Questions from the Bride, Part 2

I’m excited to share part two of this interview with Tami Myer of MannaForMarriage.com. Once more, she graciously answers my questions, drawing from her thirty-plus years of marriage. As a bride-to-be, I so much appreciates her wisdom, and I hope that her words bless you as well.

Bride: Forgiveness is something couples must generously extend, but, of course, that’s not always easy to do in the heat of the moment. What has helped you to be more forgiving as a wife?

Ruth Graham, the wife of Billy Graham, said that “a happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” How true! Learning to forgive is a marriage essential.

In fact, pastor Ron Zappa says, “If you are having trouble in your relationship, I guarantee you’re having trouble with forgiveness.”*

I have had a lot to learn about forgiveness! One thing that I have come to realize is that the moment I sense that my heart has been offended, I must take action. My natural reaction is to sink down into my hurt, to feel it, and to hover over it solicitously.  But that is a dangerous trap! I must act quickly to prevent an offended heart from becoming a deformed heart.

Here are a few key thoughts that I try to keep written across my mind:

1. A chance to forgive is a great opportunity! Forgiveness is perhaps the most powerful spiritual assault which we can hurl against the enemy. The opportunity to forgive is an opportunity to re-enact the gospel. I can advance the Kingdom of God in this moment, or I can walk into the enemy’s snare. It is a God-enabled and God-reflecting privilege to forgive someone, and I am a fool if I harden my heart instead.

2. I do not have the right not to forgive. It is easy to resent the command to forgive. We feel that a burden has been unfairly dropped on us, and we chafe against it. It seems, in fact, that forgiving would be an injustice! But when we think this way, we are believing the lies of the enemy.

The truth is this: it is an injustice for God’s people not to forgive. When we do not forgive, our spirits are demanding payment from someone when God has already paid in full. Insisting that someone still owes us after God has suffered severely for that person’s wrongdoing, as well as for all of ours—this is a great injustice which God will not overlook. (See Matthew 6:15.)

3. Forgiving will always enrich me. Forgiving puts us in a spiritual posture which allows increased intimacy with Christ. When I do not forgive in my marriage, it is as if I am putting up walls around me, creating distance between my husband and myself. My defective sin nature tells me that these walls will protect me. But I know now that walls of bitterness will always entomb me.

Bitterness does not build healthy protection, but forgiveness does. Forgiveness shields me from the corrosive acid of resentment. Nothing a spouse says or does has the power to truly harm us (although those things can hurt!), but our own reactions of bitterness can poison our lives.

On the other hand, forgiving serves to heal me. How encouraging! When I forgive someone else’s brokenness, some of my own brokenness is healed. How could I not see the opportunity to forgive as a blessing from God?

Elizabeth Elliot said that the best consolation is obedience. Perhaps we can adapt her statement to say that the best consolation for hurt feelings is the obedience of forgiving.

When we forgive, we are being conformed to the image of God. We definitely feel   s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d  in the process, but we can be confident that we are being shaped for greater effectiveness and for maximized joy.**

Bride: Do you have any resources you’d recommend to engaged or newly married couples? What are some of the resources you offer on your website MannaForMarriage.com?

Pre-marital counseling is valuable; but in many cases, there is something else that is just as important and even more helpful: marriage mentoring.

In your pre-marital counseling, you are eager to learn, and you are trying to listen, but you don’t really have a hook to hang these truths onto yet. It is like sitting in a classroom and listening to a lecture on how to drive a car. It is hard to fully process that information until you are actually in a car with your hand on the steering wheel. Once you are out of the classroom and onto the road, you suddenly have many “teachable moments”!

Make a commitment now–before you get married–to meet with someone a couple times during your first year of marriage. Schedule an appointment for several months after your wedding with your pastor or with another married couple. Another good option is for you and your spouse to meet with separate mentors.

You don’t need to plan anything formal; it can be a conversation over lunch at a nearby restaurant. But get your plan written on the calendar.

Also, plan to attend a marriage conference together, such as Weekend to Remember.

There are a number of helpful resources on my website, MannaForMarriage.com:

  • I recommend several great marriage books and online mentoring videos on the Resources page.
  • You will find a group code for a $100 discount for a Weekend to Remember.
  • Join us as we pray for marriages! Every Thursday, we “fight on our knees” for marriages for fifteen minutes, and we would be happy to pray specifically for you—just email me at mannaformarriage@gmail.com. You may join the prayer call live each week, or you can listen to the recorded calls at any time. You can find all the information on the Prayer Call
  • Receive a free copy of Your Marriage: God’s Masterful Design, which is a short ebook (PDF) summarizing some of the basic principles of a successful marriage.

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge, its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
(Proverbs 24:3-4 NIV)

I am excited for you, beautiful bride! May the Lord bless you and your husband with great joy as together you build a household of faith.

