Many couples find me online because they are looking for newlywed advice for Christians.
I love helping new couples thrive and recently, I had a talk with my mom that reminded me of my foundations.
We were chatting and somehow ended up talking about marriage. I shared how I appreciated the values she and dad passed on to me and how those values have influenced my marriage
She smiled (well, she used her smiling-voice, she lives in a different continent and we were catching up by phone) and said,
When you have hope, you raise children who see possibilities. They grow up believing that all things are possible.
My mom and dad came from really hard places: “hope” and “possibilities” were not necessarily qualities they grew up with. Their success as parents was a miracle, all things considered.
I cannot recall ever having a conversation about relationships with my parents, yet their values – hope and a can-do attitude – shaped me. It turns out, that hope and grit are caught more than taught.
While talking about values would have been great, living them out significantly impacted me.
Whenever I think about Christian marriage and the Biblical values to align our lives with, I think about that everyday-grit and can-do attitude.
Christianity, consequently a Christian marriage, is not just words but a way of life. It is not wrong to talk about your values (highly encouraged!), but those values amount to nothing if you do not live them out.Christianity, consequently a Christian marriage, is not just words but a way of life. Christian values amount to nothing if you do not live them out.
Today, I want to share eleven values that are foundational for a healthy marriage. For the couple seeking newlywed advice for Christians, these will help build your marriage on that solid foundation that stands up the test of time. .
Without further ado,
Practical newlywed advice for Christians – 11 truths
1. Do not be discouraged by the effort
The word “work” gets a bad rap because whenever someone says, “marriage is hard work,” we tend to imagine “drudgery” and “backbreaking effort.”
Nevertheless, I have learned, after twelve years of marriage and years of marriage coaching, that “the work of marriage” is often a switch of mindset: accepting that a relationship needs our best attentions.
The nurturing of a relationship must be intentional; it does not happen by cruising along.
We would have more marriages thriving, not barely surviving, if we put the same effort into a marriage that we put into dating. No one handed us a thriving relationship on a silver platter; we had to work for it.
Once married, we have to keep that same mindset: “No one will give me a thriving marriage; I have to work for it.”
This single switch of mindset will help you not get frustrated when the union requires a little more effort than you anticipated.
2. Practice the things that got you married
Generally, we prove ourselves worthy of one another’s love by talking, thinking, resolving conflict, respecting and connecting while dating.
A well-adjusted girl immediately drops the man who claims to love her yet yells, demeans, shows disrespect or does not love her the way she is to be loved.
A healthy man will think twice if she says she loves him but doesn’t think, talk, or connect as if she does.
It is therefore, sad that we marry and suffer relationship amnesia. We forget that what got us married is what keeps us married.
As a newlywed couple, life will make a demand on your time and margins. Which results in diminishing attention, familiarity and laziness.
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Gary Thomas, author of the groundbreaking book Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything in Your Marriage writes,
Most of us don’t want marriages where we grit our teeth and tolerate each other just because God’s Word says we don’t “qualify” for divorce. Most of us don’t want marriages where our spouses really don’t like us much less respect us. We want to be cherished, and we want to be married to someone we cherish.
You do not want a marriage where you stay because you have to. You want a relationship that continues to light your fire for as long as you both have breath.
Those tender devotions and attentions you displayed when dating are even more important now that you are married.
Don’t quit giving each other the respect, the love, the actions, and attentions that got you here. Your marriage is depending on it.
3. Honor God first
Of all the newlywed advice for Christians you have heard, this is the one to take to heart.
Your highest call as a Christian couple is to love and please God, not love and please each other.
It sounds simple enough until you start doing life as two.
I was terrified, as a newlywed wife, that I loved my husband too much (yes, there is such a thing). I also wondered whether pursuing God would drain me of all energy, leaving me with zero energy for my marriage.
I was shocked at the effort of marriage.
I wondered how married people stay sane- serving God and being present in marriage because I was at a loss, trying to figure out the balance of Biblical marriage principles and real married life!
Eventually, I learned that there is no competition when it comes to loving God and loving my husband.
Marriage is a gift from God to my husband and me. Further, through Him, I had the capacity to pour my best efforts into my marriage. In other words and Paul writes, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13 NKJV
Indeed, it’s possible to be so consumed with the gift of marriage that we begin to neglect the Gift-giver. We are reminded to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 NKJV
I learned that when we love God first, everything else falls in its proper place. Marriage thrives when God is most prioritized.
