It was the night before our one year wedding anniversary, and I was curled up on the sofa; clutching a t-shirt wet by tears.
A few hours earlier, Tommy and I had one of our biggest fights. Yes, we argued the night before our first anniversary and we went to bed separately.
Rather he went to bed, I went to the couch.
I cannot recall the details of our disagreement (funny how you forget those things), but I was on the couch till 3 in the morning, moaning the loss of the marriage of my dreams.
Looking back, after almost 8 years of marriage this August, here are 6 things I would tell my one-year married self;
1. Sometimes dreams have to die before they can live
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24
What you want out of your marriage, and what God wants are two different things.
You think you have it mapped out, based on your upbringing, life experiences, dreams, and expectations.
You think you know how Tommy should treat you and how marriage should play out, right down to his exact behavior.
Right now you cannot perceive the dangerous path you are on; trying to create a marriage in your likeness. But God will intervene.
All you cherished dreams will crumble, resulting in many tear-filled nights, like tonight. He will strip you of your ideas and agendas.
You are mourning the death of your happily ever after – this idea of marriage you created in your mind.
But if you could look into the future, you would rejoice over the pieces scattered around you because you would see outcome, the potential, not death.
This stripping, this utter brokenness, and defeat will lead you straight into the arms of God as you seek filling.
Without your emptiness, you would not seek His fullness. You think it’s about a marriage dear, but it is not. It’s about your heart and what God wants to do in you.
2. He won’t always be this way
A few years from now, he will be washing dishes and doing laundry without being asked. He will be opening his heart without you playing drill sergeant.
He will be praying for you, opening doors for you, occasionally cooking dinner. He will have a tune on his lips and a song in his heart.
All these things you are crying for will be effortless in the future.
And you know what? The habits won’t be as important as they are right now; you could live without most of them and still be a joyful wife in Christ.
3. On the other hand, not everything will change
Some things will change, but others will not. For example, he still won’t be a regular in the kitchen. But how you look at things will change.
As you in grow in patience and understanding, as you begin to see your husband as a child of God who needs Him as much as you do, then your focus will shift from molding him into your image to releasing him to God to be shaped in His image and likeness.
Yes, you will have hard conversations. You will put on your big girl pants and do your part to bring health and wholeness to your relationship.
But first you’ll understand that growth is about you. A wife who is under the influence and direction of the spirit, rather than her emotions will bear much (1 Cor 13:4-7)
Spouses are not meant to change one another, they are vessels in His service and they work best on their knees.
As you bath your marriage in grace and prayer, God will give you something grander and your “honey-be-list” will fall away as dust.
4. Stop holding your breath for a perfect relationship
You can’t wait to grow up, can you?
Spoiler alert: the only people who never have differences with their spouse, are individuals who don’t have a spouse.
As long as you are married, whatever number of years, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see things differently. For the simple reason, you are two different people!
As you grow, you’ll learn how to communicate better. You will begin champion unity and teamwork, instead looking out for self.
Stop holding your breath for the day he will love you flawlessly, and you will adore him utterly, and you will have a perfect relationship.
Perfect marriages do not exist because perfect people do not exist. The good news is that you don’t need perfect to be gloriously happy.
You just need to choose happy; bringing life into your union instead of waiting for your spouse to do the work.
5. The more strong willed you are, the harder the lessons might be
You once described yourself as a Jesus-feminist because you believed He needed a little help to set the men straight. The hard edges have melted off, but there are still parts of your heart that need transformation.
I wish I could tell you that instant change awaits you; unfortunately, that won’t be the case. Yours will be a journey of slow stripping.
If God kicked out every prop that is holding you up right now, you would die. Some things are so deep, so ingrained, you have no capacity to bear their demise or understand His workings.
So He will take you on a journey. And as He strips you of yourself, your fears, sin, burdens, misconceptions, and worries, He will fill all those spaces with Himself.
What a grand trade-off! Do not worry about growing up; don’t be in a hurry. The best route to growth is a laser focus on Jesus; you focus on Him and He grows you up (He does a much better job, trust me)
Some lessons will take longer to learn but others, will be like a short race. But in everything and for all things He takes away, He will add more into your life and give you life and marriage you never imagined possible.
6. Everybody got stuff. Without exception.
See that perfect couple, the one you admire? The wife will be seeking your help a few months from now.
Nothing wrong with holding a sister’s hand, but I wish you could see that now so you stop comparing your journey to other peoples.
Brides and grooms are sojourners; everyone has to deal with something. If they say otherwise, they are probably not being honest with themselves or each other.
As for you; you can’t possibly understand the lessons and backgrounds or wounds that people bring into their relationship.
You and Tommy, like every human, came into marriage carrying familial flaws, marks, and habits.
Yes, you had phenomenal mentoring, which unfortunately led you to believe that you are exempted from facing your humanity but dear girl you are not.
Mentorship prepared you to face your hardships, so you would not run.
So stop comparing your life and marriage to other couples. Also, understand that when God intends to use you to help other marriages; you go through hard stuff so you can serve out of real life experience and grace.
To the young, and not so young bride
Maybe you are reading my musings as a newlywed; many that read this blog are in their early years of marriage. We have many oldies too, but I want to talk to you, early-wed wife.
If you take away anything from my reflection, I want you to remember this thought; hold on to Jesus, more than you hold on to your husband.
The early weeks, months and years are all kinds of sweet and intense. Which can be confusing because we expected them to be only one way…sweet.
They are intense for a reason; God wants to do a greater work in us first.
When we allow God to work in us (as opposed to reading our husbands mail), it becomes easy to know when things are out of sorts, AND He gives the grace and plan to work through the difficulties.
Your turn; can you identify with my thoughts?? And tears!? lol. What would you tell your newlywed self? What key lesson has God taught you? Let us chat in comments!
To read my full story and how God rescued me from myself and taught me how to create a marriage based on grace and intentional giving, pick up my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After In The Early Years. You will learn how to create the marriage of your dreams, God’s way. Purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. eBook version is $4.97 and Paperback is $9.99
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