Our daughter Olivia just got engaged to a fine young man and we couldn’t be happier (and nor could they!) As I watched them beaming at each other, I wanted to bottle it – young love is just so precious!

As they prepare for their wedding I want to continue to help them prepare for their marriage.  A wedding is for a day – marriage is for life. They’ve made a great start, attending ‘Soul Tour’ and our “Weekend To Remember” marriage getaway which they found fun and  deeply valuable. However there’s nothing like real life… ordinary life…to really learn what it means to sacrificially love another person. Don’t you agree?

And so I was thinking this morning – what are the top tips I should pass onto my daughter?

1) Be gracious and forgiving. I learnt early in marriage that Andy and I had the ability and the opportunity to unintentionally hurt one another.  I want Libby to be aware that the person whom we love the most is also likely to be the person who will hurt us the most  (and visa-versa). But marriage is not the place to hold grudges. Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, made a profound statement many years ago which I’ve clung to….. “A great marriage is the union of two forgivers”.

2) Be intentional. Great marriages don’t just happen. They take time, energy and creativity. And they need a vision.  We encourage folk to plan regular date nights, read marriage books together, have personal getaways. Andy and I made a promise to one another that we would attend some kind of marriage event every couple of years to keep our relationship on track. Little did we know back then we’d be attending one almost every month!

It’s so vital that we invest in one another when life is relatively easy. It’s like a bank – a love bank that we can deposit into.  In the hard times when you’ve nothing to give each other you’re drawing on that investment. Keep your love deposits high.

3) Choose love.  I can’t say it better than the apostle Paul in the Bible  – when we truly love we are “patient, kind, loyal, not proud, not selfish, not demanding, not easily angered and keep no record of wrongs” (Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

People who have successful marriages choose to love even when they don’t necessarily feel like it. They’ve learnt to lead their feelings, not depend on feelings to lead their actions.

4) Be one another’s cheerleader.  The world can be a tough place. At times we can feel vulnerable and lose confidence. In marriage we see each other’s weaknesses right up close and personal. What a privilege we have to build up our spouse and encourage them to be all that God created them to be.

5) Don’t look to your husband to make you happy. Our significance, our security and our self-worth come from God Himself, not another person. When we expect a person to meet those needs a relationship quickly deteriorates – we become needy, demanding and dependent. God wants us to find our value and identity in Him – when we do, we are free to give to, rather than take from one another.

There’s much more I could say to my daughter (and over time I will ) but for now I’ve said enough.  If she can focus on these things then I’m confident that she and her husband can enjoy a fulfilling and rewarding marriage.

Found this article helpful? See more great articles on the FamilyLife website here, or click here to check out their wide range of pre-marriage and marriage seminars.

First published 1 Aug 2016 at familylife.org.nz by Nikki Bray

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