Once you are married there is a shift in priorities and lifestyle that should occur. For the purposes of this post we will be touching on relational, spiritual, professional and personal shifts.
Let’s start with the super practical priorities that should change. Hobbies, past time activities, recreation, friends and really anything you do for “fun” should probably be on the list for a transition in priorities. Granted, you and your wife probably share quite a bit in common in terms of interests from the above list. However, I promise that the two of you are not a 100% match in the things that you enjoy doing or at least the frequency that you would prefer doing them. Keep in mind that transitioning priorities within your marriage isn’t just an exercise in selflessness. If done correctly and with the right heart, you will also invest into your partner a sense of gratitude and appreciation for each other. For Tasha and I, we had to make compromises early on in your marriage when it came to how much time to spend with friends. I previously had been the guy who would spend my evenings out with the “guys” on weekends and such. Tasha on the other hand, pretty much likes to settle down with the sun. I had to make a conscious choice to place my wife and her comfort levels above my own preferences. I won’t pretend that the process was wholly gracious on my part and that there wasn't an inner struggle that I had to push through to get there. In the end though, I chose to prioritize my wife. Tasha on the other hand, has made more priority shifts then I could ever write down for my sake and probably more than I am even aware. One thing that I can think of off the top of my head is video games. Tasha did not play video games when we met, and when we were dating expressed a desire that her future family would be video game free. This is a point that we disagreed on. I like video games and think that, when played in moderation with family, they have a great potential to bring families together. Over the years, Tasha has chosen to submit to my opinion on this matter and in doing so has hugely blessed me with her grace on the matter.
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."
Genesis 3:24 NIV
For Josh and I, a challenge we faced early in our marriage was finding out how this verse was calling us to live. We tried to continue to prioritize our own family over the others and giving the first pick of our free time to our families instead of considering to spend it with each other. There was this fear of leaving our families, hurting their feelings if we said no, and a fear of really starting to act like we were our own family unit. It took a purposeful shift in our mindset and behavior, and it wasn’t easy. I would challenge all newlyweds and even those who have been married for a long time to consider if you are indeed acting in a way that establishes your own family unit. As strange as it may sound to some, you should be prioritizing your own wife, husband and kids over your parents and siblings now that you are married.
Despite what most people these days seem to think, your profession or whatever you do to earn a living directly affects your marriage and the decisions you make about work should be considered as a group between the two of you. I am not just talking about decisions that affect how much money you make but even more importantly than that are professional decisions that affect the amount of time that both of you are around the house or with each other. These are important things that boil down to your priorities. For many of us we have to really question where our priorities lie when we find ourselves in situations where our jobs are constantly creeping in on our marriages and our family time. Some times, furthering your profession just isn’t worth it. Sometimes you will have to prioritize your marriage and your family ahead of your career. I am not talking about just ignoring your responsibilities at work or becoming an unreliable worker at your job, but rather making radical and deliberate shifts in what you do or where you work to prioritize your marriage and each other. In the end what you did for living won't matter even half as much as how you did it and the amount of time you were able to invest in your family. Whatever you do for a living, do it in a way that glorifies the Lord and do not let it become your master. As Christians you only have one master, God.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,”
Colossians 3:23 NIV
“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them."
Colossians 3:18-19 NIV
I feel like the spiritual shift of now being a married man or woman is the most controversial in today’s culture. We now are submitting ourselves to a whole new set of commandments that previously did not apply to us when we were single. I was never before forced to consider what it meant to submit to my husband. In our culture just the word submission has been tagged with a negative connotation that we are supposed to be fighting against. However as Christians, men and women alike, submission to Christ is the only way to show that we are Christians and that we love God. The submission of a wife to a husband is not the same as a repressed woman. I am submissive to my husband by never considering making decisions without first talking things through with him until we had agreed, following his career path, acknowledging his position as head of this household and a leader, ect. I know from experience that being a submissive wife and letting my husband know that I respect his leadership is a very powerful way to make him feel loved. How are you as a wife submitting to your husband and how can you submit to him better? Now the commandment to a wife is then paired with the call to a husband to be loving and gentle to his wife. Josh knows and makes sure I know that I have value in our relationship. To him my role as a help is just as important as his role as a leader. He is commanded to not abuse his position as the head of our family by treating me harshly. Be kind and affirming to your wife, she needs it as much as you need respect.
In summation, your life after marriage should be different than your life before marriage. It is a good thing and a God thing. The difference may be difficult to embrace at first and we can almost guarantee that there will be growing pains in the process. In the end though, all of these changes will become blessings for the both of you and your sacrifices will become a testimony to others of the love that you hold for one another.
Josh and Tash