The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has a blog challenge this month, asking us to post each week about wisdom or encouragement about marriage from various sources.
This week, we’re asked to write about words of wisdom and encouragement from family.
And I am completely stuck.
I remember no words at all about marriage—not from my parents, grandparents, in-laws, or other relatives. I learned lots of lessons about gender roles (not particularly good lessons, either), but I remember no words about marriage, encouraging, wise, or otherwise.
The lessons I did learn about marriage were through actions rather than words.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words . . .
One thing has come to mind, and while it isn’t specifically about marriage, it is something that proved to be a huge encouragement to me as I worked on making changes in myself for the sake of our marriage.
I remember my father as a very angry man when I was young. I don’t remember ever being hit, but I remember a lot of yelling, with me feeling afraid and distressed quite frequently
When I was around ten years old, though, I noticed that he was no longer like that. My dad had been angry, and then he wasn’t. Even now, forty years later, he isn’t like he once was.
Throughout my life, I have frequently heard people say, “People never change.” I knew better, because I had seen it happen in my own family.
I have no idea how this change happened in my father, but it became part of how I viewed the world. I was witness to growth.
People can change.
When I faced the knowledge about how I had been hurting my husband in my lack of sexual connection with him, I had absolutely no idea what to do or how to do it. What I did know, however, was that it was possible to change.
As I began my journey of change, I clung to that knowledge time and time again: Change is possible. My dad did it, and now I’ve done it, too.
. . . But Words Still Matter
Actions may sometimes speak louder than words, but I find myself surprised that there were no words at all about marriage—at least not any that were memorable.
It makes me wonder what words of wisdom and encouragement my husband and I are passing on to our kids (all young adults who are single).
They have all noticed that Big Guy and I are happier. They know that we have a sexual relationship. They see us respond to each other in difficult situations. They hear us apologize to each other. They see us hold hands, kiss, and snuggle.
Our actions do matter, but as I’ve been thinking about this post off and on over the past month, I’ve been paying attention to the words our kids hear from us about marriage.
I am thankful and relieved that I have observed that we do speak about marriage. We’ve had quite a few opportunities, as one of our sons has been going through a relationship break-up.
Here are some of the things we’ve said:
- Marriage can bring out the worst and the best in people. Before you marry, think carefully about whether your best is enough to deal with the other person’s worst.
- Feelings are important, but her feelings shouldn’t drive your decisions.
- Your needs are not more important than your spouse’s, and your spouse’s needs are not more important than yours.
- Once you have sex, you are part of each other permanently. It’s one of the reasons it is best to save sex for marriage.
- One of our biggest relationship regrets is not waiting until we were married to have sex with each other.
- Love is a decision, not a feeling.
The actions we show in our marriage say these same things to our kids, but I’m glad we use the words, too.
What wisdom and encouragement do you pass on to others about marriage, in deed and in word?
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18