Marriage Prep

First, let me offer the disclaimer that I know absolutely nothing about marriage. I only know a very small amount about preparing for it, and those are the insights I want to offer here. (You will also notice that I’m using this post as an excuse to show you more engagement photos*. No shame.)

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Josh and I are part of a marriage mentoring program through our church, and the program involves three main things: monthly meetings with a mentor couple, a weekend retreat, and seminars at the church. Our mentor couple is absolutely amazing, and they’ve done such a great job walking us through the topics in the mentoring curriculum. It’s also worth mentioning that they have a delicious homemade dinner waiting for us each time we arrive, which doesn’t hurt our attendance rate.  I have learned so much from these meetings, with the main takeaway being the revolutionary idea that I am no longer a “me,” but a “we.” Wait, I remember thinking when I first heard that. So… I’m completely giving up my individuality? I soon realized that was not the case at all. Ideally, as Josh and I both submit our lives to each other, we will become better versions of ourselves. Instead of completely losing our individual quirks and character traits, they will become enhanced as we are loved, supported, and encouraged by the other. At least, that’s the goal. I seem to have a weird amnesia thing going on with these marriage lessons. For example, during one session we discussed the importance of making decisions together, as opposed to one person dominating all of the decision making. I nodded along and really did agree wholeheartedly with the concept. Then, the very next day, I made a huge decision without even consulting Josh. I know. I’m learning!

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Throughout this mentoring process, I’ve come to value and respect the institution of marriage more than ever before. It is no easy or glamorous task giving your life to another, but it’s so beautiful in that it is a picture of what Jesus did for us. He loved us so much that He gave up His life to give us a better one. I’m going to be completely honest here- when I was younger, I figured marriage was just a sneaky way to get to stay at home and pop out some babies while your husband toils away at work making the big bucks so that you can have a KitchenAid mixer and granite counter tops. I like nice counter tops just as much as the next girl, but I’m learning that there can be a lot of beauty in mutual sacrifice and submission. In western culture, it seems that we sometimes value our independence to the point of isolation. But biblical marriage puts its foot down and says, no, I’m not going to live for just myself any longer. I’m choosing this other person to put ahead of myself and to serve more than myself and to live out each day with so that I can show them what it looks like to be loved like Jesus loves us. Now that’s a pretty tall order, and I’m under no pretenses that I will be able to do that well every day of my life. But I’m encouraged knowing how highly God values marriage, and I’m certain that He will somehow give me the strength to love Josh well even on days when my heart isn’t feeling very loving.
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As we’ve journeyed through marriage preparation, I’ve felt everything from scared to overwhelmed to excited to grateful. I’ve learned that it is actually possible to love someone more each day, and I hope that continues into our marriage. I’ve learned that it’s really fun to wear a sparkly diamond ring, but it’s even more fun to think about living life with your best friend. I’ve learned that I am extremely selfish, and that sometimes, just the thought of submitting my entire life to someone else makes me want to book a trip to Cancun and hide out for awhile under a straw hat and oversized sunglasses. I’ve learned that it is totally worth the risk of being vulnerable and honest in order to have someone else know and accept your weird little self for who you are. I’ve also learned that marriage would be nearly impossible on my own, and that it is only by God’s grace that I won’t completely wreck this thing.

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“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” -Tim Keller in The Meaning of Marriage

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“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of His body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.-Ephesians 5:25-32

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I’m in awe of how God created marriage to mirror His relationship with Christ, and the fact is, even with all the grace in the world, I am incapable of “doing” marriage perfectly. I hope that in my imperfections, and in my attempts at love that are often strained and limited, I can point my husband to a greater reality, which is an eternal and perfect “marriage” as the bride of Christ. I’m not enough to fulfill my husband, but Jesus is. And my prayer is to love my husband in a way that points to Him. I know I have a million and one more things to learn about being a wife, but for now, I’m going to enjoy this sweet season of engagement and learn what I can, while resting in the fact that God’s grace will fill in the cracks where I fail.

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*All photos courtesy of Rebekah Senter Photography
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