When Selena and I were just starting Fierce Marriage, few people knew or cared we even existed and even fewer took an active interest. Scott was one of the very few people who not only took an interest but became a fast friend and consistent voice of wisdom for us. This week we had the honor of speaking with him on the Fierce Marriage Podcast! You can listen to that below!
After our talk, I asked Scott if he’d be willing to distill our conversation into a guest blog post. This is that post! We pray it blesses you.
For the last 13 years, my wife and I have had the privilege of helping thousands of couples prepare for marriage. We’ve done this through the premarried ministry at our church where we teach about topics such as communication, expectations, and spiritual and physical intimacy.
Our passion as a couple is working with couples in the premarried and newly married stages of life. We love getting to open our home to mentor and disciple couples in the early stages of their relationship. While it’s difficult to boil down all we’ve learned and shared with these couples, there are a few essentials we always tell them. To be honest, there’s no reason these lessons apply to only young couples!
3 Important Lessons for All Newlyweds
1. Pursue Jesus on your own and together as a couple.
In John 15, Jesus makes a bold statement about our relationship with Him. He says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Every time I read this verse I think, “Certainly we can do something apart from Jesus. We can work, breathe, move, and even do acts of kindness apart from Christ.” But Jesus makes it abundantly clear that apart from Him, we can do nothing.
The analogy makes perfect sense. No fruit-bearing tree will ever bear fruit without the essential nutrients it receives from the ground, sun, and rain. The tree will shrivel and die if it doesn’t get what it needs and won’t produce the fruit it was designed to bear.
In the same way, when you and I try to live life apart from the “essential nutrients” we need from the Lord, we will do nothing. This holds true for individuals and couples.
The goal is not to have a better marriage or to more creatively date and pursue your spouse. Rather, the purpose of life is to give God glory and to love Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The best way to love and serve your spouse is to abide with the Lord and become more like His Son Jesus as you apply what you learn.
Even though Jesus never married a woman, He still epitomizes the characteristics of a godly spouse: holiness, purity, kindness, patience, love, and so much more. The number one way to grow a great marriage is to grow in intimacy with Christ. The more you become like Christ, the better the spouse you’ll become.
This means you’ll need to seek Him first and you’ll want to share with your spouse what you’re learning in the Word and from the Lord. If you abide and want to grow in your marriage, you’ll pray with your spouse and seek out ways to serve Him using your gifts.
Every day you can take steps to become more like Christ, and this will in turn help grow your marriage. I knew I needed to build my life on the rock foundation of Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24-27), but I had no idea how much intimacy with Jesus would help me to become a better husband.
Question: What are you doing as an individual and as a couple to help you abide with Jesus and grow spiritually as a couple?
2. Life is better together: Community is a tremendous gift.
Every church defines community in a different way and goes about it with unique systems. My hope is to communicate the significance of the function of community, not the form of it.
Kristen and I were both in singles community groups before we got married. Each of our community groups studied the Bible, served at church, and helped keep the other group members accountable with sin struggles. We also encouraged each other in the victories of life.
My group of men helped me in my battle with pornography and helped mold and shape me to become a godly man who could love and serve Kristen. Kristen’s friends helped her deal with her people-pleasing tendencies and challenged her to grow in her faith.
Now as a married couple, we’re in a community group with four other couples who help us process the big and small decisions of life. They help us make decisions about finances, parenting, and so much more. They’re not afraid to wound us (Proverbs 27:6), sharpen us (Proverbs 27:17), and challenge us to do what’s right in the Lord’s eyes, not our own (Proverbs 3:7). Life is better together with a group of friends who spur us on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25) and encourage us day by day (Hebrews 3:13).
In our marriage vows, we both promised each other we would never seek to go through life without community. God says way back in the beginning of the Bible that it’s not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18). He knows what we need most, and He’s worthy of our trust. Life truly is better together.
Question: What does your community look like? Do you, as a couple, have a group of friends who will encourage, challenge, and spur you on to become more like Jesus?
3. Marriage is harder than you think and better than you imagined.
The only promise about marriage in the entire Bible is 1 Corinthians 7:28. Paul writes, “Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.” God doesn’t promise marriage will be easy, that we’ll make a ton of money, or that sexual intimacy will be incredible in marriage. Rather, the only promise we get is if we do get married, we will have trouble.
But I don’t need to convince you married life is challenging. Maybe you’ve seen the struggles in your parents, and you’ve certainly seen plenty of struggle on TV and in social media. Maybe you’ve even walked through challenges in your own marriage. No one needs to convince you marriage is difficult at times.
The reason marriage is challenging is because God brings together and unites two people with their own sin patterns and baggage. We quarrel and struggle with one another because of selfish desires that battle and wage war within us (James 4:1). The problem is not the other person, your children, money, or anything else you like to blame for your struggles. The problem is sin which destroys lives and marriages if left unchecked or unaddressed. And because of sin, marriage can be challenging.
But in spite of its challenges, marriage, if done right, is better than you can imagine. We don’t talk often enough about the blessings of marriage. We don’t share about the fun of companionship, the joy of sexual intimacy, or the satisfaction that comes from raising children and being on mission together as a couple. We too often share all the negative without letting others know about the positive aspects of marriage.
The reason why so many couples move in together and avoid marriage or bounce from one relationship to another is largely because you’ve never heard married people talk about the positive aspects of marriage. It’s time we change our message: we don’t have to lie and sugar coat the challenges of marriage, but we also need to make sure we share how it can be better than we hoped for or imagined.
Question: What message does your marriage communicate? When you share about your relationship or marriage with others, do you balance the tough with the great?
As I said above, it’s hard to boil down 13 years of marriage ministry experience into three pieces of advice, but I stand by my responses. If you and your significant other pursue intimacy and abide with Christ, live life in the context of community with other couples, and choose to embrace both the challenges and joys of marriage, then you will set yourselves up well for a lifetime of oneness and ministry together as a couple.
Scott Kedersha serves as the Director of Marriage Ministry at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas. He writes about marriage, family, leadership, and ministry, and is the author of Ready or Knot? 12 Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have before Marriage (releases 2/5/19). He is married to Kristen, has four boys, and can be found on his blog, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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