So we said, “I do” three years ago.
We get lots of questions and positive (assumed) statements about our marriage. We decided to share a quick blog post with tidbits of real life with you. Honest advice and wisdom that has worked for us.
If you’ve been inspired by our marriage, please stop and read what inspires our marriage.
PC : the talented, Christine Bonnivier.
23 years old
married status: 3 years + counting
homeowners in battlefield – mo
mom + dad of two beautiful golden retrievers #rangerandriver
current housemate: our sister marissa (hs sophomore)
nathan: full time accountant, part time photographer, part time student
esther: full-time photography business
For the glory of it all.
We’ve learned what we thought we already understood, that marriage is much much bigger than just getting married for selfish reasons. It is a union God designed to bring Him glory; for two are better than one. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
The first two years of marriage we poured ourselves into our ministry, education, and our photography business until there was nothing left. This year, we’ve gotten tremendously better at dating each other. It is still challenging to make it happen with our lives, but it’s essential to set our priorities. We mentally set our priorities often but did not know to gain control of our time to make it happen. It takes sacrifice and sometimes, people may view it as selfish. We’ve learned to never feel guilt when investing in our marriage because it is the new foundation of our ministry, business, and dreams! A healthy marriage = healthy life and it does NOT work the other way around! Invest your time, money, and heart into your person.
Schedule it. Commit to it. Don’t feel guilty about it.
Know this, and remember it when the nights get long or the days get short or the space between the minutes is stretched out and pulled tight between us: Wherever we go, whatever we do, we will leave a trail behind us for the world to see. We will burn white into the blue of the sky, and not a soul will be able to resist marveling at the mark we have made. – Tyler Knott
Friends, don’t fear what’s “after the honeymoon phase”
We’ve heard the majority of married voices say, “enjoy this part while it lasts” and “you’re still in the honeymoon phase”. WELL. That sure did put a lot of pressure on us and we often thought, what is wrong with us?! Sure it was good, but the best? Is this the BEST it will ever be? We only have three years of experience under our belts, but we find that as time passes we are able to discover more hidden treasures of joy in our marriage. It takes time to learn how to be selfless. It takes time to learn how to love my spouse. It takes time to understand marriage isn’t for me. It takes time to even grasp that marriage is bigger than my personal satisfaction. It’s more for our personal sanctification than satisfaction. We have embraced the purpose of marriage and our satisfaction is deeper because of it. (Philippians 1:6)
“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning.” Ecclesiastes 7:8
Learn how to love…
We learned these first years, it’s not the amount of love we lack…it’s learning to love each other. Learning how to direct that abundance of love! It’s so so much easier to communicate love the way you feel it, but that is not what we are called to do. *enter selflessness* *enter learning curve* (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)
Didn’t know people feel and communicate love in different ways? Go pick up The 5 Love Languages today!
AWESOME. You’ve got a head start! Ask and learn your friends’ and families’ love languages and try loving them intentionally in their love language!! This is one of the greatest ways you can prepare for marriage. It will also do wonders for your current relationships. I don’t think marriage should be the first time we should practice this!
We call it, the 7 second kiss.
Simple enough? Obvious enough? It wasn’t for us!
Cheesy, but after a work day the very first moment we see each other we drop everything we are holding on to physically and mentally and give each other a good long kiss.
No matter how stressed we have been and will be the rest of that day, when we both set aside a few seconds for our ‘7 second kiss’ to say,
“I can think about you above all this.
No amount of stress can make me forget how much you mean to me”
…and sometimes that’s all we need.
Wisdom you need, exists. Find it.
Speaking of marriage books. Want our advice? Read them. They are priceless tools.
Knowledge without the price of experience? YES, PLEASE. More, more, and more. Why try to do marriage with just your knowledge and wisdom?
Our top 5 faves:
We often ask close friends and spiritual leaders to pray for our marriage. (Matthew 21:22)
When we do this, we have confidence that these prayers have great power and we have experienced it multiple times. (James 5:16!)
Always, always be praying for your marriage. Find humility to ask people to pray over your marriage. Why do it by your own power? When we learned we don’t have to “do marriage” by our own efforts, it all started making sense.
Sometimes it takes awhile to understand something not just with our heads, but also our hearts. We happily *understand that we are commanded to rely on Christ DAILY to let Him do a thorough work in us. (Hebrews 13:21) (Philippians 1:6 + 2:13)
by Christ alone
It’s not called spiritual warfare for nothing, and your marriage is a target. (2 Corinthians 10:4)
Biblically speaking, we are going into war. Would we walk into war with just our flesh? Never!
