There are generally two takes on marriage in the beginning stage. One says that the first years are bliss and are considered honey moon phase. The adverse opinion demands that the first couple years are a nightmare until a smooth flow is established.
Having talked with many couples I’ve found that both cases are indeed valid and often substantiated by the individual experience.
I’d say that the first scenario was true for me. We got along pretty well. It felt as if we were sorta playing house. Our routine was generally normal. We had BIG dreams and visions for our future. However, after the first year all HELL broke out.
Wishing I had the wisdom then as I do now I’d definitely do things completely different.
If I were to write a letter to my younger self regarding marriage, here are some key points that I’d make:
LAY ASIDE YOUR every preconceived notion, unrealistic expectation or FANTASY ABOUT MARRIAGE that you have. You may be disappointed in your own relationship if you idolize relationships from movies or reality TV. Don’t compare your relationship to fake social media posts, that’s an unrealistic expectation. Comparison is a thief of joy and also breeds discontentment. Keep in mind that you may be looking at someone’s status that’s in the middle of their journey while you may be in your beginning. Also, UNSPOKEN expectations rob your spouse of the opportunity to meet your need. Even if the expectation seems basic or obvious, it may not be apparent to your spouse. Unmet expectations bring about frustration which leads to bitterness and ultimately judgment. Eventually this will divide your relationship and be a source for an atmosphere of discord and tension. In this environment love cannot grow and thrive healthily. Your spouse cannot read your mind so express your need.
MARRIAGE DOES NOT COMPLETE YOU NOR MAKE YOU WHOLE. Don’t count on finding your identity or purpose in your spouse. NO person can ever give you your identity or purpose, ONLY God can. Become whole beforehand. Your spouse should complement you not define or complete you. Let your husband off the hook. He is not nor should he ever be responsible for your complete happiness or vice versa. That’s too heavy a burden to bear. That is your personal responsibility. If he adds to you then that’s awesome if not you will not die behind that. Trust God to supply your joy.
YOU CANNOT CHANGE HIM, you can only change yourself. Once YOU change it doesn’t matter what isn’t perfect about him. Allow him to make mistakes. To fail. To Learn. To Grow. It’s okay to influence them however; trying to manipulate or control someone is evil. Even God doesn’t control us. He gave us a will as free moral agents.
KNOW EACH OTHER’S LOVE LANGUAGE. Without this understanding it will be a hit or miss on effectively communicating and meeting each other’s NEEDS. Otherwise you may misinterpret one another’s intentions. You’ll give each other what you think they need instead of what is really required. Learn their top love languages and you’ll be more prone to addressing it appropriately while gaining more personal fulfilment.
DO NOT KEEP SECRETS. Doing so stifles the harmony, unity, growth and intimacy of your relationship. Ultimately it divides, breaches trust and disrupts the peace among you. Transparency and vulnerability may be intimidating but it actually creates intimacy. Be willing to share your deepest dark fears, struggles
HAVE JOINT BANK ACCOUNTS. I know Big Momma always said “keep your personal stash for a rainy day and they don’t need to know everything.” One flesh is one flesh. Your money vs. my money, splitting bills is not congruent with the vision and principle of oneness. It’s a matter of honor. Failure to do so demonstrates the root cause, lack of trust and/or fear. If someone is irresponsible then work together on budget, take classes etc. Finances are a major catalyst in the statistics of high divorce rates. Get it together.
MARRIAGE IS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE JUST BETWEEN MAN AND WOMAN ALONE, but must also include God. GOD is and should be your source. You CANNOT know love nor give it without God who IS love. Marriage was never meant to be done without God. Your marriage should be a reflection of Christ. Because marriage requires you to give so much of yourself, you must get your supply from a bigger, higher source in order to get to a higher place in your relationship. Where are you getting your fuel from? You must be poured into in order to pour out. You need God to be a good wife, mother etc. God wants to empower your relationship. God supplies the need of EVERYTHING in your life. Trust him with your relationship.
WORDS MATTER. Whoever said “Sticks and stones may break your bones but WORDS will never hurt you!” was no true philosopher. What you say and how you say it is extremely crucial. Most of the time it’s not what you’re saying that is the problem but it’s HOW you say it. TONE MATTERS. Keep word choices under control. Remember, your inappropriate response is NOT valid just because it is justified. It actually takes a great deal of strength to be gentle, meek and honorable. Use your words to build your spouse up and affirm them. You can speak to the King in him or to the Kid in him. Whichever one you focus on will have the greater manifestation in your relationship. Encourage what you want to continue to see versus what you don’t want.
Please keep in mind that the journey of MARRIAGE IS A MARATHON AND NOT A SPRINT. You will NOT achieve your ideal status overnight. In a microwave society we want things instantaneously. That expectation is sure to set you up for failure. Extend grace and mercy to grow into the spouse that you want them to become. You always extend grace to your children; do the same for your spouse.
If I had known these valuable principles early on in my marriage, I can’t tell you how dramatically different things would’ve been. Talk about tremendously helping to ease the process of becoming one. My goodness this insight would’ve made ALL the difference! My struggle and growing pains can now benefit someone else on their journey. I’m happy to share my life lessons to enlighten and lighten the load for others. If this has provided any value to you please share it on social media or email that friend who needs it right now.