Keeping the Honeymoon Stage Alive

Servanthood in Marriage

Keeping the honeymoon stage alive may seem like quite a challenge. Many marriages start well but finish poorly. My desire is to finish strong, and my prayer is that at the end of my life, my love for my wife will be tremendously greater than when we first got married. This is impossible to accomplish on my own. The only way to build a lasting marriage while keeping the honeymoon stage alive is to love like Jesus does.

Philippians 2 outlines a perfect example of love from the actions of Jesus. Philippians 2:6-8 says, “Jesus has always been as God is. But He did not hold to His rights as God. He put aside everything that belonged to Him and made Himself the same as a servant who is owned by someone. He became human by being born as a man.” If God humbled Himself, became a servant, and laid down his life, we should be willing to do the same for our spouse.

I love the lyrics from Hillsong United that says, “I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground.” The song is about how in the kingdom of God, everything is turned upside down. Instead of reaching for the sky to become the greatest, the lowest servants are considered the greatest. Not only did Christ preach this, but He also displayed it.

Philippians 2:8-9 goes on to say, “After He became a man, He gave up His important place and obeyed by dying on a cross. Because of this, God lifted Jesus high above everything else. He gave Him a name that is greater than any other name.” After Jesus humbled Himself to the lowest position, God exalted Him to the highest.

At times, I have worried about if my needs were being met or if I was happy in marriage. However, if I am going to love my wife like Jesus loves me, I must completely put aside my needs, humble myself, and serve. When I serve out of a genuine love for my wife, everything else will fall into place.

Jesus displayed the ultimate agape love. Agape love is a selfless, sacrificial love that can only be given through Christ. Phileo love is based on feelings, but agape love is based on a choice. Every day, I have a choice. Am I going to put aside my wishes and serve my wife? Through the power of God, this choice is possible for every marriage. Finishing strong is made possible by the agape love that Christ showed us so that we would lay down our lives and show this love to each other.

The 5 Love Languages

Understanding each other’s love language can help keep the honeymoon stage alive. Take the free test to discover your love language at 5lovelanguages.com.

Till Death Do Us Part

The goal of every young marriage should be to become an old one. Click on the image below for the interactive version of this graphic.

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Couple’s Stories & Advice

I had the honor of interviewing three couples. One was married for a year, another for 14 years, and another for 60 years. Watch the video below to hear their stories.

Experiencing Firsts With Young Love

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Although young marriage requires a certain maturity and may not be for everyone, it also accompanies a certain blessing. This is the blessing of experiencing firsts. Song of Solomon 8:4b says, “not to awaken love until the time is right” (NLT). The right time differs based on the individual and God’s timing for them. Those who enter into marriage at a young age get to experience first-time life events together.

For Paytin and I, these life events included numerous things. Paytin watched me purchase my first car, get declined on my first interview, celebrate my 18th birthday, set up my first debit card, perform at my first big audition, and so many other things. I have had the privilege of watching her graduate high school, succeed in major leadership positions, flourish in children’s ministry, rock student teaching, accept her first full-time job, and countless other things.

All along the way, we have encouraged each other and pushed each other to do challenging things. Paytin is a major reason why I am where I am today. All of these priceless memories would have been lost if we had chosen to wait until later in life for marriage. Marrying young and experiencing these first-time events together brought us closer together and allowed us to strengthen each other.

The first time we got our car stuck in the mud, had our own hotel room, paid for our own fancy dinner, went on our own cruise, or had our first kiss were moments of blessings. We look forward to continuing to share these first moments together and are extremely grateful for the opportunity to experience them at a young age.

How I Met My Wife

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By now, I’ve mentioned that I met Paytin in church. God orchestrated the situation to bring us together. Paytin grew up as a Catholic but felt that God was calling her to another church. She showed up at a small church that I had gone to my entire life and started attending the youth group.

Even though the church wasn’t large, we didn’t get to know each other until our youth group went on a mission trip. The youth pastors told everyone to find a buddy, and she asked me to be her buddy. During the trip, we got to know each other more and kept on talking afterward.

