Dedicate your marriage as a living sacrifice to God. We have what I would call a "covenant marriage", meaning we made our promise of marriage as an agreement between the two of us and God, so it is a promise we cannot break. When you choose your bridal party, choose people who will support your marriage when things get tough. Recognise that marriage is a sacrament and should be considered in the highest esteem. Try and surround yourself with other families who have strong marriages so you can encourage and look after each other. Your marriage should be protected at all costs.
Go to University. If at all possible, go to college or uni. An education will give you so many more opportunities in life. It is also a great place to find your future spouse. You really should marry someone with whom you have many things in common. At uni, there are thousands of people who are in the same age group and have a similar intellect. My husband and I met at uni when we were teenagers, and I am so grateful that I never had to do the whole night club and pub scene thing like many people do in order to find a partner. We had alot in common from the start, as we were studying similar courses and had many classes together. We were both committed to succeeding in our education and careers before marrying. I can even remember the exact moment I fell in love with my husband: it was during the first week of second semester in the cafeteria! We had been friends for a year, but at that moment I thought, "I'm going to marry him one day" I always think it is so amazing that the two of us became partners with all the people in the world we may have ended up with. I guess God knew who the right man was for me. I do not recommend marrying someone that you do not have much in common with: I've seen it end in tears many times. Marry someone with the same values and goals in life.
Make your marriage your first priority. If you are going to get married, you will have to accept that your lifestyle is going to change permanently. Don't think that it is ok to go on surfing safaris every weekend with your mates. You cannot continue to live like a single person if you are married. That's not to say that you can't spend time on your own or do things without your spouse- of course you still can, but there must be limits and boundaries. Also, family and friends need to accept that your spouse is now your first priority, and not them anymore. This can be difficult for some families to accept, but do not fall for the guilt messages or emotional blackmail when they feel you are not giving them enough attention. The bible clearly says that when you marry, you leave your parents and a new family unit is formed and it is the most important relationship in your life now. Your parents and siblings need to understand this, even if it leads to feelings of jealousy. Change can be hard to accept, so assure your family and friends that you still love them, but your own new little family will be the main focus in your life-and that's the way it should be.
Love is an action, not a feeling. I think if people understood this more, there would be less divorce. Marriage can be tough. It is never smooth sailing 100% of the time. If you can accept that there will be rocky times and that nobody has a perfect marriage, then when the tough times come along you can accept it as perfectly normal. There will be times when you won't feel romantic or warm and fuzzy towards your spouse, but if love is an action, you can continue to show them loving actions. Do nice things for one another. So many people think I'm crazy for ironing my husband's shirts every night. Other wives make their husbands do it themselves. I don't enjoy ironing, but I do it as a little loving gesture. I also spend alot of time helping my kids study. I don't have alot of spare time as I work fulltime, but I do it because I want them to know that they are my top priority and that I value education. And don't keep score about who does the most around the house - just do it and work as a team. Have a servant's heart. Give without expecting anything in return. Oh, and husbands, giving your wife a foot rub every now and then will earn you lots of Brownie points!
Don't live together before you get married. I've heard it said that marriage is just a piece of paper. If that is all it means to you, then you shouldn't be in a relationship. Guard your heart and your body and don't give it away unless it is to your spouse. If someone seriously wants your heart and body then they should be mature and respectful enough to formalise their feelings in front of family, friends and God. They should vow to honour you for the rest of their life. If they can't do that, then they don't deserve you.
Have a laugh. Life can be stressful and too serious at times. I recommend that you have fun with your family on a daily basis. Joke around, say silly things, play tricks on your kids! When our kids were little and they asked what was for dinner, we would answer, "vegetable pie amd cabbage pudding". They would sulk and grumble everytime, but if it was a weekend we would end up feeding them pizza or KFC. We got so many laughs from doing that - hey, if your kids are going to give you stress, the you're entitled to get a little bit of amusement out of them. Another funny thing I did once was to buy my husband a really nice jumper. Not long after, I found the exact same jumper in a toddler size, which I bought. When my husband came home I told him I had some bad news and that I had washed his new jumper and it shrunk in the wash. I then brought out our toddler son wearing the toddler size jumper and said, "never mind-it fits our son now". It took him a little while to realise that the there were actually two different sized jumpers!. So by now you may think we are all nuts, but I can guarantee you that not taking life so seriously and acting silly together sometimes, really results in a happy marriage and happy family.
So, I hope you enjoyed my post about marriage and that some of my advice has been helpful. Sadly, we decided not to have an anniversary party, as most of our friends are divorced and can't be in the same room as each other. So we might do something with just the four of us on the weekend. I don't know why God chose me to have such a wonderful life, but I will be forever grateful!