Everyone has an opinion. And we’d sure like yours. If a newlywed came up to you and said, “What sage advice (wise advice) would you give a newlywed”—what would you say? What nugget of truth would you give to that newlywed? That’s the question we’ve been wondering about this week. We’ve thought about what sound advice we would give. And we’ve been wondering what others (like you) would give.
We came upon this question when a radio talk show host told about being asked this question by one of his (newlywed) colleagues. To her, he said, “Be civil to each other. Be as easy as possible to live with. And don’t name call.” Concerning that particular issue, we tell spouses that a marriage license doesn’t give them a license to be unkind. Be civil, and be kind. This radio host then posed this question to his listeners. It was interesting to hear what his callers told everyone. Here are a few of them:
Sage Advice for Newlyweds
“Don’t talk bad about your spouse to other people.” … “Never use the word divorce.” (This comes from someone who was coming up on his 60th anniversary. We’re thinking he lived up to his own advice.) … “Have lots of sex.” (One wife said, “I figure that 20 minutes or so of an investment that brings my husband so much pleasure—why wouldn’t I make that investment?”) … “Marriage must have forgiveness. You BOTH do things you shouldn’t at times. So forgive and move on.” … “Never fight about money.”
This is the same advice the pastor who married us, gave to us. He made the point, “By time you’re ready to fight about it, you already have a problem. So why fight? Why not just work on the solution instead?” And we have followed that advice all these years.
So, Steve and I asked that question to other married people we know. Here are a few of their opinions on the “sage advice to give to a newlywed.” But they’re great insights that can help most any spouse—no matter how long you’ve been married. So read, learn, and see what you think.
More Sage Advice
The following sage advice comes from someone who has been married for over 52 years. He said:
“The greatest love of each of our lives has been Jesus. We’ve found that the more we love Jesus, the more we love each other. Jesus brings cohesiveness into our marriage relationship.”
His son related to us that this was the best advice he and his wife received. And then he added his own marriage tip that has helped them throughout their 28 years together.
“Bring humility into the relationship. Make sure you sometimes admit to your spouse: ‘You’re right and I’m wrong.'”
And then his friend, who has been married 26 years said:
“When you marry, make sure it is a lifetime commitment. When you hit rocky times determine together, no matter what – ‘We WILL get through this together with God’s help.’”
On the tail end of this sage advice, I’d like to give the marriage nugget that has helped us more than any other. Here it is: Work, for the rest of your life together to become a student of your spouse, and a student of marriage, from God’s standpoint. Continually strive to reveal and reflect the love of Christ in every area of your marriage. And as you do that, you just may find that others will be drawn to want to know your God better because of the ways you interact with each other.
Here’s a bit of advice that we heard a number of years ago. It has inspired us a lot when we have gotten involved in “right fighting” with each other. “When both spouse’s strive to seek the Light (of Christ) rather than striving to be right, a lot of your marriage problems will resolve themselves.” This is so, so true! It’s not about who is right, but what is right. What is the best approach to the problem that will make your marriage healthy, loving and strong?
Someone who has been married for 15 years said this: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Let it go.” And then the following tip comes from someone who has been married 36 ½ years. She said, “Have fun; be patient; accept each other’s faults, and go for the adventure.” And then she said, “Also, don’t take yourself too seriously; life is too short.”
This goes along with the sage advice that someone who had been married 19 years gave. “If you don’t like each other, learn to like each other again. You did at the beginning. Put the effort in to learn to like your spouse at this stage of your life together.” And then she said, “If there’s something your spouse loves to do, learn to do it.”
Sage Advice for Married Couples
Another spouse who has been married for a number of years said, “Marriage must have forgiveness in it for it to be a good one. Work on that.” This goes with something that a spouse who has been married over 50 years said, “Don’t go to bed angry.” … Another spouse married 9 years gave the same advice and then added, “Just say sorry, and get over it. Dragging conflict out will kill your marriage.”
This man’s wife of 50+ years said, “Don’t quit when things go wrong. Things happen and you can’t just quit.” This goes along with a married study that Prevention Magazine (and other publications) pointed out:
“In studies of 700 miserable, ready-to-split spouses, researchers found that two-thirds of those who stayed married were happy five years later. They toughed out some of the most difficult problems a couple could face… What was their strategy? A mix of stubborn commitment, a willingness to work together on issues, and a healthy lowering of expectations.”
