However, as my own children reach the ages where marriage may be in their future, I think about what kind of advice I would give a young bride should she ask me. For what it's worth, here are two things that have really helped me, and they are the two things I have struggled with the most.
First, resist the urge to make changing your husband the benchmark of a successful marriage. Honestly, I hear young wives talking, and phrases like, "be patient, he'll change," occur quite a bit, and "just pray that God will change him." The truth is that there are ways your husband will change, but there are things that may never change. My husband is a terrible procrastinator, and is forgetful. I tease him that should he die before I do, I'm going to put the words "Where are my car keys?" on his headstone. This has not changed much in 26 years. What has changed is me. I have learned to make this less of an issue than it needs to be.
Don't misunderstand me; I'm not talking about enduring abuse at the hands of your husband. Abuse ought not ever be tolerated. I'm talking about everyday things. The one way my husband has changed is that he calls me almost every night before coming home from work to see if I need anything. Yes, your husband may change; but he may not, and you have to be okay with that. If all you want out of a husband is to change him, become a personal trainer instead. It may be less frustrating in the end.
Second, marriage is about becoming one flesh (Ephesians 5:22-33). It isn't about following a carefully executed plan of getting from A-Z. Sometimes, the plethora of marriage manuals and marriage blogs out there make it seem like that. My husband and I are still here after 26 years because of God's grace, not because we studied and underlined the significant passages of a marriage book. The reality is that a woman can do everything right and work hard and things can still go very wrong. I have a friends who are widows, but I also have friends who are divorced; friends who don't know what happened. They thought they did everything right, but their husbands went their own way, anyway. Ask anyone with a good marriage what the secret of their success is, and they will likely tell you it's quite simply the grace of God. My husband and I don't have a perfect marriage, but we know we rely on His grace daily, because it is only through God's grace that we can forgive each other, be kind to one another, stay committed, and practice grace ourselves.
The day my husband and I were married, before I came into the church, a very good friend of ours sang these words:
A time for joy a time for cheer
That is why we are gathered here
To see the union of two we love
Led and blessed by God above
And as the church is loved by Christ
So the man must love his wife
And as the Church for Christ is to live
So the wife her life to her husband she'll give
From the beginning of time it has not been good
For man to be alone
And now before our eyes we see the blessed plan
For the marriage of a woman and a man
For the mystery of ages now again is done
For the two shall come as two
And leave as one
"For the two shall come as two/and leave as one." Beautiful line. While we are one in union of marriage, we still have two sinners. That is where the conflict arises from. And that is why we must throw ourselves upon the mercy of God daily.