Today is my one year marriage anniversary. It is hard to believe that after all those years of being single and living alone that I am really married. I know many people, from marriage professionals to the average married couple, will tell you the first year is a difficult year, but for Jenny and I our first year has been wonderful. That doesn't mean we haven't had our share of misunderstandings, but we have made the transition to being husband and wife very easily and naturally.
One reason for this is because we are at the same level of spiritual maturity. We have both recognized that one of the reasons our previous relationships ended was because of differences in spiritual maturity. It is so wonderful to be able to talk about things of faith and to be on the same wave length.
I would encourage anyone planning on getting engaged or counting down the days to spend time to grow spiritually together. Read the same book together (I have a list of suggested reading on the side of the blog) and discuss it with each other. Make sure you are taking time to pray for each other and with each other (I have some different prayers a boyfriend can pray in this post: Be a Praying Boyfriend).
A second reason our first year has been so great is because we are pursuing the same dream. God laid on our hearts, even before we met, to have a place where people can come to find restoration, to have training, and to be discipled. This has been part of our prayers, conversations, and our plans. Rather than having our house serving as home base as we go out and do our own thing we see our home as the first place our common dream can become a reality.
If you are in the stage of heading towards marriage I think it is very important for you to talk with your fiancee about what you can do together for the Kingdom of God. The first purpose of marriage is to become a dynamic duo for God's Kingdom. God has brought you together for that purpose, and your marriage will only get stronger as you give yourself away to what He has called you, as a couple, to do.
A third and final reason I will share is that we didn't allow our problems to fester. The apostle Paul wrote; "And 'don't sin by letting anger control you.' Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil" (Ephesians 4:26-26; NLT). Keep in mind that anger is not the only way Satan can get a foothold in our lives, and so we need to deal with the whole range of sins and temptations, from anger to lust to gossip, because each and every area gives Satan room to wriggle himself into our hearts and minds. Jenny and I did a very good job at dealing with our disagreements and problems right away and not bringing them into the next day. I think that helped us to stay focus on our love for each other rather than blowing up the problems bigger than they really are.
One of the things our dating culture is very poor at teaching is how to handle conflict and problems. Dating teaches us to run away when things get tough rather than learning to work through the difficulties together. When we don't deal with the problems, when we let the sun go down on them, then we open the door to Satan, and he will do his best to bring division and hurt into the relationship. If you are engaged I would urge you to take some time and work through some of the difficulties and irritations you might already have with each other, because marriage is not going to magically make them disappear. What marriage will do is make them bigger, and that is why it is so important to deal with them as soon as possible. Make sure you do it as gently and kindly as you can and bathe the whole thing in prayer. Remember God wants your marriage to succeed, and so He is a valuable member of your team.
I am very thankful for one year of marriage and for the love and encouragement Jenny has shown to me this past year. It is great to think that there are many more days and years ahead!