A Few Words of (Marriage) Advice
Written by Erika Castiglione
In honor of Valentine’s Day and the Waypoint’s marriage conference “Growing Together in Christ” coming up I asked a few couples who have been married for at least fifteen years to share a piece of advice, a practice, or a passage of scripture that has been encouraging or instrumental in their marriage. Here are the gems I received:
“Pray, pray, pray. And then pray some more. (The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. —-James 5:16, New Living Translation)” -Stephen and Cathleen Buckley, married 28 years
“When it comes to showing hospitality to others as a couple, pick a play and run it every time. For our house, we developed a habit of having people over for pancake breakfast on Saturday morning. It's ideal for us because the menu is simple, low stress and we almost always have all the ingredients without any advance notice. Saturday morning is usually easier to schedule and provides a nice long time to chat after, without rushing off for kid bedtimes, etc.” -Nathan and Rebecca Clendenin, married 16 years
“A piece of simple marriage advice adapted from Psychologist John Gottman: Pay attention to your spouse. Paying attention and listening are a simple, but a powerful way to communicate your love and respect for your spouse at each moment. When your spouse says something in your presence, always stop what you are doing and listen, then respond with the acknowledgment that you heard him/her. It may be something as simple as "uh-huh" or a nod. When your spouse starts to talk, you can choose to ignore him/her or turn toward him/her (figuratively speaking, sometimes literally.) Relationships are built on accumulation of these small acts over time, rather than occasional big expressions.” -Young Whang, married to Sarah 29 years
“My advice is: Practice acts of kindness and service regularly. When the kids were young, I could never seem to get the house in order. It was always a mess. Always. Once the kids were bickering all day and there were mountains of dishes spilling out of the sink. I just had nothing left. Young came home after work and, as usual, never said a single word about the MESS. I fell asleep exhausted only to be woken up at midnight by clanging sounds below. I went downstairs to find Young doing the mountain of dishes. That left a deep impression on me. The kids are all out of the house but to this day, I still remember how loved I felt by that act of service. Young lived out these words from Ephesians 5:25-- Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” -Sarah Whang, married to Young 29 years
“One of the things that we return to in marriage is that the most important gift you can give your spouse is to walk in the freedom Christ offers in the gospel. How I experience my marriage and my spouse is significantly shaped by what holds the affections of my heart. If I am walking in freedom from the shame and guilt of my past and in hope that rests in the one who holds my future, then I am free to be available to serve and love my spouse in this present moment. If I carry the load of guilt and shame from my past or if driven by fear I work to control my future (both of which are associated with a heart oriented to a false god and false belief), then I will be touchy, grudge holding, unattuned, unobservant, and, generally, self-focused.” -Alan Love, married to Carla 37 years
“Finding a Christian counselor can be useful in discovering unhealthy and unhelpful ways of dealing with conflict (including patterns that you might have grown up around) and help as you spend time with God individually inviting Him to point out the ‘sin behind the sin’ and praying for heart change. Along with that, spending time together reading and meditating on scripture, making space to pray and listen to Him, spending time in worship and praying on behalf of others, brings us toward one another. We have a few taglines we return to: ‘expect the best’, ‘seek to understand, not to be understood,’ ‘ask questions, don't assume,’ and ‘we're teammates, not enemies.’ Also, finding some things you both enjoy and making space and time for it is so important to longevity. Scheduling date nights on a consistent basis or time away periodically, is worth more than you think. These don't have to be expensive or elaborate. The thing that matters is having space to enjoy one another and be curious and interested in the other. Even weekly check-ins with your calendars and what is coming up for the week for each of you, how you're feeling or what you are thinking can go a long way to moving toward one another…’May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.’ (Romans 15:5-7)” -Carla Love, married to Alan 37 years
“Be patient in seasons of grieving, be sure to take time to celebrate in seasons of joy, practice gratitude together (listing five things we are thankful for at the end of the week can go a long way), and strive to live out the principles of Philippians 2:1-5 each day.
-Danny and Erika Castiglione, married 21 years
Please reach out if you would like prayer, counsel, or a list of Christian counselors in the area to help you in your marriage. May God bless the couples at Waypoint giving them peace for today, and joy as they look to the future, growing in grace, anchored in God’s love, displaying the hope we have in Christ!