Put on the whole armor of God, so that we might be able to stand…
There are moments that we might not be able see the value of our marriage. Wait a minute; cosmic forces are desperately fighting for our marriage?
Regardless of feelings, that IN ITSELF adds instant value. Our marriage has an eternal purpose? That naturally causes a desire in us to put on the armor of God and turn our swords in the right direction.
We have ZERO confidence we can do marriage on our own. We can only do it by the Holy Spirit living within us, abiding with Christ, and using the tools He gives us – like a community of spiritual leaders who pray over us and speak truth into us. We can thrive with these divine forces and so can you! This is the way marriage was designed. This is how our very lives were designed, to rely solely on Christ’s power so He may be known and He will be given glory.
Discover your person over and over again.
Being known is one of the wonderful benefits of being married. It is also what can make it boring, fast.
We know each other as well as we can. So how are we supposed to find the rush we felt when discovering our person?
That’s because we know the Nathan and Esther of TODAY.
Realize your person is growing and changing. We began dating 6 years ago this Fall. Are we the same person? Nope. Not just on a maturity level but we have different hobbies, opinions, and favorites.
Realize that life is causing your person to change. Discover that change.
Is your spouse an idol?
No of course not!!! How could you ask such a thing?
I (Esther) didn’t recognize just how much I was relying on Nathan to fulfill my needs.
I placed more responsibility on Nathan to play the role of God in my life than I ever thought possible. Ladies, this was much harder to stop than I ever thought it would be.
I would seek Nathan for wisdom, encouragement, love, comfort, and entertainment.
Esther, what is sinful about that?
Let’s get transparent. It took me years to see I was stealing the roles of God and putting more weight into the abilities of Nathan.
Nathan’s approval of me and response toward me became more important than anything. I think this is very natural for a newlywed wife to fall into this because our culture and sin nature seeks approval of men. (Galations 1:10, John 12:43)
The first time your husband fails to give you comfort or encouragement, what is your emotional response? I quickly realized with this heart check that I had become dependent on Nathan for a God role.
My dependence on those roles should be on God, because He cannot fail. Every husband will fail the expectations of God and any man would crumble under that pressure. Ladies, do not put that pressure on him.
Never did I think I would be struggling with this but recognizing it is the hardest step. This is where abiding with Christ, heart checks, marriage books, communication, and everything previously mentioned comes into play. There is lots of great material and resources to combat this! I would ask every single wife to really, really ask themselves this question. It was a hard pill for me to swallow but I could not imagine continuing in this sin! It’s very damaging and I think newlyweds are super susceptible to this!
For us, simple and intentional communication goes a long long way. Don’t assume your feelings are obvious to the other person. Go ahead, honestly tell them “You hurt my feelings when you did…” or “Wow, I felt so loved when you did…”
We are surprised by how much of our good and bad behavior towards each other is just habit and unintentional. (This kind of ties in with love languages.)
Communication reminds us the weight of our words and actions and helps us learn how to love our person.
Just don’t assume.
Communicate (super short and sweet works best!) when you feel love or unloved.
Let’s do a retake.
My (Nathan) parents taught us a really awesome tool. We’ve used it multiple times and it works like a charm. A cheesy charm, but it works.
Let’s just give you an example.
Say you walk in the door and your wife worked hard to prepare a meal and clean the house. Say you completely forget to notice or say thank you. Say she is disappointed. Say you have a lot of your mind and you feel defensive.
This is when you choose. You choose to keep going back and forth is defense and blame game OR you say, “Retake!”. You go back outside and completely start over. It sounds like it would feel insincere and not work but it really does.
When disappointment is involved, just try a retake.
Thanks friends for reading!
We wanted to share what we’ve learned and understood in our first three years of marriage. We know we have just a small percent of the wisdom out there but never be intimated with sharing wisdom given to you!
We are grateful for the couples who are only a few years ahead of us speaking truths to us! We know A LOT of newlyweds so in humility we just wanted to share what we are able to currently.
We desire to be transparent and share whatever we need to help people.
If you have any questions or want to talk more specific with us, just reach out! We would love to be open with you.
Cheers to marriage!
PS- If you ever would like us to pray over your marriage, we’d love to. As individuals and/or together.
*Just because we’ve arrived at an understanding of these tips does not mean that we have mastered doing them. These tips, when applied give us wedding bliss. We are victorious at times and fail at others. Every day is not wedding bliss. It’s a journey.