My baby brother just got married last month. It was the perfect wedding–a beautiful church, unseasonably warm Missouri weather for December, hordes of adorable child attendants, a handsome Marine groom, a beautiful bride, smiles and joy everywhere. But the reality is that my brother and sister-in-law have a tough road ahead: deployments, defying the odds that most USMC marriages end in divorce, not to mention the struggles we civilians face: adjusting to life together, finances, and Lord willing, parenthood (especially in the physically draining early years). Our pastor preached a rock solid wedding sermon in which he challenged all of us there to support and protect this new marriage. If a Christian marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church, then we’d better make sure the world is getting the right idea by providing accountability and encouragement to our married friends.
Pray for them. Don’t say you’ll pray for them and forget it. Really put a post-it on your fridge/mirror/steering wheel, and pray for their marriage. Back when I had a prayer journal in my organized college days, I had a whole list of married friends I cycled through praying for. I’m not that together anymore, but I do try to pray for marriages whenever they come to mind. (In fact, just writing this post has made me stop and pray for several of my friends!)
Don’t fall into the trap of encouraging your girlfriends to complain about their husbands. If a friend has a legitimate need for encouragement and prayer, listen, but call her out when she falls into whining.
If you hear that a couple is struggling, pray for them, offer to watch their kids so that they can have some adult time together (taking all the kids to an enclosed park is easy and fun), bring them a meal, or maybe even come to visit them if you’re not local. I’ll never forget that one day late in my first pregnancy, I shared with Anna that I felt so disconnected and discouraged while my husband was putting in super-long hours at school. I’d heard about someone back home who had walked out on her husband, and for the first time in my life, I understood that maybe she had started by feeling the same way I was feeling. Anna and her husband—busy with grad school and kids themselves—immediately planned a visit and loaded up their two kids and crashed our one-bedroom (!) apartment for the weekend. I wouldn’t exactly call it an intervention, because we weren’t on the brink of divorce or anything, but it was a well-timed visit of encouragement to press on (together). It meant so much to me to get to spend a few days laughing with friends who had known us as long as we had known each other, who had seen our relationship dynamics back in college, and who were just a couple years ahead of us in the school/work/family balancing act.
Bonus: While you’re all still taking in what a great friend Anna is, I found a picture from that very weekend! This is what we looked like eight kids ago (or six, if you count the two in utero at the time)…
Whose marriage can you pray for today?