Yesterday marked 18 months of
wedded bliss not killing each other. Husband and I high-fived to that.
In all seriousness, while reading Colossians 3 last night, it struck me how much Paul and Timothy’s epistle could have been written for newlyweds.
Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1 (NIV)
We’re called to act worthy of the new life Christ gives us because He gives us a clean slate when we are brought from death to life in His grace. Doesn’t dating and getting engaged feel like you’re getting a new life? Someone you adore, who adores you back, miraculously agrees to spend the rest of their days by your side supporting you, growing with you, and taking in life with you. They have overlooked (or made peace with) your past. They’re optimistic about your future. Life suddenly feels real, as if this love is what you’ve been waiting for to really start living.
And it IS real, as much as Christ’s love for us is real and tangible. Christians who truly live in the knowledge that Christ took on our sins live as though they are free. They still struggle setting their minds on things above, and not becoming ensnared in the traps of our broken world, but they live with confidence because they know He loves us so much. Newlyweds do the same with their partner: We know we’re not perfect, but we also know that our spouse loves us with full abandon anyway, in earthly and spiritual ways in which no one else loves us.
Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life – even though invisible to spectators – is with Christ in God. He is your life. Colossians 3:3-4 (MSG)
But this new life of grace and deep, deep love comes with standards. Newlyweds are on their best behavior with each other (at least for the first few weeks). However, at some point you must get rid of the unsavory habits that squeak by when you’re single and not accountable to a partner, but don’t fly with a spouse. Undercommunicating. Laziness. Dishonesty. Selfishness.
Whatever your weakness, know that we all possess a few, then work on them. I’m learning not to micromanage my husband. He’s learning how to pick up after himself.
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourself of things such as these: anger, malice, rage, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:7-10 (NIV)
Newlyweds must learn how to put a lid on anger, rage, malice, gossip, and bad language toward each other. I don’t need to go into how anger or rage can damage newlywed life, but those last three are just as insidious.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “malice” as ill will or poison; appropriate because malice toward one another, toward one’s family, or toward your spouse’s friends will certainly seep into and poison your marriage.
You must learn to choose your words carefully. It really is best to follow your mother’s advice and not say anything at all/walk away if you don’t have anything nice to say. Husband doesn’t agree with all that goes on in his family, but he doesn’t like me gossiping about them to my family and friends, either. They are still his family. And bad language doesn’t lift a messy situation out of the garbage and into a better place. The tone of your words to your spouse matter just as much as their meaning. It’s not always easy to speak lucidly and benevolently, but it’s effective if you want to stay peacefully married. I’d be lying if I said I never punt four-letter words at my husband when I’m angry he didn’t pick up after himself in our little apartment. I always regret my choice of words later, though. He is the person I have promised before God and my world to love above all others. Showing him love begins with the words I speak into him.
Sometimes love means keeping your mouth shut. Eighteen months in and husband’s dirty clothes still don’t make it into the hamper most days. But it’s his clothing, not mine. The dog can eat his pants, and I can still choose to love him.
Instead of malice, newlyweds learn to clothe themselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. These are the best traits we can show our spouse, and we learn to consciously put them on the same way we intentionally clothed ourselves in a beautiful gown and a handsome suit on our wedding day. It takes time, work, and lots of prep to clothe yourself the way you want for your wedding. It takes even more time, work, and prep to clothe yourself in these fruits so that you continue to show your best self to your spouse.
But you do it because you realize that you became more alive with this person than before. You love who you are with them. Bear with them and their quirks because they are bearing with yours. Forgive their hurtful actions because they are forgiving yours.
Over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Col. 3:14 (NIV)
Regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Col. 3:14 (MSG)
Realize that love really is the answer over everything. We had a difficult first year of marriage. We’re still standing because we choose to put on an armor of love when we face our issues. No matter the problem, our solution is to always love one another. Sometimes that means putting the other’s needs, or your joint needs, first. I chose husband over training for a marathon. He chose me over staying in his beloved first home.
Lean on Christ when needed. Put Him at the center of your new marriage and stand in awe of the fact that even though the two of you will fail, He will never fail you two. Look up to His example of perfect love, and keep striving to model it.
It’s going to be rough sometimes. Families aren’t always going to get along. Plans the two of you make will fall through. (Hello, 15-month furlough in an apartment.) But if you keep a thankful attitude, act with the full confidence God gives you both, and teach one another in love how to get through those rough times, the highs are even sweeter.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:15-16
Happy 18 months, husband. You make me alive.