I have a friend who just got engaged. And all those wonderful “we’re in love” photos are starting to pour in through their Facebook feed. The all too familiar, “nothing’s going to stop us….we’re in love til the end of time” faces are being made in ‘selfie’ after ‘selfie’ upload. I’m about 650 miles away from the epicenter of this amorous explosion…but this morning after not uploading an entry into here for quite some time I felt moved to share a gift. A Solomonian “Proverbs for the new Fiance” guy.
1. You are incapable of loving your fiance the way she needs to be loved. The single best piece of advice came to me via Pastor Jerry Bonfiglio of the Church of the Nazarene in my hometown of Patchogue, New York. He explained to me that my fiance Karen and I were, well, incapable of loving the other person the way we needed to be loved….the 100% fullness that only a relationship with God via Jesus Christ could bring. He explained that it was only as we each individually moved towards God, that we would be moving towards one another like a triangle…and that moving to Christ would consequently move us towards one another. Once I understood that my soon-to-be wife could never love me the way Christ did – I was free to release her from that obligation and serve her from the overflow of Christ’s love. More on that in number 5.
2. Take your charge cards, and shred them. (Why are you still here, reading this?). Want to eliminate the number one source of stress in your new still-gooey in the center relationship? Burn the VISA. Sit down, the two of you, and put it all out on the table. All the credit card statements…all the cards….and if you have the nut sack for it- a 3rd party whose good with money (someone that you both look to as “successful”). Chances are that one of you is a saver/miser, and the other is a spender/hoarder. These things are okay – but in the absence of balance, horrible events are going to occur. Debt = slavery. Without debt, the 3 of you can live wherever you want – go wherever you want. Work wherever you want. Most everything you enjoy doing together (if you think about it) doesn’t cost much – if anything. When you first get married, you’ll want to “fast forward” your lives and have a Pottery-Barn existence. Don’t fall for the trap – I’M VERY SERIOUS ABOUT THIS. As you get older, you’ll have more experience, and make more money. Your lifestyle will grow with that experience. Eating dinner on a Walmart table when you first get married is fine. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Eating dinner on a charged solid oak wood table is the absolute worst way to start.
(Along these lines – don’t go into debt for your wedding. Weddings are supposed to be about people coming together to bless you, and filling your sack with checks and cash to help you get started in your new life. You both live on Long Island – and the temptation to spend $150 per plate to impress your family is gargantuan. Don’t do it. Find a VW Hall, and rent it out. Get normal food. Go to the beach or a park for photos. Make sure when you get out of that rental car on the way home after your Honeymoon that you are cash positive, with no debt).
3. Don’t fight about sex. It’s a weird, icky thing to say to someone, but don’t do it. You’re both coming into your marriage with different expectations and experiences from other people. When you’re together, all of those expectations and experiences come with each of you into the bedroom. As a husband, you need to understand that your wife is differently wired. For her, it’s an emotional experience. It could take 3-4 hours, or even an entire day to be “in the mood”…and you have a responsibility to her in that process. Make a vow to promise never to fight about it….people get really weird when it comes to this. As a husband, resolve in your heart that it’s better to go to bed without it, than fight about it. You’ll live…you will survive it for a night or two.
4. Your wife wants to be part of your adventure. Most marriages that I’ve seen fail, failed because the husband kept his wife at arm’s length. Put your wife “on the horse” with you. She’s not a hood ornament – or ‘arm candy’. She wants to hear about your day. She wants to hear about that guy at work whose a jerk. She wants you to hear about the lady at the supermarket who stole her spot. All of it. If you go on adventures – invite her into your world and take her with you. It’s all because of this next thing…number 5.
5. You are one flesh. Take a yellow piece of Play-Doh. That’s you. Take a blue piece of Play-Doh -that’s her. Now take the two and “smush” them in your hand. Roll them around together until the blue and yellow start to “marble” in each other. When you’re married, as a Believer – Christ makes you both “one flesh”. 99% of couples don’t understand this. You’re soooooOOOoooo intertwined that you’re like the Play-Doh – inseperable. Divorce according to Jesus is impossible in this sense – that you will always-and-forever be intertwined like this. Bro – fall into your wife to be. God has put the parts of you that are lacking in her. He’s put parts of her that are lacking, in you. Often times, you’re going to fight with each other and forget that the answers to the questions you’re asking – He’s put them in her. She is your “help mate”, which translated in the original Hebrew means “life saver”. She is Wonderwoman to your Batman. Resist the urge to say things like, “you just don’t understand”, and “let me worry about it”, because that’s horse crap. Your wife will know things that you can’t see. Her intuition about things is to be valued and cherished. DON’T MAKE BIG DECISIONS without her input. You’re “one flesh” and the sooner you start acting like it – the easier your marriage will be. Remember – you are now ONE PERSON. One person doesn’t argue with itself. Go – buy Play-Doh, and make a “one flesh” ball. Put it on your mantle in your apartment. You are going to be one person with someone soon. Don’t fight it – embrace it. There’s so much power in it, you have no idea.
6. Most people are getting divorced today because they are having intimate emotional affairs online with people they used to know, or date, or have sex with. I know of at least 6, including one couple that just got divorced. The woman is now with the best friend of her first ex-husband – a creepy guy that brings the absolute worst out in her. The point is – you have a constant temptation now via the thousands of posts and hundreds of pictures archived ready for you to review at a moment’s notice online. Don’t do it. Give each other your Facebook and email passwords. Commit to be transparent online. I have another good friend who came back from a sexual affair to be restored to his wife. An old friend from his past PM’d him on Facebook, and they “hooked up”. Now, he and his wife have a mutual Facebook account – what he sees, she sees. Your friends will tell you that’s horse s**t. They’ll tell you that their social media stuff is no one else’s business. If they say that, tell than Mike said to tell them they’re ass*****s, and get new friends. I can’t be more serious about this.
