Marriage: Building a Life After that First Carrot

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Marriage is of God.

It’s mind-blowing.

Nonetheless, and like many areas of life, we get attracted to the carrot (fuzzy courtship season) first, before the real deal.

Unfortunately, we naively expect to have a turbo-charged, carrot-filled existence the rest of our married lives.

Without having to plant a single carrot.

Beyond the Carrot.

Mercifully (albeit shockingly), we soon realize that the sweet crunchy carrot we ate in courtship was all there was.

To eat more carrots, we are supposed to get into the business of carrots.

Carrot-planting and carrot-nurturing to be exact.

Dr Gary Chapman refers to it as ‘filling up each others love tanks”

It’s a quick revelation that the sweetness of life and marriage doesn’t just happen by itself. Repeat experiences often require hard work.

Great lives and marriages are about deposits, not withdrawals.

About giving, not getting.

About growing, not stagnating.

About dying to own preferences and embracing sacrifice.

I know. Not exactly the lovey-dovey kind of stuff we want to hear.

But it’s the stuff that actually works.

Learning to be like God.

Marriage is all about learning to be more like God – teaching me to die to self, helping me learn a new hope and faith, one that defies all I’ve ever heard, known or believed.

So instead of spitting out the carrot, stomping my foot (this is not what I signed for!), I have found these two thoughts on marriage encouraging.

1. Love

Love doesn’t always feel good.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Real love is not a feeling but commitment and action.

You do not walk away from your commitment because it no longer ‘feels good’.

You stay and fight.

Just like life, love is a ‘do’ thing.

You don’t just speak about it, tell someone about it, you show it in your actions.

Action that begins in thought and manifests through intentionality.

2. Faith

Marriage demands defiant faith.

Not comfy or timid faith (timid faith is an oxymoron actually).

You can be humble. But not timid.

Defiant faith helps you overcome the early marriage conflicts and adjustments. It’s how you walk into acceptance, appreciation, awe and gratitude.

Faith has eyes that see the future.

Our microwave-give-it-to-me-yesterday generation demands comforts, unity, cleaving and all nice goodies now. If “I can’t have it now”, we reckon God must have moved on to something else and it’s time to move on too.

But faith equals waiting.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.

However you look at that verse, it reads “you’ll wait some'”

Faith is not paralyzed by today’s realities but keeps walking, even when it’s stuttering.

It keeps you in when you want out.

27 Comments

  1. I guess I was waiting for all those who are married already to share their insights 🙂 Just kidding. You have great stuff in the post and even in the comments. Thanks to everyone for adding their insights from experience. I love the aspect of carrot planting and nurturing. Takes work, and that is something most newly-weds don’t expect.

    This “microwave-give-it-to-me-yesterday” mentality needs to be kicked out and as you say – what better way than a relationship in marriage to put it in its place. Today am learning.

    I guess the biggest issue from singlehood to commitment in marriage lies in this, “Real love is not a feeling but commitment and action” Doing a lot of guesses 🙂

    1. Lol, am glad you glean from Comments Jep. I do! The community has incredible insights and wisdom. I am so blessed to be part of it.

      Moving from feelings to commitment and action was the biggest adjustment for me. No pre-marital counseling class can PERFECTLY prepare you for the changes and realities (and i love premarital mentoring!) of marriage. But with God, you can do all things. (i keep thinking that if I made it and am still here and growing, anyone else can!)

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing. Always appreciate.

  2. This is definitely sooo on point…am sure if marrieds would sit and have a discussion around this, we would hav volumes upon volumes of lessons, testimonies, and encouragement…one thing I know is that our mentors used to tell us about the carrots…but for some reason we thought they were wrong and super-spiritual…they were seriously right!! Thanks for writing.

    1. And we also thought they were super-oooold-fashioned! yea, that’s the stuff budding love is made of! lol.

      It’s so true, we learn and grow so much. I pray that marrieds would pass on what they know to others and not keep it to themselves. Mentoring is powerful. Thank you so much for dropping in and sharing.

  3. 13 years of marriage can do that for you. At first in my marriage I was very Intentional, and then I slacked off. And now I am more than intentional on how I react, what I watch, how I treat my wife because of my daughter watching, the world watching and me honoring my wife based on biblical principles. I am so in love with her, that I can’t keep my mind off of her. Ngina, being intentional in Marriage is one of the ways I keep my wife happy, and honor God.

    1. Lincoln, you have a whole blog post right in that comment 🙂 . You have been through such a journey. One key thing I glean off your insight is that it doesn’t matter how things are, intentionality (God-fueled) will bring things back on track. Doesn’t matter how we began, intentionality is what keeps things on track. Thank you so much for adding and sharing this insight. I know your family and the world that is watching is better because of your intentional choices.

  4. Ngina, that certainly has been my experience as married man. I’ve been married to my wife for 10 years, but it was very hard the first year. It’s especially true, that love is a commitment and it’s about action, not about feelings. We have to be intentional in everything we do in our marriages, and putting our spouses needs above our own. I learn this lesson on a regular basis.

    1. Glory to God Juan – 10 great years – through thick and thin – and joyfully standing is such a testimony. Definitely something that our world today needs to see and grab ahold of. Internationalism, backed up by God, makes all the difference. Thank you so much for reading and sharing.

  5. Amen and Amen! After being married for over 5 years I have learned the importance of being intentional about making my marriage work. Love, faith, and hard work are essential aspects to a successful marriage.

