This blog is written by friends of the ministry, Abi and Zach Schneider.
When Abi and I first decided to start dating, we were very clear on our intentions of the relationship. We knew that we were falling in love with one another. And we had clarity that there wasn't, nor would there ever be, anyone else in the picture. We had an end goal of dating for marriage. And then, for that marriage to last a lifetime.
Obviously, everyone’s story begins differently. But hopefully we can shed some light on common foundations that we discussed early on in our relationship, and that we believe every marriage should have.
There were many times in the beginning stages of our relationship where the foundation that we were building was shaken up quite a bit. There was a particular time in our relationship when we started to feel doubt of where this was going. We came together, so afraid of losing each other, but more afraid of losing sight of the path God had each of us on.
If we have always had one thing straight, it is that our relationship with the Lord will always be the most treasured and sacred relationship in our lives. We believe this mindset truly gave us the strength to move towards the great calling the Lord gave us in being with one another. As we continued to walk together, we started to piece together what was necessary to solidify the future we were working towards.
Identity in God
For myself (Zach), I strongly believe that as an individual, you should have a good grasp of who you are as God’s child. As a man, and as a woman. You should feel confident in your relationship with Jesus before stepping into a relationship with someone else. As believers, we know we cannot live a life of purpose and meaning without God. So what makes us think that we can pursue an everlasting covenant to another human without Him?
Early on, we were both walking strong in our relationship with Jesus. As we progressed toward marriage, it was important for us to understand that God had to be at the center. We knew what this looked like throughout dating and engagement, but even more as we became one. God had to be at the center of our individual hearts.
This first foundation of beginning a healthy, God-centered marriage is just that - centering the relationship of husband and wife around Jesus.
Another important foundation for journeying into a marriage is alignment with one another. Abi and I often reflect and ask each other “What is our vision for life? Where are we going? Who do we want to be as a couple?" Having a vision for your marriage is important in establishing that you're both moving in the same direction with an aligned purpose. Ultimately it should be to bear the image of God, and to enjoy the gift of marrying your best friend.
A good way of understanding this for yourselves is simply by asking questions. Identify the things that you value in life. Maybe it’s building and working at a strong, healthy marriage because you never saw one growing up. Maybe it’s providing your children with more opportunity than you were given. Or, it might even be the opportunity to serve in ministry together, or travel the world for some time.
Everyone values different things in life, and the fact is that as life progresses, goals change too. So, we learn to adapt to the season that we’re in, reassess, and adjust to the vision that we’re after. But don’t lose sight of who the key player is in carrying out, or even not carrying out your plans. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (NIV).
It’s very important to have a vision for life with your spouse. And, the cool thing about it is that as we live a life of faithfulness to God, He gives us wisdom and understanding of the ideas we should have for life in marriage. When we delight in the Lord and align our hearts with Him, He will instill in us the things we value most. In Psalm 37:4, we’re reminded to “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (NIV). Alignment with God opens our hearts to invite in His desires for our life. In turn, we experience those as a gift.
Reflection of Perspective
Lastly, Abi and I find value in the constant reflection of the perspective that we view each other in. The enemy wants us to oppose one another, to bring each other down and for the marriage to fail. But in remembering the deeper meaning and greater calling behind this marriage we must learn to shift our perspective on how we view, speak to, love, encourage, and support our spouse.
One perspective that might be useful to adopt is simply to remind one another that you are God’s gift to each other. When marriage can be rooted in this perspective, the room for failure, expectation, and bitterness is lessened. It’s about seeing your marriage in a different perspective than the world does.
Your relationship, your marriage is intended to glorify God. When you do this you enable each other to endure life’s challenges together. And you learn that it’s a journey to be enjoyed with the one you love.