You two are one flesh soon. Divorce isn’t a one night decision. It’s a slow grain-by-grain erosion of the beach of your life. Someone is waiting in each of your pasts to come back and get what they used to have. Someone in each of your pasts doesn’t care that they will be destroying each of your lives, and the lives of your children. They’ll want what you have, and will convince you private message by private message that life is better – hotter – sexier – more fun with them. I’ve seen it 6 times in the past 20 years. Each time everyone said, “we never saw that coming”.
7. You are the “keel” in your marriage. A close friend of mine told me this once, and I didn’t get it at first, but when I did, something clicked. The keel of a boat is a huge rudder like thing that extends a huge distance under the boat and keeps it from flipping over. Google the word, “keel” and see what it looks like – because that’s your job now. The s**t is going to hit the fan…especially in the first 12 months of your new marriage together. You’re the keel. Keep calm. Recognize this is a marathon – not a sprint. Don’t lose your mind when your wife loses her mind (she will lose her mind). This is the person you would stand in front of a loaded gun for. The person you would die for. Resolve that as the world around you looks like a tornado, to draw closer to her – hold her tighter. Sit longer on the couch, saying nothing – without the TV on or the phone in your hands. Be an anchor for her – a keel. You keep the boat upright when the wind is coming from all different directions. Get a tattoo on your hand that says, “I am the keel”. It’s an awesome responsibility, and you will fail more times than you succeed at first – but over time, you’ll be better.
8. Apologize. Practice saying, “I’m really sorry – would you please forgive me?”. Say it a lot. Right now, you don’t. I know because you’re not married. You’re not one flesh yet. When you marry each other – the Play-Doh-coming-together times hurt. All the junk each of you bring to the marriage is in there with you. All the junk from each of your parents. All the junk from each of your past relationships. It’s all in there, like tiny razor blades in the Play-Doh mix. You’re each going to be asses to one another as the one-flesh starts happening. Especially in the first year together. “I’m really sorry – would you please forgive me?”. Say it now. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Every fiber in your body will bow-up at times and convince you that you’re right – and she’s wrong. “I’m really sorry – would you please forgive me?”. You’ll have logical reasons for everything you’re saying, proving why she’s wrong. “I’m really sorry, would you please forgive me?”
9. “I don’t know”. Practice saying, “I don’t know”. Because 99% of the time – when you’re absolutely sure about something, you really don’t have a clue in hell, as a husband to this beautiful new soon to be wife of yours. Most of the times, you’ll act like you’re sure about something because you want her to be quiet and leave you alone (see number 10). I’ve been with my wife since 1991. That’s almost 25 years of not being apart for more than a few days here and there. Life got easier when I – as the husband – started saying, “I really don’t know”. It opens up the possibility of the two of you figuring out something together. Of her seeing that you’re humble enough to admit when you don’t have a freaking clue about something – and it’s time to cling tighter to each other. When you are sure about something in the future, she’ll know that you mean business too and will listen more intently.
10. Don’t pull and “Adam”. The worst thing you can do to your soon-to-be-wife, is leave. Leave during an argument. Leave the house/apartment. You can “leave” and be in the room with her – and you’ll hurt her when you’re fighting by not talking to her. You’ll shut her out, and “abandon” her. My mom said once when she was fighting bad with my father that “you can be more alone with someone in the room with you than when you’re by yourself”. Brother – don’t make that mistake. Don’t leave. Be present with her. It’s going to hurt like @#@()#(%@, but you sit there, and you stay open. That’s the “cleaving” Jesus talked about. That’s the one-fleshing. Stay. If you don’t know what to say, you sit there and shut up and listen. If you think you do know what to say, start out with , “I’m sorry”, followed by, “I probably have no idea what I’m talking about”, and then say it. When Eve ate the fruit, scripture says that Adam was standing right next to her – doing nothing. We’re wired to leave, and to shut down – shut out our life-helper. Don’t do it.
Bonus # 11
Love your wife like my neighbor Mike Ballard loved his wife Sandy. Mike had dreams and aspirations – but he put his wife’s aspirations and dreams above his own. He wanted Sandy to be a great real-estate agent – and encouraged her throughout her sour deals and slow economic cycles. He saw himself as a catalyst of support to help her achieve the dreams she had for herself. He loved her enough to serve her and be her biggest cheerleader. What are you fiance’s dreams? What does she want to accomplish in your life together? Be careful here – this is sensitive touchy feely stuff. Nothing is too big, or too small. If you’re lucky enough – she’ll share with you. Make note – and make them happen.
I love you brother – and I want you to know that I’m here for you guys, whatever you need. I want you to be James Garner at the end of ‘The Notebook”, laying next to your wife in a hospital bed. From “I do” forward, your job – your purpose in life (apart from pursuing Christ) – is to be the best husband you can be. If you’re the worst at everything else, and accomplished that in the end – you will have done something truly, truly amazing. That’s my hope for myself – and my prayer and hope for you both.
Bonus # 12
Time, goes by so fast you have no idea. Even now, you think you have an idea. You don’t. Don’t blink, brother. Love fearlessly, and make the most of every day you have together in your new little family. Life without regrets, because we only get so much time on this little blue marble.