It has been a couple years now since I stepped down from my post as youth pastor at Immaculate Conception. In the time I find myself missing the ministry and the great friendships and fellowships that encompassed it. However, stepping down from the ministry may have been one of the best things I could have done for my sanity. I was burning out at a rate dangerous for someone to keep their faith and their mind.
One of the things I miss the most was being able to help counsel teens and young adults through their toughest decisions; especially relationships. It appears more then ever young people have been left to their own devices on how to function within a marriage, and it shows in the divorce and separation rate. It breaks my heart to see 20 somethings struggling through the marriage when a few words of wisdom could really help, if not prevent, these harms.
1. Don’t air your dirty laundry on Facebook. In fact don’t air your dirty laundry at all! When you and your spouse have an issue keep it between you and them. If things don’t improve take your issue, both of you, to a trusted friend, parent(s), pastor, etc… don’t let your 600+ friends in the social networking cloud know what’s going on.
2. Have realistic expectations of one another. Your spouse is not infallible, and eventually once you get past the honeymoon phase of marriage you will learn that they will let you down. Realize as time goes on they will continue to grow in maturity as the marriage does. On the flip side know you’re not perfect either. You most likely have areas you need to grow in. Keep your eyes on the future as you grow together and become better mates.
3. Live within your means. If I could stress any of these three points the deepest this would be it. My generation has been called a microwave generation because we want things instantly. We also have been referred to as a generation of entitlement because we seem to believe we should have everything we want. I have noticed a trend among people my age who get married, buy a house that is more then 40% of their monthly take home income along with new vehicles for him and her. Add in a bass boat, atv, motorcycle, and whatever else and young couples find themselves spending more then they make and they still haven’t paid the utilities or bought groceries. Don’t forget the added cost of raising child; whenever that may occur. Most couples assume that if they simply place these purchases on a credit card they can pay it off quick and won’t be in trouble. Sadly, pink slips and injuries never consider our best laid plans. One or both gets laid off, a huge bill shows up, debt piles up, tension builds, and the couple considers whether marriage was right for them.
I understand it’s the natural desire of every married couple to have the same nice things that their parents had, however, some couples never consider it took years even decades for their parents to acquire the wealth to buy that new car, boat, or house.
Before you bury yourself in debt sit down and see how you both make on a monthly basis and see what you can honestly spend on a house, car payments, utilities, upkeep, and any outstanding debts (student loans, credit cards). Now figure out what you can start to stash away in a savings account. Dave Ramsey recommends always having 6 months worth of living expenses saved away, and that’s a great place to be if you can save it.