At first, we were just friends. However, as time went by, I began to realize that Paytin was the one that God had for me. I wanted to do something creative to ask her out so I wrote a song, played it for her, and she said yes. That was the start of our great adventure together.

Although it hasn’t always been easy, God has been faithful. We have grown closer together through the years, and our love for each other grows stronger each day.

A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Budgeting

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The idea of budgeting can be pretty intimidating. Because I had a fluctuating income and didn’t know what bills were going to cost, creating our budget felt pretty overwhelming. The main thing to remember is that a budget is just an estimate. Your budget may not always go according to plan, and that’s okay. You can keep adjusting and refining it.

In 5 Principles for Avoiding Financial Strife in Marriage, I mentioned that my wife and I use a free app called Goodbudget. This app is based on the envelope system taught by Dave Ramsey. Other couples we know use this app, excel, or real envelopes.

We prefer Goodbudget because we can place transactions into the budget right after checking out, and it syncs between both of our phones. However, the principle remains the same regardless of your budgeting system.

First, enter your estimated income and select how often you get paid. Then, create envelopes with your estimated bills and spendings. (Remember, this is only an estimate. If you spend extra on gas one week, you can transfer the remainder from eating out.)

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Next, add your paycheck to the budget. If your check fluctuates, you can add more or less to any envelope. To add a transaction to the budget, simply tap on the circled button.

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Lastly, enter the payee, the amount, and select the envelope you wish to take it out of. The amount in that envelope will be updated on any devices you choose.

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Budgeting is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. Choosing to budget can greatly reduce the amount of stress and fights in a marriage. It may seem simple, but tracking where all that hard earned money goes is one of the greatest steps to using it wisely.

The Ultimate Love Story

Prayers

Once, there was a perfect man who was madly in love. However, the woman he loved wanted nothing to do with him. It was discovered later that she was a liar, a thief, and a prostitute. At that time in history, the punishment for those things was a slow, painful death. This man loved her so much that he chose to take her punishment and die in her place.

The Connection
The Bible refers to Christ as the groom and to Christians as His bride. Christ died for His bride. In the same way, the purpose of a Christian marriage is to represent the relationship of Christ and His church. As a husband, I am called to lay down my life for my wife.

“Husbands, love your wives. You must love them as Christ loved the church. He gave His life for it” (Ephesians 5:25).

The Challenge
In our own strength, it is completely impossible to love anyone with the selfless, agape love of Christ. 1 Corinthians 13:4 describes perfect love when it says, “Love does not give up. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. Love does not put itself up as being important. Love has no pride.” Realizing that I constantly fall short of this definition of love, I am reminded of my need for Jesus.

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The Conclusion
The marriage triangle illustrates how when a couple draws closer to Christ, they become closer to each other. As I spend time daily reading the Bible and allowing it to change me, I can start becoming more like Jesus. This empowers me to show unconditional love to my wife. The ultimate love story is that Christ laid down His life for us so we can lay down our lives for each other.

Our Wedding Story

PaytinWeddings are a joyful time of witnessing a man and a woman making a lifelong commitment to each other before God. For those who are already married, weddings remind us of the meaning of the vows and of the covenant made with our spouse. This slideshow is the story of me and Paytin’s wedding. We are so thankful for our friends and family who helped us celebrate on this amazing day.

Stop Poisoning Your Marriage

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One day, a man, who discovered his wife was cheating on him, came to my dad for advice. My dad said, “She may have been 99% wrong, but can you find one thing you’ve done wrong?” He said, “No, I was the perfect husband.” That man’s marriage was destroyed, and he remained bitter.

A poison is “a substance with an inherent property to destroy life.” Unforgiveness is the poison that destroyed his life and many others. The cure is simply to forgive. Holding on to bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die. You’re only hurting yourself and destroying your marriage.

“Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26b). It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong. Don’t let pride keep you from peace. End the argument quickly by apologizing and choosing to forgive.

