Happily Ever After—Or is it?

Happily Ever After—Or is it?

Happily Ever After—Or is it?

Congratulations! You’re married! You made it through the wedding and now it’s time to start your life together as husband and wife.

It’s smooth sailing from here, right?

Well, maybe not. No matter how long you’ve been together, there will always be things you don’t know about your spouse. And these first few months are certainly not free of struggles. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

There are two main areas where you might face significant challenges in these first few months together: conflict and expectation.

Conflict is one of those things that might sneak up on you. Married life is different. Suddenly you share everything—space, a bed, money, a house—with each other. Inevitably, you will fight. If you haven’t fought yet in your relationship, that first fight might come faster than you think it will. That’s okay. Learning how to conflict with each other is one of the most important parts of living together, and depending on how you were taught to handle conflict in your homes of origin, it may or may not be easy for you to learn how to handle conflict with your spouse.

But that’s the key. You’re starting new customs and new traditions together. Your family’s way of handling conflict may not work well or promote a healthy relationship with your spouse. Talk about how you’ve handled conflict in the past and how you’ve been taught to handle conflict so that when you have your first fight the conversation will have already been started.

Secondly, expectations for your relationship, your time, your money, the future, and even what you hope for from your spouse can cause disappointment. If your expectations don’t match up with each other it can be very easy to wonder why your marriage isn’t everything you hoped it would be. This can be eased by starting the conversations and expressing your wishes and hopes to your spouse. Talk with them about what you hope for sexually, socially, and domestically. By keeping the discussion open, it allows you to continue to get to know your spouse and make sure that you’re both on the same page.

If you try to have these conversations and find that it just isn’t working or you keep fighting instead of reaching any points of connection, it could help to reach out to a marriage counselor or an older couple that you trust who you’ve seen work for their marriage and struggle through the hard stuff together.

4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before “I Do”

4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before “I Do”

4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before “I Do”

It’s hard to know what you don’t know until you’ve been to a place you’ve never been. This is especially true in marriage, and there are new challenges every day. Here are some things you might find you wished you knew for just after the wedding.

1 // There will be trouble.

You’re not living with your clone, so don’t be surprised when you have conflict. You are two individuals trying to figure out how to share a life together. That’s not an easy feat.

2 // There will be differences in what you expect.

Going into marriage, even if you’ve talked about your expectations with each other, there will be things you forgot to mention or didn’t think would be a big deal. Expectations, especially unspoken expectations, can make it really hard to live with someone. Go in with an open mind and a willingness to talk about your experiences and expect to compromise.

3 // Sex may not be what you thought it would be.

This is particularly true if you’re both virgins. The tendency is to believe it’ll be the best time ever, and there will be fireworks and the whole thing will be enjoyable. At first, it might not. You’ve never done this before with each other, so don’t worry if it takes time to figure it all out. Be patient with each other and yourselves, and understand that it will work out and you’ll grow into it. If you have concerns about this, talk to a marriage counselor. That way you won’t have to be freaked out about the whole experience, especially if it’s not what you always dreamed of.

4 // Be willing to “leave and cleave.”

One of the hardest things that has to happen when two people get married is that they have to leave their blood relatives. A marriage is meant for two people. As soon as more than that number are involved, everything gets complicated. There are too many cooks in the kitchen or players on the field. Merging your traditions with the traditions of your spouse can be difficult, but if it’s not done well it can make everything harder. Look to your parents as mentors, but don’t be afraid to not do what they say. They are a resource, but ultimately this is your marriage and will be your family. Start new with this other person, and be okay with the struggle that beginning can create.

If you want help working through these or other struggles as you start out in your marriage, please send us an email. We’d love to work with you and help you begin to work through your differences and build a solid foundation for the years to come.

Two Assumptions We Make When We Think We’ve Found “The One”

Two Assumptions We Make When We Think We’ve Found “The One”

Two Assumptions We Make When We Think We’ve Found “The One”

“I think she’s the one for me.”

We hear this phrase a lot when people start dating. Dating can end in one of two ways: (1) you get engaged and then married, or (2) you break up or are otherwise separated.

Looking for “the one” for you can be the most difficult part of dating. After all, how do you know? When you ask your parents, they usually say, “I just knew.” Which, I suppose, was helpful for them. But that answer doesn’t help you know if you “know” yet. So how can you find out if you’ve found “the one?”

Assumption #1: Is this God’s plan for my life?

To have a “one” assumes that we believe God has a plan for our lives and the lives of those around us. Every time one human interacts with another human, we invariably change their life, in a small or large way. Not every interaction is going to be life changing, but every interaction impacts those involved and those who witness it. So, to believe that there is a soul mate out there somewhere in the world that God has in mind for you requires a belief that he has a plan for your life.

Imagine how different the world would be if your parents hadn’t gotten married and raised you, and if your grandparents hadn’t gotten married and raised your parents, and if your great grandparents hadn’t been together and raised your grandparents, and back and back and back. You would not be the same person you are, the person God created you to be, if any one of those pairings was different.

Assumption #2: Is she the one God intended for me?

The second assumption inherent in the question “is she the one God intended for me?” is the assumption that God is involved in these details of our lives. If God is involved, then we can safely believe that he will answer our question with a yes or a no. Therefore, it’s important to take the time to pray and reflect and listen after asking God for guidance.

Some things to look for in a partner are:

Where do they find their identity and approval? From God, or from you?

