As we have become busier and the pace of life faster, searching for ways we can strengthen our marriage, train for a marathon, raise our children, and still have dinner on the table by 6 is common practice. And with the resources at our finger tips, it has become part of our daily routine. Your baby has regressed in his sleep? No problem, enter “baby sleep regression” into your Google search engine, and watch the answers roll in before you even hit enter. Picky eater that has seemingly been able to stay alive on Saltine crackers and processed cheese for a month?! Just ask Siri, not only will you find recipes that will save your sanity and your child’s life, but your solutions will appear in order of popularity—tried and true remedies. Marriage on the rocks? Yup, we’ve all done it. And I, for one, have received the best book recommendations off of some midnight search binging. I often wonder what we ever did before the internet???
But when is it all too much? Have we traded in generations of wise council for the convenience of technology—dressed in romantic images and glorified solutions?
Recently, while I was nursing my daughter and surfing my phone I came across a beautiful photo. There was a stunning woman and she was staring deeply into a man’s eyes. They were surrounded by moss covered trees and greenery— a very peaceful and scenic backdrop. The image intrigued me so that I began to dig into who these people were. I clicked into the profile, and I began to read into the winsome woman and her guy. A new mom, enveloped in faith—head over heels for her adoring husband. Did I mention they were beautiful? Before I began to explore, leaving social media and heading into her website, I already liked her. Seriously, what wasn’t there to like? Upon my arrival to the site I was, again, greeted by more stunning photos, but before I could hit the menu button a pop up came up on my screen “Join thousands of others. Sign up, and you can download my journal on how to strengthen your marriage.” This immediately gave me pause, not because I was being invited to join the masses of the page. No, in all fairness if you’re reading this, I too want you to join the ranks of my page! The invitation to download this “journal on marital bliss” stopped my acoustic record in its tracks because I couldn’t help but wonder, “How old was this bride?”. How long had this couple been happily married before they started their journey in helping others achieve a successful marriage?? It was obvious, they couldn’t have been married more than a few years—two to be exact.
I was reminded of a service my husband and I attended. Our pastor began speaking about the different small groups that would be taking place for the new year. The first one he introduced was in, “Marital Mentorship”. He invited those who were newly wed, or engaged, to attend. And then he requested for people that were married “eight plus years” to sign up as mentors. My husband and I looked down the row at each other, four of our kids sitting between us, staggered. Sure, we fit the criteria as we’re coming up on 12 years of marriage, but neither one of us felt we were equipped to be the counselors in anyone’s marriage. We agreed that we’re in the trenches of life— constantly finding a balance between being good parents and good spouses. Sometimes we knock it out of the park, but there are many times we fall very short. And that’s ok, but we both know that we’re not in the season of stewardship. Instead, we look to the many couples surrounding us. Husbands and wives that have weathered their marital storms and lived to tell about it. Men and women that, together, had seasons in which love and success were abundant. But can also, in the same breath, share a tale about the time they lived on peanut butter and jelly, with just eight dollars in the bank. Those stories show decades of commitment, those are some of the unsung heros in our marital communities, and it isn’t likely that we’ll find their testimonies on social media or in a blog.
So, when it comes to our marriage who should we seek advice from? Who can we trust to lead us down the right path when we’re in need of guidance and encouragement?
This can be tricky, but—The one who walks with the wise will become wise–
My first prerequisite for wise council in my marriage is to take it from those that have been married longest, not because they’re perfect, but because they’ve experienced mistakes and failures. We tend to seek advice from people who seem to have it all together. And it’s possible, after a couple of years of marriage they still do have a fairytale life—but it’s only through time that they’ll experience peaks and valleys. Like everything else, it’s trial and error. Only then will they have enough real substance to share their marital truths and worthy experiences.
Are you seeking advice from a bias person?
My next suggestion varies. I would say that there are some young marriages that have a prime example to follow in their own families. Parents can be a great tool in young marriages. However, how honest are they willing to be with the bride and groom? Will they choose to spare their son’s or daughter’s feelings over what really needs to be corrected? It is extremely important to recognize when a person is bias before you consider using them as a resource for marital guidance, actually that is true for any situation. Seek advice from the people willing to be honest! It’s human nature to gravitate to people that will tell us what we want to hear. Fight the urge, and go with the ones that will “tell it like it is”—that can often times mean NOT going to mom and dad.
Who is the council’s counselor?
Oooh, this one is my favorite. You know how they say parenting doesn’t come with a manual? Well, that is, in large part, very true. But guess what does? Marriage! Marriage comes with a manual. And if you haven’t already guessed which book I’m referring to, it is “The Bible!” Really and truly, everything you need to know. How to love? When to love?Who to love? —1 Corinthians 7–40. It’s all right there:). So, the people I trust to speak into my marriage should know, and have used, that “manual” to walk through those dreaded valleys and back up to the peaks.
I’ve only gotten this far. On February 4th, my husband and I will be married a dozen years:). And just as I said before, we don’t have it all figured out. But there’s a glue in the center of our marriage that holds us together, and there’s no denying that.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins— 1 Peter 4:8