1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love keeps no records of wrong. Jesus has cast our sins as far as the East is from the West, and He will never remember them again. When we forgive our spouse, we should never bring up the wrong again.

Another man, whose wife cheated on him on their 10th wedding anniversary, also came to my dad for advice. The man had tears in his eyes, and my dad really didn’t know what to say. Finally, he asked, “Do you love her?” The man said yes. He said, “She’s probably embarrassed and ashamed. Go home, hug her, and tell her that you love her.” The man did that, and his marriage was completely restored.

Love is a choice, not a feeling. The poison of bitterness will destroy life, but when we choose to forgive as we have been forgiven, our marriages will be filled with life.

3 Ways to Balance College and Married Life

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Being a married college student usually feels like a juggling act. Working full-time, having a full-time college schedule, and making time for my marriage has been a challenge. Plenty of nights, I’ve stayed up until 3:00 in the morning studying. While being married has allowed Paytin and me to help each other in college, it also requires being intentional about spending quality time together. Here are three ways that we balance college and married life.

1. Using Time Management
I am terrible at time management. I struggle with punctuality and can easily drag out a one hour project for three hours. Fortunately, being married to Paytin has helped me improve in that area, but it can still be difficult. Whenever a professor assigns a simple project, I try to do it during the ten minutes in between classes. The more we get done at school, the more time we have together at home.

2. Keeping a Schedule
If I don’t write down when an assignment is due, I will forget about it. Buying calendars to track due dates has helped us to visualize assignment dates and work ahead. We work to cross things off our schedule whenever possible. Scheduling limits the stress of a heavy load and allows us to free up time for each other.

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Ecclesiastes 11:4).

3. Knowing When to Stop
When the exam is the next day, you may not have that luxury. However, when it starts to get late and your body feels exhausted, it’s best just to go to sleep. Your brain actually needs sleep to absorb all the information. Also, I’ve learned that nurturing my relationship is more important than excellent grades.

College life is challenging regardless of your stage in life. Being married and in college simply requires being laser focused and mindful about investing time into the relationship.

Levi Stermer: Story of a Young Marriage

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Levi Stermer is a worship pastor at The Church International. He married his wife, Elle, when he was 18 years old and now has a son named Benaiah. He is an incredible mentor with a great sense of humor and a heart for God. This is his story of marrying young in a modern age.

The Preparation

Levi and Elle met in church when they were around 11 to 12 years old. Levi knew he was going to marry Elle for four years before they got into a relationship. During that time, he prayed God would guide her to become who she was called to be. Levi also spent time developing his character before marriage.

“He is a thoughtful husband and friend, and I have recently seen him become the most loving and caring father to our first child,” said Arielle Stermer.

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The Proposal

Levi and Elle courted for three months before he proposed. He received permission from her parents first. In his house one evening, he had the idea of writing a song to propose with on Memorial Day Weekend during a church service.

After worship that Sunday, Levi and the team played the song he wrote for Elle. He then jumped off the altar and proposed over the speakers. About 400 people or so were huddled around.

The Objections

Levi chose to marry young because it was God’s timing for his life. Whenever Levi and Elle started thinking about getting married, quite a few people disagreed. Distant family members and acquaintances said they wouldn’t be able to make it and that being married young was too tough.

Levi believes those people were just trying to look out for them, but he knew what God called them to do. “Whenever Noah was building the ark, everyone thought that he was crazy too,” said Levi.

Advice to Young Married Couples

The Obstacles

Levi explained that because they were young, they weren’t as mature. He said he was fresh out of high school and only a teenager. They had to “microwave” their maturity to be able to operate as a couple.

“He is mature beyond his years, but he has not forgotten how to have fun,” said Chris Mire.

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The Advantages

To Levi, one of the best things about being married young was starting off life as an adult together. They had never lived independently before or created separate lifestyles and habits. He also enjoyed being young and married. Young people like to have fun and go hang out with friends. Levi said, “Being able to do that together in a safe way because we were married was really great.”

The Sonic Drink