When I originally came across the result of this study I thought about prayer. I thought, if those couples could get to a happier place in their marriage with “stubborn commitment,” how much more so could this happen if these couples prayed? What if they let God lead them to repair their marriage? Prayer, letting God lead, persevering, and being willing to work on issues, can be marriage changers. Too many couples quit before their marriage can get to a better place.
Back to the Question
Now, back to the original question, “What sage advice would you give newlyweds?” And we add… even those who have been married for a (long) while.
One husband married 50 years said, “Practice saying yes, dear. Listen more than you speak.” (As a matter of fact, many, many husbands said, “Say yes dear whenever you can.”) … And then a wife married 55 years said, “Tell each other you love each other everyday.” To that, we say, amen!
And then, here is some sage advice from Steve:
You’ve heard the Bible says, “Don’t go to bed angry.” Cindy and I used to think that meant we had to resolve our conflicts before we’d turn out the lights. That is definitely the best strategy. But sometimes nightfall would hit before the conflict was resolved. This often lead to both of us feeling frustrated because we would stay up late to try to make that happen. But when you’re tired you don’t often wisely approach conflicting matters. It just didn’t work for us to stay up late and work through our issues. So the following has been a smarter choice for us.
If we can’t resolve our conflict before bed—we “table it.” This is not a ploy to get out of working on the problem. It just delays it so we talk it through at a wiser time. It’s amazing how different problems can look after a good night’s sleep!
But make sure you don’t stew over the problem after you go to bed. Instead, give your anger and the problem a rest. Additionally, make a pact to come back to revisit the issue at a mutually agreed upon time (the next day). Both spouses then give the matter to God, asking Him to give you peace so you can sleep.
If the problem comes to mind keep throwing those thoughts away from you. Pray and put pleasant thoughts in your mind instead—ones you can sleep upon. Be persistent to do this as often as is needed. Rest in Jesus so you can come together the next day with a new mindset to work to resolve the issue.
This sure has made a world of difference in how we resolve late night conflicts in our marriage.
Here is more sage advice that I was able to gather from some men I talked to at our church:
One husband said:
“Love the other person as they want and need to beloved; not as you want (or feel) they need to be loved. To do this requires an ongoing process of being a student of your spouse and to love them as Christ loved His church.”
Here’s another spouse’s “sage advice” for newlyweds:
“Don’t worry about the fact that you’re both ‘different.’ Differences are actually good; God designed our marriages this way. The important thing is to seek to understand that each of us are different. And then remain patient and calm as you work through your differences. And always remember, the ultimate goal is to love one another because ‘love covers a multitude of sins.’”
This is the sage advice a husband gave directed to other husbands:
“Learn to define what it means to be a leader in your home. Then, step into that role. Learning to lead is an ongoing process. Following the example of Biblical leadership means seeking to serve and lead your wife and family in humility. The best way I have found to grow as a leader is to have a mentor to guide you and be a model for prayer.”
Tips for All Who are Married
Here’s another tip for newlyweds and “oldly-weds”:
“Always treat each other respectfully, both in public and in the home. And don’t talk behind one another’s back to friends or family. You always need to be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader—with everybody.”
Someone once told me:
“You’re going to be together for a long time. Never forget the reasons for your decision to start this trip together. Remember also the dreams you shared in the beginning that can be hard to reach as life presses down on you both. As you float from one anniversary to the next, the best advice for newlyweds is this: ‘Love each other one day at a time for life.’”
Someone else said:
“Don’t fight over or about money. No one wins. If there’s not enough money left over after you pay your bills every month, then you have a problem that needs to be fixed. And it’s easier to fix this problem early in your marriage before things really get out of control.”
On this issue, here’s some great insight from the Guide Doc web site:
“A researcher from Utah State University found that couples who argue about finances at least once each week have a 30 percent higher chance of eventually divorcing than those who argue about money less frequently. As a new couple, you’ll be amazed at how fast your money goes. Try to track every penny, hire a financial planner if it helps, and remember that asking in-laws for loans is a quick way to start fights between you.”
That’s profound! But this is even more profound. It’s the wisest advice of all. That’s because it comes from the Bible, in Ephesians 5:1-2.
“Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
May it be so, Lord! May it be so—for everyone who has read this Marriage Insight!
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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