What advice would you give to a soon-to-be married couple?

by Caregiving Questions, Challenging Relationships, Romantic0 comments

Hello! My name is Annette Kuiper. I’ve been blessed from the Lord to be married for 3 years now to a my husband, Tim. I’m 28 years old and am the oldest of 5 children. I’ve grown up in Michigan all my life. My younger brother is getting married this year, and I came up with a letter called “Advice From Your Older Sister”. It was meant to bring up subjects to think and talk about as he is anticipating married life. Now they might help you as well. Most of it has to do with things that, if they are talked out before you get married, will save you a few misunderstanding moments after you get married…even on your honeymoon. I will refer to things Tim and I did that worked or didn’t work for us even though I know the same things may or may not work for you.
  • Bank Accounts
    Will you put all of your money together and have one checking and savings account? Or keep them separate? If you keep them separate, and don’t put each other’s names on the accounts, it could lead to big legal hassles for the surviving spouse if something happens. Also, think about deeds or any other info. Since both Tim and I still work and started out with separate banks, kept our separate bank accounts. We put each other’s name on each other’s accounts, so we’re free to use the money we need from either bank. We have each other’s names on our checks too, so we can pay bills with either account. We believe that when you get married, you’re now one with each other, and that includes money.
  • Paying the Bills
    When living on your own, you each pay your own bills. When you move in together and both of you are still working, either one person’s money will go into the bank while the other pays the bills, or you’ll share the bills. What worked for us is writing down what amount for each bill we had to pay every month. Groceries, gas, church collections, electric, phone, etc. Then we figured out who would pay what each month, and how much we would put into savings. We make that list about once a year because things change…new bills, old bills are crossed off the list, a baby comes along, etc. Here’s one good tip for saving money: we were able to combine our two car insurances with our home insurance and save a substantial amount.
  • House Cleaning
    Yes, cleaning! Husbands: You’re marrying your wife to be your wife, not your maid. Wives: You’re marrying your husband to be your husband for the same reason. (I am not assuming you think otherwise and that may sound harsh, but unintentionally, it happens more than you think). Especially if you’re both working, you can’t expect one person to clean everything for both of you all of the time when each of you takes part in making the mess. With Tim and I, I do more cleaning than he does, but I also work less. He takes care of his own laundry (I don’t fold it like his mom does anyway) and helps with the vacuuming here and there. We also have a small condo and don’t have any yard work. You need to figure out a balance between you both that makes her feel like she’s there to work with you, not for you. Make a list if you need to of what needs to be done when, and who’s responsible.
  • Decorating
    When both of you were living separately, you were used to making all the decisions about where to put stuff and what to buy. Now, it’s your house together. Both of you will need to remember that and ask each other about everything. Do you think this will look good here? I was thinking about buying this to put here, and it costs this much, what do you think? I would like to paint this room this color, do you like it? If one of you doesn’t agree, you have to compromise or find something else. Tim and I had it easy. He really didn’t mind what I did, but I have a hunch it’s not like that in most situations.
  • Making Meals
    It’s hard for the girl when you first get married to know what to make your husband. She wants to make you happy, and when something turns out bad or you don’t like it, it stinks. It usually makes the girl cry. Husbands, make a list for her of some of your favorite foods, and worst foods. It will help. I know the situation could be reversed, and the husband does the cooking. Then the wife could make the list. Also, remember your mom-in-law cooks differently than your own mother. For example, Tim despises his mom’s goulash/spaghetti. So when I made it without knowing he didn’t like it at all, he didn’t even want to try it. When he did try it, he actually liked it because it tasted totally different than his mom’s. Give it a chance. There will be stuff you don’t like, but ask kindly that it not be made again.
  • Children
    Do you both have a want for children? Do you consider them a blessing from God, or will they just be in the way of your plans? What if you have a child with special needs? This subject should also lead to a discussion on birth control. Do you believe birth control is right or wrong? What if your wife must be on birth control for medical reasons? If you desire children and are having a hard time with it, do you believe in going the extra means to have children…IVF,  etc.? In the Bible, Christ was born because by God’s grace the covenant lines were kept alive (Genesis 22:17). Israel wanted, and needed to have children so Christ would come. The devil would have won if Christ hadn’t been born. Today, God still preserves His people from generation to generation (Galatians 3:29). If the devil can convince us that children aren’t needed, that’s one way to stop Christ’s church from growing. Christ can’t come again at the end of time until all of His people are born. Something to think about.
  • Divorce
    Do you believe in divorce? Is it right or wrong and for what reasons?
  • Devotions
    It’s awkward when you first get married and now all of a sudden, you have to read and pray together (even if you do it while dating, it changes when you get married). Get a book to read together if you have to. Since Tim and I wake up at different times in the morning, the first one to wake up writes down what he/she read so the second person reads the same thing. Then, at dinner time, we’ll ask questions or talk about it and pray together. Talk about and ask each other what you would like to see happen. Also, I pray one or two times a week after dinner too…it took me a while to get up the courage, but it’s a good thing. I think of things to pray for that Tim doesn’t, and vice versa.
  • Church
    Do you both go to the same church in the same denomination already? If so, are you both happy there. If not, one of you has to move and that’s not easy. I joined Tim’s church after going to the same church all my life. Tim assumed we were going to his church, and never really gave me an option. I cried. I was hurt and angry. Now I see the Lord wanted me to move, but I sure didn’t see that at first. Lesson learned is to talk about it. Tim was so adamant about not changing, I didn’t want to bring the subject up. It shouldn’t be that way. It shouldn’t be that one of you is scared to bring something up that is close to your heart – you’re married and best friends. This was an incident where we were both at fault to say something and ended up apologizing to each other.
  • Love
    You both love each other! So say it often every day!! When we first got married, Tim said, “So do I have to say I love you all the time?” I didn’t really know what to say to that. Of course I wanted him to, but he sounded like that would be annoying. I did tell him that it’s really nice to hear and I very much would appreciate it. I also say it back every time because I love him too. The more I ask around, the more I (shockingly!!) realized many men think this way. Husbands, think of it this way: Saying “I love you” doesn’t cost you a penny, takes 2 seconds to do, and is the best gift you can give your wife! It makes her day! We have been given the picture of Christ’s love for His church – He died so His church would live! Another way Christ tells us He loves us is through our pastors on sunday when they start the sermon by saying, “Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ….”. Our marriages must want to reflect that love.

I’ve also come into realization that in some situations, the wife will say “I love you” first, and the husband will just let it go, or doesn’t think of saying it back. That hurts your wife! If you don’t say it back (no matter how many times you helped clean the house that week, or made supper, or…), she’ll start to wonder if you love her. So why even let the complications start? Just say it!

Also, don’t forget the random hugs or kisses just because. It will make each of you feel so special and so happy to be together. Husbands, the more you do for her, the more she’ll do for you. The more you neglect or forget to, the more she’ll feel like you don’t want to be with her. Also, say please and thank-you for everything she does for you! Respect her and she’ll respect you.

While this advice I’ve given you here is more practical, may I suggest to you a book that is both practical and very spiritual. It’s called “Marriage, the Mystery of Christ & the Church”, written by Professor David J. Engelsma. It can be found at rfpa.org by typing “marriage” in the search bar.

Please share your comments and additional thoughts below. Do you have a caregiving question?  Ask Karen!

Photo credit: Helen Taylor

 

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder is the founder of the Wisdom of the Wounded ministry. She lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband Larry.

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