As a newlywed couple, create a foundation for where you want to go in your relationship with God – individually and as a couple. Some routines for a Biblical marriage include:
- Personal Bible reading and Bible study
- Church attendance and involvement
- Serving others
- Fellowship with other believers
- Personal growth
- Discipling others
Your goal is to ensure that God is not an afterthought. That you have baked into your routines and lives, your core principles as far as loving God first is concerned.
Here is a post on how you can thrive in your relationship with God as you thrive as a couple
4. Navigate in-law relationships with humility
The moment they put the shiny flowers around my neck I wanted them off. It’s a cultural thing, where we come from. Specifically, it’s my husband’s tribe thing, to adorn new couples with brightly colored decorations on their wedding day.
I am from a different tribe and we don’t do that. So I attempted to take them off. And I was stopped. (Half of our wedding pictures have pink and blue flowers around our necks!)
Looking at these pictures many-years later, I see that family is a lot like these flowers around my neck. You may not always enjoy their input and presentation nonetheless; you do not have to be contentious and disagreeable about it.
We took the flowers off at the end of our wedding day and started our life together without bright decorations around our necks.
I learned that people are in my life for a moment, not forever: Those small moments count.
New couples don’t think about in-laws a lot. Understandably so, for they are extended family. However, it’s important to remember they are there. Moreover, they are part of your new life.
Give yourself grace unconditionally because new bonds take time. In addition, remember that you married each other: so relatives-problems are not marriage problems. (Do not make them marriage problems)
Even so, alongside those things remember kindness, sensitivity and humility. Do to others what you would like them to do to you.
5. Important newlywed advice for Christians – Christian newlyweds have problems too
I am sure you have heard people say that the newlywed years are all sweet and sunshine. And maybe that’s your story, and the statement fits like a glove. I am exhilarated for you.
Unfortunately, for many couples, the early years have more problems than they know what to do with. If you are the new couple who missed the sunshine bus, I want you to know you are normal*
A healthy marriage is made up of more than mountaintop experiences. Great marriages have seasons of heart-numbing lows. Marriage is two people finding ways to love, serve and grow, even in the valleys.A healthy marriage is made up of more than mountaintop experiences. Great marriages have seasons of heart-numbing lows. Marriage is two people finding ways to love, serve, grow even in the valleys.
It seems to me that one advantage of marriage is that when you fall out of love with each other; it keeps you together until you fall in love again – Judith Viorst
Many times, a marriage crisis reveals and affirms the One you have always believed in. God is not only faithful during marital highs. He is also faithful in marital lows.
We can experience Him when life is good and when it is not. I am not saying hurtful experiences and encounters are from God. The Bible is clear that God does not tempt us (James 1:13). Nevertheless, God is with us through these things.
When you feel alone, or doubt your spouse’s commitment to your marriage, do not forget that God is for you. He has not checked out of your life. Keep your eyes on your Savior, not an outcome.
Ps: Here, I am not saying addictions, abuse, or abandonment are a normal part of marriage. They are not. (You can heal those too, where there’s goodwill and desire from both spouses.) The “normal” problems I am talking about here are the growth pains of a marriage, the “iron sharpening iron” ( Proverbs 27:17) as two people learn to become one.
6. Focus on the growth, not just the pain
Perhaps you are the newlywed wife who discovered your groom cheated. Or you are are the newlywed husband who found out your wife kept damaging secrets. Perhaps previously hidden addictions have come to light or worsened.
Your first instinct, like every couple on earth, might be to hide or lash back. However, you mostly feel like you are the only newlywed couple on your street going through that type of trouble.
I am a marriage coach, and I can assure you that you are not the only couple facing a severe crisis: I have talked to spouses working through some heavy stuff.
One of the things that I have observed making the difference between healing and staying stuck in a crisis is the ability to look forward, not backward. The desire to rebuild, not just dwell on where you got hurt.
Now, there is a place and season for grieving. Do not skip or ignore that season!
But alongside that, remember that to heal and get through this crisis, you have to eventually start investing in where you want to go, not just where you got hurt.
You might not trust him in certain areas right away, but you need to start getting healing for yourself. Instead of staying stuck because “I can’t trust him” you cannot trust him, figure out what can you do in the meanwhile?
What boundaries do you need to define? Where have you been overreaching, perhaps mothering, taking responsibility for things you should not?
Where have you been afraid? Where does your spouse end, and where do you begin? What boundaries need to be observed?
