I can’t say “nobody” told me about these things. But I can truthfully say that I may not have heard everything that was said to me in the barrage of life that was hitting. I wrapped up my internship, accepted my first pastoral position, went through 6 weeks of sickness, oh, and got ready for my wedding. So, yeah, life was busy.
For Anne and myself, our wedding was the finale to singleness. It was a goodbye to a year-long engagement (long engagements suck; the waiting, the temptation, the stress…). So the drive from our reception brought this sense of relief. It was like a 3-year weight (length of our dating) lifted off our shoulders. I think we physically walked taller with everything behind us.
I didn’t have to drive her home at the end of the day. We didn’t have to worry about sexual temptation between us anymore (praise God). It was just us and our honeymoon. Life was good.
I would say that it hit us 24 hours after we got back from the honeymoon. Our two worlds of every day, normal living would collide. It was that reality check that told us: the wedding wasn’t the finale, it was the launch. I know somebody probably told me that, but the reality of that didn’t sink in.
Marriage is designed for the long-haul. And part of that difficult and wonderful journey is becoming a student of your spouse, learning to serve without expectations, and constantly remaining teachable. So in that vein of thought, I asked myself: What are some of the lessons that, I feel, nobody warned me about (or that I took for granted):
- You see a partial view of who they really are when you are dating.
- When you are in the dating mode, you conceal some things. I’m not saying you are being fake; you’re trying to put your best foot forward. It’s why I’ll warn people about the person they’re dating. If it doesn’t seem like they’re even trying to make a good (or truthful) impression upon you, what is awaiting for you in marriage will severely disappoint you.
- I’m harder to live with than I realize.
- I’m used to me. I had lived with me and my way of living for 22 years. So she must be the problem right? I took for granted how drastically different our upbringing was, the daily habits we observed, and the schedule we desired to keep.
- Fighting if handled correctly, can actually help bring us together.
- I knew we would fight. I just didn’t understand that it would be one of the greatest unifiers in our marriage. But the unifying component depends upon the intent of the conflict. Are you after the win for you? Or are you after the win for the marriage? The goal of resolution creates humility, forgiveness, healing, and growth.
- Quality time trumps quantity of time.
- I’ve been moving away from the word “balance” in a number of ways. And this falls into that. Anne and I chased after the balance of time. The church gets “this” much time, the marriage gets “that” much time and so on. Trying to keep everything “even” was exhausting PLUS didn’t feel like it was balanced out. We changed mentalities to embrace quality and concentrated over quantity and diluted. Then there’s the question of what defines “quality time.” That’s for another blog.
- We need to forgive more often (amount) than we anticipate and more (depth) than we realized.
- You didn’t marry the “perfect person” and neither did your spouse. The dating and honeymoon period tends to shroud the brokeness the two of you brought into the marriage. The reality of living together 24/7 reveals it. Don’t let forgiveness get old; practice it often in the same why Christ has given it to you.
- Fun is a relative word.
- Couples take for granted leisure activities and that is a HUGE mistake. It’s hard to tell you the amount of times Anne said, “are you going to watch the entire football game?” She knew what I like. I knew what she liked. We just took for granted the levels of dedication we had to what we considered “fun.” We had to learn that it was okay to enjoy things together AND things apart. Both are necessary.
- Temptation doesn’t stop; it takes on new forms.
- We were virgins when we got married. So the temptation during that year of engagement was intense. And just because we were married, it didn’t eliminate temptation. The Enemy just targeted us differently. If anything, the greatest temptation we’ve face is the propensity to put “self” first before our spouse. It’s real. It’s an everyday battle.
- Sex is more than what society emphasizes AND more important than we realized.
- This is the one need that your spouse is equipped to meet that nobody outside of your marriage can provide. Yet our over-sexed media sweeps in to steer us toward dissatisfaction. From commercials to the movies we ingest, our culture constantly seeds false senses of expectations and air-brushed comparisons. Thus the reason why there is an importance of a consistent marital sex and a constant guard of our eyes/minds. Sexual frequency fights frustrations; serving each other fuels sexual success.
- You will say, “I didn’t sign up for this!”
- We’ve all been there (and quite possibly, visit again). These are the moments that catch us off guard and make us want to throw something at the pastor who did our premarital counseling. I feel we just take for granted the amount of work marriage is mixed with the blending of two people and all of the baggage that comes with it. Simply said: Marriage is tough. It is extremely hard to get your marriage to some place of health AND then try to keep yourself there.
- We didn’t realize how realize how much Matthew 22:36-40 would help us.
- Saved the best for last. Putting Christ first in our relationship helped prioritize the necessity of our relationships. We discovered the love of God and experienced His grace it helps us to live it out to one another. The joy, patience, forgiveness, etc. is all a spillover from what we receive from our relationship with God.
Love you all. I’m sure this list could/should be longer. But there’s so much here already that I pray you might see something that could challenge you to step into a place of humility and teachability. And that’s a place where change is fostered.
Thanks for letting me ramble…