There is one thing for sure, my mom took the scriptures seriously that talks about the older generation of women teaching the younger generation how to be Godly wives. She intentionally counseled me about how to be a good wife starting at the time I was a teenager.
Today, I wanted to share with you some of her words of wisdom regarding marriage. I have found myself beginning a lot of conversations recently with, “My mom always said that….”. So, I thought it was time I shared with you some of the bits of wisdom that she passed to me a long time ago.
Be The Person God Called You to Be
Mom said that before I could be the wife that my husband needed me to be, I had to be the woman God called me to be. If I could just get this down, then I would be the wife my husband needed. All of my mom’s counsel took the focus off of me, and put it on God.
The most important thing you can do for your marriage is to make sure you are in a right relationship with God. This also holds true for any relationship. You could say the same thing about parenting. If you want to be the parent your children need, you must first be the person God called you to be. Your self-worth comes from God and staying in a close relationship with Him is important.
Take a Look At Your Own Actions First
A really important piece of marriage advice she gave me is that before you go to your spouse about a problem you have with them, take a look at your own actions. Mom always said that you need to evaluate your part in the problems before you go to your partner about it. You might find that you are a big part of the problem yourself.
I’ve really taken this counsel to heart. When I have a problem with something Austin is doing or not doing, I take a look at my part in the problem. I ask myself what have I done that is contributing to the issue. More often than not, the issues never even make it to him, because I resolve them in myself.
I find that I am the root cause of a lot of my issues with Austin. Normally, a problem arises because of selfishness, jealousy, or sin on my part. When I am selfish, I have a self-centered attitude and I expect him to meet my needs more than what God designed him to do.
Mom painted this scenario to me to explain her line of thinking. She said, “Keelie if you think your husband isn’t doing enough of something for you, ask yourself if you are doing enough of that same thing for him. For example, if you think he should give you more compliments, ask yourself when is the last time you complimented him”.
This bit of counsel has saved my marriage so many fights. I find that most of the problems I have need to be resolved in my own mind. Austin usually has little or nothing to do with the issue.
They Say All Marriages are Made in Heaven, But so Are Thunder and Lightening
This is actually a quote by Clint Eastwood. I didn’t know that when I was a kid, but it is something my mom used to say.
My mom explained the meaning of the quote like this: there will be times when you are going to fight in your marriage. There will be seasons of storms that come between you and your partner.
She used to say, “In marriage, sparks are always going to fly.” Sometimes the sparks are from romantic chemistry. Other times, it will be arguing and fighting. Those that passionately love each other, will passionately fight with each other.
It has been quite comforting to know that in good marriages, fighting happens. In fact, if a marriage is without fighting, then that is usually a sign that the relationship is over.
Be Kind…Just be Kind
Oh if I had a nickel for every time my mom has said that to us growing up. Even as adults, my mom says that to us on a regular basis. That goes for us as brothers and sister as well as married couples.
My mom told me that especially in marriage, we have to guard ourselves against being mean to our spouses. It is so easy to be mean to your partner. For some reason, we feel like we can treat our spouse anyway we want to, and get by with it.
That is not what the Bible teaches us. We are supposed to be kind one to another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave the church. Kindness is key in relationships.
You Must Learn the Art of Compromise
My mom knows I’m a stubborn-headed mule about most things. She worked especially hard with me about the concept of compromising. She knows that when I dig my heels in about something, I’m unmovable. “You have to be willing to meet your spouse halfway”, she would say.
In a marriage, you can’t dig your heels and refuse to move. You and your spouse are not always going to be on the same page about stuff. In marriage, I wonder how we ever get along sometimes. Austin and I are nothing alike and almost never think the same ideas are good ones.
Since I’m stubborn, this advice has been more than helpful. If I was allowed to go through life thinking I deserved to have everything my way, then no one would stay married to me.
You have to be willing to meet your spouse halfway on just about everything. I’m not saying there aren’t some circumstances in which you have to set a hard line, but there are very few instances in which you can do that.
When Divorce Happens, It’s Both People’s Fault
Ever heard the phrase, “It takes two to tango”? Well, that can be applied to just about anything. My mom told me that when divorce happens, it is both people’s fault. It doesn’t even matter what the reasons behind the divorce, both spouses have blamed the condition of the marriage.