Yes, some things take time to heal but in the meantime, what are we doing to make sure we heal? Now that is the place to invest in.
7. Celebrate your quirkiness
One of the things I love about our married dates is my husband picking the bill. I love many other things too, but I really enjoy him picking the tab!
I do not know why that makes my heart so happy because I can use my card/cash, and we are drawing from the same money.
I think it has to do with my strong-dad background. African stone is the material my father was cut from: a tough, sturdy, no-nonsense man who moved heaven and earth to take care of his wife and nine kids. I am also the last of nine kids. I love being taken care of : )
What is your weird? Have you thought about what makes your relationship unique?
Qualities that make your heart sing while others might dismiss them as normal? Quirks that make others shake their head or roll their eyes, but make you believe in miracles? Blends and hues that only you can see?
Celebrate those. Sit for a moment and feast your eyes on them. Do not take the fingerprint of your marriage for granted.
If you do, you start the oh-so-quick slide to the valley of ordinary. At the bottom of that slide are comparison and discontentment.
Do not forget to celebrate your weird. Your marriage is counting on it!
8. Beautiful sex is intentional
As a single girl, I had dreams of intimacy with my future husband. Soon after the wedding, I learned that effortlessness doesn’t go together with marriage: intentional work is a close companion of life-long intimacy.
Great lovemaking is a skill learned over time. However, we can do things right away to make sure that intimacy is not only fun, but also intentional.
– Allow God to transform you. Do not fight Him when He points out small areas of improvement. The fun begins when we are willing to change.
–Become a student of yourself and your spouse. Stop making assumptions.
– Do not take yourself too seriously. If you think about it, sex is funny (the positions, noises, turns, vulnerabilities?). Refuse to approach it like it’s the most serious endeavor on earth. If you do, it might become very dull (or traumatic) very fast!
–Begin to loosen up, permit yourselves to try new things, enjoy and laugh together without the pressure of “perfection.”
I wrote a whole book about sex in marriage. It’s called The Wedding Night: Embracing Sexual Intimacy as New Bride. In it you’ll find all the great ways to embrace intimacy in marriage as a couple and how to keep it fun past the newlywed years.
9. Newlywed advice for Christians – Live within your means
Many couples start their newlywed lives with debt because they bit off more than they could afford at their wedding. Add that to the new-life splurge and pressures newlyweds feel in their first year of marriage.
When I got married, people used to say that you could not wear the same clothes you used to wear as a single girl. Apparently, a new wife = wardrobe upgrade!
It is one thing to splurge on a wedding (and that is okay if you can afford it!) but quite another to continue with that habit in marriage. One of the best gifts you can give yourself is to pay off any debts as early as possible and begin to live within your means.
Hard as that might sound, other options are less appealing. Read this post for tips on how to navigate finances in the early years of marriage.
10. Practice your vow, not your feelings
I don’t mean to crush your heart but a time will come when the freshly-baked feelings of love will take on wings and fly away.
He will do something that makes you so mad that you will second-guess your decision to get married. She will say something that cuts so hard you’ll be convinced you married a total stranger.
In those moments, you will have to decide whether to be led by your feelings, or your vows.
Bear in mind, feelings are not evil. Nevertheless, they are terrible bosses. Fortunately, you can veto your feelings. You can practice love and commitment, even when you do not feel loving or committed.
You can be kind, even when you do not feel kind. Love is a verb.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
11. Learn to talk (don’t try to be mind-readers)
Many newlywed couples assume the ability to communicate well comes baked into the relationship when they hear others say, “You must communicate”.
They do not know that excellent communication is learned, with most people making a mess when learning a new skill.
As you start your married life, embrace the work of connection. Start opening your heart to the possibility that deep connection is an art and skill learned over time.
My husband wrote an article on the foundations of communication in marriage. Check it out.
In my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever after in The Early Years, I have a whole chapter on communication where we talk about what good communication looks like and what to do when it is broken. Learn how to take personal responsibility for communication and how to keep your spouse accountable here.
Newlywed Advice For Christians to Strengthen Marriage
These eleven tips come foremost to mind when I think of newlywed advice for Christians! However, there exists much more to newlywed advice. I’d love to hear from you!
What can you add to these? What principles have made the most significant difference in your marriage? What newlywed advice for Christians would you share with a new couple? Let us talk below in the comments!
Image credit: from Unsplash by Tron Le