    1. Amen Dan. Am always happy and so encouraged (not to mention relieved!) when other wonderful marrieds confirm/affirm the things i share about. Lets me know that we are on the same boat and that God is at work in our lives. Thank you so much for reading and sharing.

  6. The first few years of marriage were hard. Part of the reason was right after we returned from our honey moon my dad got sick and passed away. But even without that, marriage was hard. I had to learn to give in and not demand my voice be heard.

    Thank God He gave me a patient spouse!
    Daily, I learn how to love better. God’s a great teacher!

    1. I’ve had a taste (only a taste compared to you) of what it must be like, juggling a fresh commitment and grief. My husband (then friend) and I began “going out officially” 4 months after my dad’s death. It’s just about the hardest thing – grief always turns our heart inside-out-upside-down. As does marriage. The two together? Takes God!

      I guess making it through such hard times makes you know how powerful and loving God is. Takes lots of death and surrender, but He’s faithful to hold our hand as we totter and learn.

      I wasn’t ms pristine and nice also and i thank God for my wonderful mate! (God just knows how to pair us up, doesn’t He? oh His mercies.)

      1. God is so great- He gave me the perfect mate! Together we have grown up and grown in Christ. It’s been amazing. I know my dad would be proud.

        God bless.

        1. Amen TC! Praise God for amazing husbands and personal growth.

          We’ll have lots to update/talk about with our dads in heaven!

          God bless you!

  7. Nice work, Ngina. The world doesn’t want to hear that it’s not all about them. They don’t want to hear that the more they give the better they’ll be. We as a society want like infants… It is giving that is wisdom. It is all about the action… which really creates the proper feeling.

    1. You have hit the nail on the head Floyd, as always. Giving it away is what it’s all about. We often think that if we receive, we’ll feel better. But its in the giving that we feel better. Thanks so much for sharing

  8. I love the way you put this, Ngina. You have such a great way with words. I definitely agree that marriage takes work and sometimes one spouse is more willing to work than the other. When that happens, it’s definitely a die-to-yourself experience!

    One of the things I love about marriage – and then about having kids – is that it helps you realize how selfish you are. Both give a challenge to grow and change and learn to love like Christ loved the church.

    Both also offer a danger if you’re not willing to take on the challenge because it’s so easy to stomp our feet (I think you mentioned that) and say, “this isn’t fair!”

    In my experience it’s best to let God fill up your love tank because then it’s easier to give grace when you go through those seasons when your spouse isn’t filling it up. Plus it’s a much better position to be able to enjoy and embrace life in general.

    1. I remember how shocked I was when I first saw the depths of my selfishness! I was all tantrums – until i got tired of my own fits and I finally agreed to flow with God’s.
      it’s something I’ve believed for long – that marriage is God’s idea to make us more like himself 🙂

      I hear you in allowing God to fill up our love tanks. Only God has the capacity to meet all our needs. And when we look to Him, we are in a much better place to give as well.

      Dr Gary’s “love tank” thoughts build on the idea of couples speaking each others love language. All of us receive love in a certain way (he lists 5 ways – Words of affirmation, Quality time, Receiving gifts, Acts of service, Physical touch) – and when couples invest in learning and then speaking each others love language, they fill up the emotional love tank of the other person.

      I see what you mean in that if couples try to fill each other up without being filled up by God first, we will definitely leak out! Plus we are not perfect and will never be flawless in these languages 🙂

      Thank you so much for the thoughts and insights.

      1. I read that book a long time ago and loved the ideas in it – I agree that we can reach out in love better when we’re filled up with God and that it’s important to find the other person’s love language and try to love them in that way.

        I was thinking more on the other end of things – that sometimes we expect more of our spouses than they’re willing or able to give at their current level of walk with God or maturity. Those are the situations where we’ll still be okay if we’re depending on God to get our love needs met.

        In the same sense single people who have that type of relationship with God will make better choices for marriage because they won’t feel the need to get married to be happy or fulfilled – they’ll already have that in God.

        1. Oh now i get you. 🙂

          And I totally totally agree with you. God will meet all our needs when we allow Him to – once we stop looking at what we are missing or blaming and staying stuck, He will fill us and give us the power and joy we need for every day living, inspite of our marital reality.

          You have a way of bringing up points that i’ve pondered over recently 🙂 I have a guest posting coming up sometime next week where i talk about singles having their identity firmly rooted in God. And making healthy choices out of that identity.

          Godly minds think along the same lines..lol
          Thank you so much for taking time to share. God bless!

          1. Have you ever watched Francis Chan’s videos on relationships? I watched this one on youtube:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihRmM0aVADUand it was the best marriage and singles advice I’ve ever watched. It was Christ Centered Relationships Part 1 – I never watched part 2 – which is crazy since I like part 1 so much!

            1. No I’ve never watched it. It looks very interesting, have watched a few minutes or so and have bookmarked it to watch later. Thanks so much!

  9. Marriage definitely takes work, but it’s so worth it.

    His Needs, Her Needs by Dr. William F. Harley offers another great look at marriage that I would recommend for anyone serious about building (or re-building) their marriage.

    1. So true Jon – our efforts are worth it.
      I’ve read His needs, Her needs and it’s a powerful book. Definitely gave me a greater perspective in how we are wired.Thank you for that addition.

  10. Tom Ochieng says:

    Very insightful thoughts and facts about marriage….I am in the business of carrots and will not tire getting my hands dirty!.

    1. Amen and amen, my brother! We cannot afford to get tired.
      Thank you so much for reading and sharing.

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