My husband and I married young. He was 19. I was 20. Needless to say, we had a lot to learn about marriage. (In reality, we still do…even after 11 years!)
Here are the top 10 things about marriage I wish I had known then that I know now.
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married
1. Your husband is never going to complete your life.
I grew up dreaming about my wedding. I couldn’t wait to be a wife.
Shortly after my husband and I married, though, I felt disappointed. I wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be. As it turns out, my husband (no matter how hard he tried) couldn’t make me completely happy.
Even the best husbands can’t do that. Don’t expect your husband (as great as he might be) to fill the role that only God can fill.
2. Marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100/100.
I went into marriage thinking, “I’ll do my part, and you can do yours.”
The truth is, our job is to give 100% even if our spouse gives nothing. In great marriages, both parties give 100% to each other.
3. You’re going to fight, so learn to do it well.
Conflict is part of every marriage.
The major difference between a great marriage and a marriage in trouble is not the amount of conflict but the way in which the conflict is handled.
The best piece of advice I ever received about handling conflict is from James 1:19 (NIV): “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
4. Sex isn’t always going to be amazing…and that’s okay.
After all, you and your spouse have years to practice, so don’t put so much pressure on yourself to make it perfect in the beginning.
5. The primary goal of marriage isn’t to make you happy. It’s to be an example of Christ’s love to others.
I got married mainly for selfish reasons. I married because my husband made me happy. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about how important our marriage and our witness was to the Kingdom.
I’ve since learned that happiness is a fleeting emotion, here one moment and gone the next. Our goal for marriage (and for life, in fact) shouldn’t be happiness, but holiness.
6. Your life isn’t going to turn out exactly like you planned it, so work on being flexible now.
I never expected to lose four babies to miscarriage. I never expected to visit infertility clinics on a weekly basis, desperately trying to add a child to our family.
I expected my life to turn out exactly as I planned it, so adjusting to reality was incredibly painful.
Try to learn flexibility now. It will help you later on.
7. Choose to look for the best in your spouse.
Your spouse isn’t perfect. He’s going to make some mistakes. When he does, you will have a choice.
You can either choose to focus on his shortcomings or choose to look for the best in him. That choice is going to play a huge part in your attitude toward him and in your marriage as a whole.
8. If you want your marriage to work, selfishness needs to go.
The #1 cause of divorce in this country is selfishness.
Sure, it might show up in different ways, but ultimately, when a marriage doesn’t work, it’s often because one or both people are thinking mainly of themselves.
Somewhere along the way, they stopped thinking about what was best for their spouse and started focusing on themselves instead.
For a marriage to be successful, you must learn to be selfless.
9. Your spouse is going to mess up (and so are you). Be quick to forgive.
I have a tendency to hold grudges, but I’m learning to forgive more quickly.
After all, the primary person hurt by my unwillingness to forgive is not the offender. It’s me.
10. Marriage is hard…but it’s also worth it.
There are days when I think it would be much easier to be single. There are times when I don’t really like my spouse (and I guarantee you he feels the same about me). Marriage isn’t always wonderful.
But it is always beautiful.
It’s messy, hard, and painful at times.
But it’s also magnificent to be able to share life with another human being. My husband knows me better than just about everyone else on this planet. AND – crazy as it seems some days – he loves me anyway.
Marriage might not be exactly like I thought it would be. Some days, it’s better.
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Lindsey Bell is the author of the devotional for moms, Searching for Sanity, and the upcoming Bible study, Unbeaten. She’s also a speaker for women’s events, a stay-at-home mother of two, a minister’s wife, and a lover of all things chocolate. Connect with her at www.lindseymbell.com.