 

* The Marriage Knot: 7 Choices That Keep Couples Together. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2019. 58.

**Interested in learning more about forgiveness? Here are other articles by Tami Myer on the topic of forgiveness:

Tweetables

Questions from the Bride, Pt 2 – @kjhogrefe & @Manna4Marriage (Click to Tweet)

Ruth Graham: “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” – @kjhogrefe & @Manna4Marriage (Click to Tweet)

Questions from the Bride, Part 1

As a soon-to-be bride, I asked my friend and mentor Tami Myer of MannaForMarriage.com several questions to help prepare me for my wedding this month. Although the wedding event is beautiful, we both believe that preparing for a lifelong marriage is more important than preparing for a single day. Having been on her own marriage journey for over thirty years, she graciously agreed to share some of the lessons she’s learned along the way. Please join me in welcoming Tami! I hope her answers to my questions will encourage and bless you as much as they have me.

Bride: Opposites do attract, and my fiancé and I are no exception! What advice can you give to help us celebrate these differences instead of resenting them?

Yes, celebrate your differences! You will have to be deliberate about doing that, though. Otherwise, you will drift into frustration and resentment.

You could start by making a list of those differences. (And then make another list after you have been married for a few months because you will discover more, believe me.) As you review your “reasons for celebration,” make the conscious choice to look for ways to make these differences work for you, not against you. Where can they provide balance? Where can they add strength? How might they simply provide richness and color? How do they give insight into your different needs and unique perspectives?

Remind yourself—and your husband–that your differences are for accepting, appreciating, and enjoying. Be deliberate about complementing and complimenting, rather than competing and condemning.

As you yield to the Spirit, your spouse’s differences will either delight you or polish you. Either way, they are blessings!

Bride: So often, I hear, “The first year is extremely hard.” Do you agree or disagree, and why?

I am glad that you heard that the first year is difficult because, for many couples, it is! Simply knowing that can be very helpful. It is like putting your seat belt on when the pilot announces that the plane may encounter turbulence: you will be better prepared to handle the situation well.

During your first year of marriage, you might feel as though you are in junior high because everything is intense. It can be an emotional roller coaster. It certainly helps to know that this is normal!

Here are some examples of common first-year turbulence:

  • You think that you made a terrible mistake.
  • You are alarmed that your husband is not the man you married.
  • You panic.
  • You are disappointed.
  • Your feelings get hurt.

When you experience some (or all) of these things, you can come back to this article and check them off your first-year to-do list. Then you can also check off these items:

  • You have many wonderful joys!
  • You experience new adventures.
  • You learn more about the amazing, complex, fascinating person that your husband really is.
  • You learn surprising things about yourself.
  • You learn awesome things about your God.

You will find that you made it through junior high again!  And through each successive year, you will learn how to make it the best one yet.

Bride: Perhaps because I’m getting married in my thirties, I don’t have the “rose-colored-glasses” view that a teen or twenty-something might have. Instead, I’ve seen enough life and marriage struggles to know marriage isn’t always easy. What encouragement can you offer the new bride?

This is a common concern, even for younger brides (and grooms). Many people are a bit hesitant to marry because they have not observed healthy marriages up close and in action. However, they have seen countless shipwrecked marriages, and they wonder if they will be able to steer the ship of marriage any better themselves.

But take courage! It is quite possible to sail that ship triumphantly, and many have done so. It will take work, of course, but sailing is not a mysterious skill. You can learn! You must choose your teachers carefully, but there are many who are trustworthy and who are eager to help you and support you.

Building a marriage is a lot like building a house. Although many have never seen the blueprints, and many others refuse to follow them, there is a reliable blueprint for marriage. Take courage! There is a Master Builder, and He is eager to help with every part of the construction.

Marriage is not easy, but the best things in life never are. In this fallen world, good things are always opposed, and great things are greatly opposed. You must simply remember that you are holding something very valuable in your hands—something sacred. Don’t let go! Refuse to believe that marriage is not worth the effort.

Your marriage is not a hobby; it is a commitment to serve another person, someone made in the image of God. As you minister to your spouse, your submission to God becomes a platform for His Spirit. He will work powerfully and redemptively in both your life and your husband’s.

Marriage is not only like sailing a ship and like building a house, but it is also like growing a garden. You will have to dig up stubborn roots and lug away heavy rocks. You will wonder if the weeds will ever stop coming. But take courage! You will also be planting and pruning, watering and weeding.

And beautiful things will grow.

For more marriage encouragement, check back next week for more questions from the bride, and visit Tami’s website MannaForMarriage.com.

Tweetables

Questions from the Bride, Part 1 – @kjhogrefe & @Manna4Marriage (Click to Tweet)

Marriage is not easy, but the best things in life never are. – @kjhogrefe & @Manna4Marriage (Click to Tweet)