First Lessons as Husband and Wife

We build our lifestyles and routines from worldviews we uphold, and the more we know ourselves, the easier and more comfortable these lifestyles become. Such is the challenge of marriage. We simply do not marry just the person we choose; we marry the culture and worldviews that come with them. Individuals who choose to marry must be ready to encounter and understand their spouses’ worldviews.

Three months into the journey of marriage, we dissect three lessons we’ve learned so far as we make lifestyle and routinary adjustments.

Realizing the Joys and Challenges of Leaving and Cleaving

Way before we began our premarital counseling, God’s command for a husband and wife to leave and cleave was already very clear to us, as this is mentioned in the Bible. In the Philippines, however, it is culturally acceptable for married couples to stay with their in-laws, often for financial reasons. While that might seem practical, we have come to appreciate why the Lord mandated married couples to leave their families of origin and cleave to one another as one flesh. As one unit, we learn to look for solutions and make decisions as we prayerfully seek God’s guidance. We are not going to lie: there are definitely challenges, but these are points of growth that we know the Lord purposefully allows so that we can mature as a couple in our relationship with each other and with Him.

INGRID: Among the joys the Lord has allowed us to experience is seeing His hand of provision for our needs. A lot of times, God has used people to bless us with something as simple as food. Since we moved to a new place, it’s also been a struggle finding people and places we can go to for car or home services. One of our kind neighbors has stepped in to help us many times, referring us to his personal mechanic when we had car trouble and even showing us where to go if we had to fix papers or settle any bills.

Establishing Our Own Rhythm and Rules

DAVE: Synergized values are imperative for a successful marriage. We are thankful that common values exist between us, such as our faith in God, financial literacy, cleanliness, and practicality. Nevertheless, even with common values, each of us has different means by which we apply and materialize these values.

For instance, Ingrid has been trained in practical responsibilities and ways of living she learned from her parents and mentors. These have become cornerstone practices in her life. She maintains these conventional routines that have proven effective, because, as they say, “Why reinvent the wheel?”

I, on the other hand, am self-taught and work more intuitively, having been left to my own devices growing up. This has prompted me to find ways to accomplish a task –  innovating, if needed. I am not afraid to veer away from convention if there is a better way of doing things.

From that alone, even if our values are the same, the approaches will be different. Ingrid might get exasperated by my non-conventional approaches if they prove ineffective or even wasteful. Ingrid’s rigidity of routine and low risk-appetite, on the other hand, might frustrate me. These manifest from the way each other cooks to the way each other organizes things at home.

Newlyweds will soon realize how different the other is when it comes to the details of routine and lifestyle, but shared values unite a couple and help establish the rhythm and rules of daily life.

Recognizing the Importance of Give and Take

INGRID: We’ve heard it said many times that open communication between husband and wife is very important–but it can also be a very humbling experience. Having to ask or inform Dave of what I want to do or where I need to go is something that I am still learning to do automatically. When I was single, I only thought about my own schedule; now, I always have to take him into consideration.

DAVE: One cannot assume the other person’s intention or assume that he or she approves of your behavior, even if they do not verbally disagree. And so, it is imperative not only to continually observe your partner, but also to ask questions. Always check your partner if he or she is agreeable with one practice or another. If you cannot agree on one thing, then find some compromise. At other times, you just have to agree to disagree. When Ingrid and I were fixing our home office space, for example, one compromise I offered was for the whole office area to be hers alone, while I work in the dining area. She did not agree at first, but it proved beneficial. While I do desire my own work area, I will not sacrifice our relationship simply because of the difference in manifesting our values.

Ultimately, marriage entails each spouse yielding at some level in decision-making. It means going the extra mile: asking the comfort level of the other, agreeing even if it means disagreeing, and making some compromises for the benefit of the relationship. Remember, it’s just going to be you two for the rest of your lives. If there is no common ground and no willingness to adjust, expect the worst. But if both are willing to compromise and go back to the common ground, expect a lifelong journey that will build you up stronger together.

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