Have you ever found yourself in a conversation with a friend where you have uttered the phrase: “I wish somebody had told me, I wish I had known these things before hand, then maybe I wouldn’t have been as shocked, or I would have been better prepared for it?!” Please, tell me that I am not the only one who has either thought about the above or said it out aloud?
Before getting married nearly ten years ago, my husband and I did a premarital course through our church. We thought this would prepare and enlighten us as we moved into this exciting new chapter in our lives together. Some of the points were helpful, like :“Keep God at the center of your marriage, keep working on your marriage, and don’t go to bed angry with one another.” Helpful, yet very hard principles to follow and keep in place, especially during more trying seasons.
As my husband and I have grown together as a couple, and as individuals, along with all the ups and downs, there have been a few moments where we have been like; “No one told me, I had no idea, I have no idea what to do in this situation!” I believe these are normal moments everyone in a couple goes through, because going through them together makes your relationship stronger. Never see challenges within a marriage as defeat, but rather as opportunities to grow in love, and to grow in character.
Things we wished we knew before getting married
My husband and I were discussing the other day all the little things that made us feel so unprepared as a married couple. But in other ways, we are so appreciative of those little shock-factor-surprising-moments, because it encouraged us to grow in love.
1. Marriage is not perfect – It’s an adventure
- My husband and I got married in our mid twenties, so we naturally thought that we would rock this thing called marriage. Ha! Boy were we wrong. I think I had this idea that my husband and I would have a practically perfect marriage. Then we started bumping heads in our first year of marriage, and realized that in some ways we were so different in how we communicated and dealt with things. This used to make me feel so flustered and vulnerable, because marriage didn’t always feel easy or comfortable.
- I remember after a year or two of being married I stopped focusing on “why our marriage wasn’t perfect”, and I started to embrace our marriage ‘flaws and all’. Marriage isn’t perfect after all, as you have two very imperfect people trying to make something work. Which means it’s bound to have rocky moments where you disagree, or take offense. Every bumping of heads, through to life challenges and grander sweeter seasons requires constant faith and a determination to work together for love!
2. Don’t set your partner up for unrealistic expectations
- How often do we fail others, by having them fail to meet our unrealistic expectations. Sometimes, we may even fail or dismiss our partners because they never met an expectation that they didn’t even know about. That kind of treatment is unfair and unkind, especially when they had no idea that it was even an expectation. Again, a marriage consists of two imperfect people, therefore, do not strive for perfection, strive for authenticity.
3. You cannot afford to become familiar and lazy within your relationship
- Just like taking care of plants outside may require watering, sun, and intentional removing of weeds and feeding the soil, our marriages need to be nurtured and cared for. If we let our marriages fend for themselves, and neglect them all together – our marriages won’t flourish or excel. Take, and make, the time to be intentional about nurturing your marriage, by doing things that feed into you as a couple and bring you closer together.
4. Never fight each other, fight the issue
- Biggest learning curve for my husband and I was too not take things personally and not to fight each other because of our insecurities. It’s never easy being called out on something, as it makes us feel vulnerable and a bit weak, like a failure. Yet, if we want to grow in character, and grow in love that means addressing root problems head on, and figuring out ways to overcome them together.
5. Always speak the truth in love – not from emotion
- We are humans with feelings, and of course we want to feel justified in expressing them, as we see fit. But when it comes to our partners, our job is to not only guard our hearts, but to guard theirs. Therefore, regardless of how we may feel in that moment – it does not justify poor behavior. If you feel that you are getting rather explosive when heated emotionally, maybe take a step back, breathe for a few moments, and remind yourself that you are not fighting the person, but the problem.
6. Always choose to forgive, to love and to not be selfish
- Choosing to forgive and to love always, is not easy. Yet, when done often, it becomes a natural habit and a natural way to respond when more challenging seasons arise. It’s easy to be selfish with our love, and to hold onto an offense. Yet, none of these things will bring good fruit within your marriage, it will only bring resentment and bitterness. Choosing to forgive and to love generously will keep your marriage strong, and will mature you in character.
7. Always support and encourage one another to dream
- I think sometimes as we go through life, we forget to encourage one another to dream, or we may even forget to show constant support whether through verbal encouragement, or through practical hands-on helping to see each others dreams come to pass. My husband and I constantly talk about our different dreams, and we are so determined to seeing those dreams come alive.
Marriage = an adventure full of surprises
Marriage isn’t perfect, it’s a gift. Marriage will have its ups and downs, but mostly ups. Marriage requires two very imperfect people wanting to make their marriage thrive and grow. Marriage is selfless, and always wanting to serve the other as best as possible. Marriage is wanting to see your spouse grow into their full potential. Truth be told, as much as we would like to be prepared for marriage, we often aren’t, and that’s okay.
Marriage is one fun unpredictable adventure! 🙂