I love marriage, its no secret. I love seeing people get engaged, seeing them plan their big day, and then being able to be a part of their wedding day itself is so fun. The day I got engaged was amazing even though I sometimes wondered if it would ever happen. I am so grateful now – looking back – that it happened when it did. It showed me yet again that God’s timing is perfect.
We were engaged for about 9 months and it was a crazy and incredibly fun time planning and figuring out each and every detail to make our wedding the way we both envisioned. When that day rolled around (granted I was sick with a cold and sleep deprived from being to excited) I couldn’t wait to marry the most amazing person. Our day went so smoothly and everything worked out exactly how we wanted, and we became husband and wife that day. We had the most amazing and fun honeymoon and were so blessed to be able to do such an epic road trip across the USA (a dream of mine since I was little). It was such a great day that I will remember forever.
With all of this positive stuff being said about marriage, let me point out that no one can explain just how hard it can get sometimes. Our first year was anything but easy. It was a massive learning curve on every level and in every way. We learnt more about each other in that first year than all our years of dating! Only in hindsight am I able to look back, grateful for what we worked through. It made us a stronger (together and as individuals) and helped us see our need for Jesus.
I want to highlight some things I learnt and hope that anyone newly married or engaged can be encouraged.
God calls us to be selfless the way that Jesus is. When you join lives it’s so easy to feel entitled to get your needs met first before you ever dream of helping the other person. This is not how God wants us to live. He wants to grow a desire of selflessness in us where we both put the others needs first. Is this easy or instant? No it isn’t, but it is possible and it is needed. While it is incredibly hard to do within marriage consistently and sincerely I encourage you ladies who are feeling “flippen heck I’ve tried everything, I’m making ALL the effort, he’s not even trying, he’s not helping out with anything, he never spends time with me, he plays games all day and basically ignores me” etc: Remember he CAN’T meet all your needs. It’s literally impossible for him to meet your needs each and every time. He is only human. He may succeed short term, but eventually he will fail. We have to find a way to extend grace, love & forgiveness towards them. To ensure we don’t harbour bitterness or resentment, or even worse, hatred against our husbands, thank them for any small things they do. Maybe they did do something without being asked. Maybe they held a door open for you, maybe they said I love you first for the first time in a long time. Whatever the case maybe for you, think about it for a second: How well would you actually do if your husband seemed to only focus on everything you were doing wrong, and told you often about it. If all we focus on is their bad points that’s all we will see them as – a walking disappointment who’s mere presence annoys us. We are called to love our husbands with a much greater love than simply tolerating them. Let’s create homes where they want to be around us and they want to come home to us. Cultivate a home and marriage that is encouraging and loving.
Theres that saying that ‘you can’t change your spouse’, and that was never more true for us in that first year! I recall many times being mad at God and wondering why He was allowing things to be so difficult. Why wasn’t He answering my prayers? Why was nothing changing? Why couldn’t my husband be who I thought he should be? That was my first problem, because what I wanted him to be and who I thought he should be didn’t really fit into Gods shaping and refining of him at that moment, and He was more likely going to change ME before my husband, and that’s a hard thing to stomach when you’re impatient and frustrated already!
While I can’t change my husband – and it isn’t my right or job do so – God can, and oh boy in that first year He did! What an experience that was! We learnt eventually, and thankfully the true meaning of surrender and what that actually involved. Its about both giving up ALL your own imperfections, bitterness, anger, hate, disappointment, fear, rejection, and anything that is stopping God from having FULL access and first place in your life, and fully believing that He can and will continue to make you more like Him. After we both did this (at about 9 months in) we both saw such a change. We felt more peace than we ever had and for me I gained this new respect and adoration for my husband in a way that I had never really had, even prior to marriage, and a sincere excitement and joy to be around him and spend time together – another thing that wasn’t there before.
Lets get real for a moment
If we are honest, just because I have Jesus in my life doesn’t mean life is easy or perfect, or that we don’t have hard times, even after that first year. Trust me we do. It can be almost awkward for a Christian to admit to themselves that life isn’t going well, or that marriage is harder than they thought, as if there’s this silent sense of shame that hangs over you saying: ‘clearly you don’t have it all together, everyone else’s marriages and lives are going great, whats wrong with yours?’.
People ask: “so how is married life? Don’t you just LOVE it?”. You want to reply: “Heck no! It’s flippen hard! It’s not what I thought at all!”.
What do you say instead? “Yea it’s great, lots of adjusting (code for ‘it sucks right now please don’t ask me that question ever again’)”. Then you walk away feeling even more like “WHAT am I doing wrong? WHY does everyone elses marriages seem to be going so well, and mine just feels hopeless”.
Wanna know a secret? They don’t have it all together, and their marriage isn’t perfect. Sometimes, like Facebook, marriages only show the good parts, but we don’t have the full picture of what goes on behind closed doors. You may be a Christian, but that doesn’t mean you will have it all together, or that things are easier for you. You are a human being after all, and we are all perfectly imperfect.
Ask for help. Reach out to people if you feel that you need to talk to someone. There is no shame in this and there never should be. You don’t have to feel alone or that nobody understands. People do, and it’s a sad fact that a lot of people don’t want to talk about it, and honestly more should! Please don’t suffer in silence get the help you need. Find people around you to seek guidance when things get tough.
My final thoughts
Marriage is hard, it takes work, and it may feel like you’re never going to make it out of the pit, BUT choose to love your husbands no matter what. Encourage them, support their dreams, hopes, and visions. Praise them, forgive, and be willing to say sorry and really mean it. Marriage isn’t about giving up when it gets tough. It’s about being prepared to work through it no matter what and not letting divorce be an option.
Let’s let our vows of for better or worse actually have weight to them, and be more than nice words on our wedding day. Let’s make them a reality and not let them become till my feelings change or till you annoy me so much I can’t take it and I’ll be leaving etc. You loved them enough at one point to marry them, now it’s about putting that word into action. ’cause after all, it’s an action word not a feeling.
“My beloved is mine and I am his” Song of Solomon 2:16
Feel free to sign up and leave a comment about anything you may have learned in that first year or first few years ! I’d love to hear your stories 🙂