I came into marriage with high expectations.
I was well mentored and knew married life would not be always rosy.
But deep down I thought “Tommy and I love each other so much and our love will conquer everything!”
Then I got married.
And realized I had been banking on the feelings of love, not the tough love that is spelled c.o.m.m.i.t.m.e.n.t.
Those mushy feelings of love can disappear quicker than a ray of light on a wintry morning. It’s the choice to love that weathers the stormiest storm.
I was shocked by the depths and heights of becoming one-flesh and it has taken a few years, tears and tantrums to finally figure out that anyone can have a happy marriage..they just need to be choose it.
Looking back, here’s 4 things I wish I understood in the early years of marriage.
1. It’s okay to have challenges in the early years.
Nobody gets married thinking “I am looking forward to conflicting with this guy!”
Especially not when “everyone” expects you to be happy and all other young couples you know look blissful.
I felt horrible for having issues in our marriage. I thought I had let down everyone, from God to my mentors and my husband.
I did not know that everyone, including the sweetest newlyweds next door, have one or two issues to iron out. They just don’t talk about it!
Marital challenges are given because you marry a human being; an imperfect person, just like yourself. Human relationships = imperfection.
So just because you have conflicts or misunderstandings does not mean your marriage is doomed.
Gary Chapman says
“Conflicts are not a sign you’ve married the wrong person. They simply affirm you are human.”
When you come into hardships, you have to activate the power of choice, that strong committed love that does not bank on feelings.
For me that meant
1.Growing in the fruit of the Spirit
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5: 22 and 23
2. And learning to walk in love
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 7
2. Young marriages have seasons (so don’t compare)
Comparison will kill you.
I left my job of 7 years three months to our wedding. My husband got laid off work 4 months after the wedding.
We were newlyweds without jobs or income but with bills to pay, a life to create and a marriage to mind.
I did not understand how joblessness can affect a husband. So when he was withdrawn, irritable and not as lovey dovey, I panicked.
But it was a season. Unfortunately I was busy comparing, busy thinking about the things we were “missing”.
I now know that no two marriages are alike. Even naturally speaking, I don’t look like other people. My relationship will not look like other peoples relationships.
Your marriage is unique, your journey is your own.
Your best friend will have the sweetest challenge-free start to marriage. Someone else might struggle with illness right off the gate.
You might be wading through misunderstanding and financial difficulties.
You won’t look like other people. That’s okay. Different doesn’t mean bad.
God has a different plan for everyone. The end goal is the same – to glorify God. But we get there through different routes.
3. You decide the health of your marriage by the choices you make.
We had the best premarital and post marriage mentoring any couple can have.
One of the things our mentors majored on was “A happy marriage is a decision”
The same way you decide to get married? It’s the same way you decide to stay happily married. (Click to Tweet)
God doesn’t do happiness for you, you choose it.
He helps you with the ability of course, but you have to intentionally apply yourself and make choices that aid your happily ever after, not hinder it.
When things get rocky in marriage, as they are bound to, you don’t just sit there and hope everything will snap into shape by itself.
You don’t sulk, disengage or walk out.
You engage, you pray, you fast, you seek help. You do everything within your God-given calling as helpmate.
You do things that say “I am committed to this marriage, I will put my vow before my feelings”
You cut out toxic environments and surround yourself with people that encourage you towards grace and personal responsibility.
“Having a great marriage isn’t rocket science. It’s simply a choice” said Kristine Carlson
God works with us, in us and through us. He does not override our will. If we want a great marriage, we have to choose it.
4. My husband isn’t always the problem.
As women we sometimes think “If my husband could get it right, our marriage would be fine!”
There’s a bit of truth in that, because a great marriage flies on both wings and men are the leaders in the relationship.
But very often the statement reveals our blame-shifting and responsibility-avoiding ways. We think he’s got all the problems and we got none.
In my seven years of marriage, I have learned that no matter what we are going through as a couple, or who started it, God will come looking at the condition of my heart.
He starts with me, even when I think my husband is to blame.
So here’s something to understand about your husband; you can’t change him. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit.
Change is something that your husband has to decide for himself.
In the meanwhile, change will begin to flow into your life as you allow God to change you, even in these imperfect situations.
When you are feeling unfairly treated but remain kind, when you want to read him the riot act but instead find a bathroom and cry out to God instead.
Because if God can reach your heart, He can reach your situation and turn it around for HIS glory.
There’s a place for speaking hard truths and confronting sin and unhealthy dynamics in marriage, of course.
But all these flow from a place of personal responsibility and understanding that God is after you, not just your husband.
Question: What lessons have you learned in your years of marriage? I would love to hear your thoughts in Comments!
Struggling with young marriage adjustments? My book Blues to Bliss can help! Learn how to take personal responsibility for your emotions and habits so you can create the marriage of your dreams (God’s way!) Click here to learn more, and to find purchase links.
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Linking with Wifey Wednesday, Wedded Wednesday