Who do they encourage you to be? Someone growing closer to God, or closer to the world?

Can you be apart from each other and trust each other to be faithful?

Do you have aspects of your day to day lives that require you to be apart from each other, or are you tied up more in each other than in God’s direction for your life?

Are you both willing to put in the work to continue to make the relationship work, even when it’s hard? Or is one of you more likely to bail out?

And possibly most importantly, do you hold the same beliefs about God, or will you be in constant struggle with each other as you go on in life? To use the biblical term, are you equally yoked?

If you’d like to someone to help talk through some of these questions with you, please send us an email. We’d love to help you puzzle through this part of your life.

Adventures in Dating

Adventures in Dating

Adventures in Dating

Yes! It finally happened! You finally get to go on a date with that guy or that girl. Soon you’ll be engaged and then you’ll be married and then you’ll have kids and then — hold on, let’s slow down. This is your first date. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are a lot of things you don’t actually know about this person.

At this point you may know their favorite color and what month their birthday is in — maybe. You might know if they have siblings. You might know their favorite coffee order or whether or not they like Italian food. But as important as those things are, there are a lot of things more important that you still need to learn about them. And, even as you stand together at the altar to say your wedding vows (hopefully at least a year later), you won’t know this other person completely.

So what does it look like to enjoy the dating stage without jumping ahead to the married stage? How can you keep the healthy distance that will allow you to grow together at a slow enough pace that it doesn’t feel rushed for either of you? How do you stay out of the whirlwind of love that can so easily sweep you off your feet and put you in situations you never thought you’d be in?

Here are some ways to keep things slow in the beginning so neither of you do anything you’ll later regret:

Go on group dates.

Getting to know each other in a group of people where you can see how the other interacts with your friends and their friends, can tell you a lot more about a person than only hanging out with them one on one. Chances are they’re on their best behavior when they’re alone with you. Seeing them with their friends can help you see behind the guards they put up to who they’ll likely be when they’re comfortable with you. Being in a group can also slow down what you talk about with each other, and help the more intimate conversations take longer to come up, naturally slowing down the process.

Be cautious in how you talk to and about them.

Words have more power than we tend to give them credit for, and the sooner you start to call each other “the one for me” or say things like, “You are my world,” or even “I love you,” the closer you grow and the harder it can be to separate if it comes to that. That’s not to say you should go into new relationships expecting them to fail. But there is no harm in guarding your heart and your mind so you keep God at the center of your life.

Learn to be a communicator.

Communicate about all sorts of things, but especially talk about your expectations going into a relationship. What does that look like for you? What has that looked like in your family? What deep-rooted beliefs do you need to be ready to reconsider, because they clash with your significant other’s? Opening this line of communication early on can help save a lot of heartache later.

Congratulations on entering into dating life! If you have questions or you want to talk with a third party, please send us an email. We’d love to discuss these things with you more in-depth.

3 Perks of Being Single

3 Perks of Being Single

3 Perks of Being Single

We’ve all been there at least once in our lives. Whether you’ve just been dating, or have never dated, at some point you’ve found yourself without a significant other. And while this can feel devastating, there are many perks of being single.

1 | You have some mobility

This means that if you feel called to go to Africa and serve, you don’t have to first check with your family. You’re available to give your time where God directs rather than needing to invest it in your family.

2 | You’re financially free

You may not be entirely free of debt, but you only have your own debt to think about. When you’re married, finances get shared, both the good and the bad. With your financial freedom comes the ability to support who and what God calls you to support. While you may not be able to go to Africa, you may be able to help someone else get there. Without having to confer with someone else and make sure it’s financially plausible for a family, you have the freedom to invest in the people and trips God calls you to invest in.

3 | You have the space to fully find your identity in God

As a single person in today’s world, there can sometimes be a habit of feeling inadequate or feeling worthless if you’re not dating someone. The Bible does not indicate that our value comes from being married, or that our worth comes from our partner. That would suggest that everyone who is single has no worth, and that is simply not true. Some people are called to be single for longer periods of their lives, sometimes even their whole lives. These people are no less valuable than those who are married, and their time and energy can be spent in pursuit of God. They can do this without the social pressure to please their husband or wife, and therefore can spend their time striving to please God.

“Yeah, well, that’s all great, but how do I respond when the question comes up at family gatherings? It’s Thanksgiving and everyone wants to know if I’m dating anyone. What do I say?”

I’m glad you asked. There are a few answers you could give. The best answer I can offer is simple: “It’s just not my choice right now.” And if you hope to date, you can say that, too. “I hope to date in the future, but I’m not dating right now.” This offers enough of a reason without having to get deep into your relationship background. Another option would be to say, “I haven’t met the right man (or woman), yet.”

Have questions that weren’t answered in this blog post? Send us an email, and we’d love to connect with you and help you grapple with those questions.

Justin’s Worship Picks

Justin’s Worship Picks

Justin's Worship Picks

All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. | Psalm 86:9-10

We love worshipping each weekend with you. Ever wondered what worship music our staff listens to during the week, or maybe just looking for some recommendations for your morning commute? Check out our worship leader Justin Adams current favorite worship tracks! Stream on Spotify below.

All For Love (Gethsemenene) | Worship Central
The Oil, The Fire | Sean Feucht
Fighting For Us | Michael Farren
Not Today | Hillsong United
You Alone | North Point InsideOut
Letting Go | Steffany Gretzinger