship with our spouse.
The first year of marriage I believe is the most important year as it lays a good, strong foundation for marriage. I remember what Rev. Yu said, (our pastor who officiated our marriage), the blessing and joy of marriage is this: that we will live with two of our best friends; our husband and Jesus Christ.
Indeed, it has been the best year of my married life living with my husband, and my lord and savior, Jesus Christ.
It is a piece of heaven on earth but I know this isn’t happily ever after yet because it can only happen when I finally meet my maker and live in eternity with the loves of my life.
I still have yet to see that the honeymoon phase can indeed last longer. But I am confident in God and that if we lean on Him, He will sustain our marriage and nothing is impossible with Him – even letting honeymoon phase last a lifetime.