No one is perfect. We are all human and all have sinned. Even if one spouse cheats on the other spouse, that does not mean the “innocent” spouse is without blame. No, it isn’t the “innocent” spouse’s fault that the other was not faithful. However, since we are all sinners, we all have to admit that we did things wrong in the marriage.
I know that is a really foreign concept for divorcees, especially those that have felt wrongly treated. When divorce happens, both sides walk away blaming the other person for the failure. My mom says with no uncertainty, “It’s both your faults this didn’t work out”. Wow, mom….so harsh.
It’s true though. In our marriages, both sides have sinned. No one can be perfect and none of us do everything right. When it comes down to it, none of us can be exactly who the other person needs us to be. That is where grace comes in. We chose to love our spouses in spite of themselves and what they did to hurt us.
I’ll say this later on if you are in an abusive relationship, then you need to get out of it. These bits of advice that my mom gives are not for those that are being abused.
Life is Not Fair
How many times in your life have you said the words, “That’s not fair”? According to my mom, life is not fair. It just isn’t, and we shouldn’t expect it to be.
She said that if Christ had to die on the cross for our sins, then we couldn’t expect to be treated fairly in life. Life is not fair. Things are going to happen to us that are not fair. We are going to do things to others that are not fair.
Stop trying to make life fair, because it isn’t and it can’t be. If a perfect man has to die for the sins of the world, then we can’t expect our life to be fair.
This is a concept that she applied to marriage as well as the rest of my life. She told me that unfair things are going to happen in my marriage. I can either approach it from the standpoint of, “My husband didn’t treat me fairly, so I am not going to forgive him”; or, I can do what Christ did, and forgive him.
You Can’t Change Your Spouse, You Can Only Change Yourself
My mom made it pretty clear to me that I cannot change my husband. She told me that I needed to marry a man I was ok with. If I thought he needed improvements or needed to change, then I shouldn’t bother marrying him. He was not going to change simply because he put a ring on it.
Only God can change hearts and minds, not people. The only thing you can do is to change the way you respond to your spouse.
If you don’t like something about your spouse or something they are doing, you don’t get to force them to change. You have to change the way you react. Pray that God will change your mind about the situation.
Sure, you can pray that God will change your spouse, also, but don’t count on it. Put your money on God changing you, because you are willing and ready.
Don’t Make Empty Threats
Regardless of what the threats are, mom said don’t say anything unless I was prepared to act on it. She said to never threaten to leave my husband unless my bags were packed and I was never coming back. She told me to be a woman of my word.
Empty threats help no one. Saying I’m going to leave my husband or something rash, but not doing it will just serve to damage us. She told me that even if I felt like I wanted to leave, I shouldn’t say it unless I was doing it.
You know what else she told me? If I ever chose to leave my husband, then I best have a place to live. She was not going to help me run away from my problems by letting me come back to her house. (of course, this would be different if I was in an unsafe relationship). My mom is completely against enabling.
She told me this same concept should be applied to every area of my life. Don’t tell my kids that I’m going to do something unless I plan on it.
Sticking with this advice has kept me from saying a whole lot of stupid things in my marriage. Not only that, it has kept me from giving my kids punishments that I haven’t thought through.
Your Marriage is on You
Well, thanks for that mom…my marriage is on me? She told me that I can’t wait around for my husband to fix things in the marriage. I have to take a pro-active role in everything.
If I don’t like the way things are happening in my relationship, then I have to be the one to initiate change. She let me know real quick that pride is usually the biggest reason that people get divorced.
We get stuck on how we’ve been mistreated by our spouses. When we think our spouse has done something to wrong us, then we feel it is their responsibility to fix it. My mom says otherwise.
She says to get rid of your pride and chose forgiveness. Then do what it takes to fix the relationship. We have to do the right thing, even if our partner isn’t.
Don’t misunderstand this to mean that mom was telling me to allow my husband to be physically abusive to me.
To Sum Up My Mom’s Counsel
This article was really long, I get that. Here is how you can sum up every piece of advice my mom has ever given me about anything in my life….be who God called you to be. In case you don’t know, He has called us all to be like Jesus.
When things aren’t going well in your life or marriage, get in a close relationship with God. Be obedient to Him and put your focus on your own actions.
Being married long-term is very difficult. There are going to be times in your marriage where you are working it out and things are going great. There will be other times in your marriage where you are going to be at perpetual odds with each other. Either way, you can have a God-honoring marriage.