Who Do You Go to for Marriage Advice?
by Jody Hedlund
Let’s be perfectly honest. Being married isn’t always easy.
Even though I love a good fairytale as much as my ten-year-old daughter, after 25 years of marriage I’ve learned that attaining wedded bliss takes a lot more work than the Disney princesses let on.
While I don’t begrudge a good fairytale re-telling (I actually write fairytale young adult fiction in addition to my adult novels), I wouldn’t advise that anyone get their relationship advice from Cinderella or Snow White.
Instead, I suggest that we make more of a habit of turning to historical couples who had strong marriages.
As I’ve researched and written about famous couples from history who had outstanding marriages, I’ve realized that, no, their marriages weren’t perfect. And no, they didn’t always do everything right. But they also had a lot of great advice on how to live out a marriage amidst the difficulties.
One such couple was Martin and Katharina Luther. As I wrote their love story, I quickly realized that they didn’t have a love-at-first-sight relationship. In fact, theirs was fraught with tension and turmoil. That they ended up together at all is really a God-ordained miracle.
The Luthers’ marriage wasn’t necessarily easy. But they made it work by following these pieces of advice:
1. PRAISE your spouse highly, especially to others.
It’s all too easy to complain about our spouses to our friends. It comes naturally to want to release our frustrations, to commiserate, perhaps in the name of “getting advice.” But what would happen to our marriages if we made a habit to never speak negatively to others about our spouse, but to uplift him or her in public?
Katharina Luther was a talkative, outspoken, and sometimes opinionated woman. In spite of clashing at times, Luther still made sure to speak of her positively both publicly and in his writings. Here are just a few of his compliments:
“The Letter to Galatians is my beloved epistle; I trust it. It is my Kate von Bora.”
“I would not trade my Kate for France and Venice.”
“Kate, you have a god-fearing man who loves you. You are an empress.”
2. PRAY for your spouse constantly.
One of the first things to go when we’re angry with our spouses is our desire to pray for them. But that is exactly the reaction that our enemy, the devil, seeks.
After living as a monk and a bachelor for most of his life, married life was a difficult adjustment for Luther. But he said this in regards to prayer in marriage: “The devil is not idle. Therefore, we must pray constantly.” And he also said, “The devil does his worst to tear a marriage apart so nothing remains but bitter hate. This is so because we rarely begin anything with prayer, and we take God for granted.”
3. Be PATIENT with your spouse with God’s patience.
Any time we live day in and day out with the same people, they begin to do things that annoy us—leave the toilet seat up or dirty dishes in the sink or wet clothes in the washing machine. We’re bound to lose our patience with those we love.
However, impatience can begin to tear at the peace in our homes. Luther said: “If God would counter everything with His power, where, then, would we find His wisdom and goodness? For that reason, He ignores many of our wrongdoings so His wisdom and goodness become known in our weakness.”
God is MORE than patient with us in our wrongdoings. How can we not imitate Him with our spouses?
4. Keep PERSPECTIVE, especially an eternal perspective.
In the middle of the mundane and the busyness of life, it’s so easy to lose perspective of what’s truly important. We often fall into culture’s rat race of trying to gain more wealth and become more successful.
But I really like what Luther said, “Riches are among the most trivial things on earth. . . yet we are so busy looking for wealth that we forget what our true riches are.”
Luther and Katharina lived a simple life without riches or prestige. Near the end of his life, Luther wrote to Katharina and said, “My dear Kate, I have nothing in worldly goods to bequest to you, but I have a rich God. Him I leave you. He will nourish you well.”
So, what do you think? Aren’t the Luthers full of great wisdom?!
Next time you’re looking for marriage advice, rather than turning to the latest how-to book or a pop culture relationship guru, I encourage you to seek out godly couples who’ve come before us, who’ve weathered difficult times and faced incredible hardships but came out stronger as a result. Hopefully you’ll find a treasure of wisdom that will help your marriage grow stronger, too.
Best-selling author Jody Hedlund, winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and Christy Award, writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults. Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats.
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