“Maw-wage brings us here today.” If you don’t know where that quote is from, you need to add watching The Princess Bride to your weekend to-do list asap. But before you do that, I want to give you some insiders information on the top twenty-five things I wish I knew before I got married.
You may be already married, almost married, used-to-be married or nowhere even close to being married. No matter where you are in relationship status, I think you can find something here to take with you.
Now, keep in mind that every marriage is just as unique and different as every couple. That said, my list of what I wish I had known may be very different from the list the lady next to me at HomeGoods may have. So keep that in mind as we dig in. Ready? Set. Go.
I wish I had know that…
1. Marriage would not look or feel anything like what I had observed anywhere else. Marriage will not look like what you see on tv, in movies or on Instagram. It won’t even be like what you saw growing up with your own parents. Your marriage will be uniquely yours. Going into to marriage with a preconceived idea of “this is how it’s supposed to be” or “this is the way my parents did things” is not going to work. Marriage will be what you both make of it. You have a clean slate to build and cultivate the type of marriage you want.
2. The “newlywed phase” is a phase. As a newlywed, I saw couples who had been married for years and I noticed that they weren’t as enamored with each other as I was with my husband. I vowed to myself to always feel the same way as I did in those first months of marriage. Well guess what?? Ya girl learned something! You don’t love your husband any less just because you aren’t googley-eyed anymore. In fact, my love now is much deeper than it ever was as a newlywed. I definitely don’t take my spouse for granted, but I’m not following him from room to room either. So there certainly is a newlywed phase. Don’t freak out if you aren’t in it anymore. Growth happens!
3. I had a lot of work to do in areas of my character. Whew, I don’t know if this should be a few sentences or a book! There are some things that you will never know about yourself until God puts you in situations that expose those things. Marriage is a HUGE tool that God uses to mold us. I knew I was impatient but I didn’t realize how impatient. Beyond the things I knew needed to change in my heart, I began to realize there is even more that I didn’t even know about. The cool thing about God is that He is always refining us and making us more and more into the image of His Son. Be prepared, Sis! Lots of work ahead!
4. I did not have some basic life skills, neither did my husband. Unless you are cinderella, and have a bunch of wild mice and birds that help you sew and clean, you may find that you are lacking a few life skills here and there. For example, growing up my mom did all the cooking. Once I got to college I ate in the cafeteria and after college most of my meals were fast food or restaurants. But when I got married, I had to start cooking. I have some of the best worst cooking stories. I never really had to cook before just like my husband never had to hang up curtain rods before. There’s a big learning curve when you have had other people doing things for you and now it’s your time to do it. Give yourself some time to learn.
5. Decisions are made together. I have seen people who have been married for yeeeears who still don’t make decisions together. Person “A” makes the decisions and person “B” has to agree or else they have to deal with person “A’s” tantrum. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. If you are like me (and like most people) you like to have things go your way. This is where we go back to point number #3. If you keep forcing things to go your way, how are you going to grow in your character? If you keep throwing fits, how are you learning to control your temper? Marriage is team work. Each person has an equal say and you have to work together to come to your decisions.
6. My father in laws simple advice would be the most profound. I love my father in law. He’s a really awesome man. He is one of those people that doesn’t talk very much, but when he does there is a lot of wisdom to be gleaned. One thing that he always says when we’re saying goodbye to him in person or through text is, “Take care of each other.” At first, I didn’t really pay attention to what he was saying. Now that I’ve been married over ten years I know the importance of what he’s saying. There is no one who can care for my husband like I can and vice versa. We need to be there for one another, carry each others burdens and encourage one another. No one else on this planet has the access to my husband’s heart like I do. It’s my job to take care of him and it’s his job to take care of me. (And bring me snacks.)
7. Money is a big deal. It’s just a statistical fact. Money is the number one reason that couples fight. Thankfully, we made plans for our money before we got married. We made sacrifices, cut corners and saved money like crazy to be able to pay cash for our entire wedding. We didn’t have an amazing out of the country type honeymoon. It was really very basic. But let me tell you that it made a huge difference to not have to worry about paying off wedding debt while trying to figure out how to be married those first couple of years. Do your best now to take that potential stress off of your marriage.
8. My husbands relationship with his mom was much different from my relationship with my mom. While I loved my mom a lot, I grew up a really independent person. In college, I never understood why some girls would call their mom for every. single. little. thing. I would just figure things out on my own and keep it moving. When I got married, I learned that Aaron and his mom are very close. It was such a different experience for me to see, but I am thankful for their closeness. In fact, I hope to be as close to my boys as she is to Aaron. So, keep in mind that your spouses familial relationships are not right or wrong. There are just different ways of being family and it’s an opportunity for you to learn something.
10. Our “for better” moments would be joyful beyond anything we ever knew. It’s hard to describe the best moments of your life. You feel like jumping up and down, you may cry tears of joy, you may just sit back taking in the moment wishing it would never end. Marriage is FULL of these types of moments. They arrive in countdowns and in big surprises. They will comprise the highlight reel of your life. These are the scenes that you will want to replay over and over again in your mind. These are the experiences that you will want to lock into your memory for forever. I can’t tell you what your best moments will be, but when they happen you will know.
11. Our “for worse” moments would be so dark. These are the hard, ugly moments that you will never want to go through. Every marriage and every life will have these experiences. They will be different for everyone. Some people will have more trials than others. These hard times are defining moments. They can bring you closer together, or tear you two apart. Know that these moments will come, but determine in your heart now that they will not overtake you. You can get through them.
12. You can’t make two burgers from one pound of beef and expect normal sized burgers. Okay, so there are things that are common sense but you just don’t realize them at the time. For example, in our first week home from our honeymoon, I was all about making a menu for the week. I decided I would make burgers one night. Cool. So what did I do? Well, I got a pound of ground beef and since there was two of us, I cut it in half and made two burger patties. Like, giant burger patties. Looking back now I’m wondering, “What was I thinking!?” After my new hubby and I ate HALF POUND burgers, we went into a burger coma shortly after dinner. We fell asleep on top of our sheets, still in our work clothes around 7pm and didn’t wake up until close to midnight. Good times, good times. Look forward to these “what was I thinking moments”. Looking back, they will make for fun memories.
13. We would have to be our own cheerleaders. I cannot stress this one enough. You, like us, may have great family members, or you may not. Despite how your extended family members are, there is something you must remember. You have to be your own cheerleader. What I mean by this is that there will be days that you or your spouse may be down and discouraged. Mom, dad, sister, brother or bff’s are not going to be the ones to come along and lift your spirits all the time. That is now your role. You both have to be that one in the corner of the ring for the other. Provide encouragement, challenge each other for greatness, and spur one another on to new heights.
14. Husbands be forgetting! This just makes me laugh because it’s true! I know we forget stuff too ladies, but this is not about us! lol. When we were newlyweds, there was this one time that I had a weird smell in my car on the way to work. After work, I looked in my car but I couldn’t find where the smell was coming from. Over the next couple of days it got progressively worse. It happened that a few days after I first smelled the odor, I opened my trunk to put something in there and I saw a trash bag full of trash! I told Aaron and he slapped his forehead and said “Oh, I forgot the trash!” Since we lived in an apartment, he would sometimes put our trash in the trunk and drop it into the dumpster on his way to work This time, he just did a “set it and forget it”. We got a good laugh out of it and still do when situations like that happen.
15. We would go through rough patches. This is a no brainer. Every marriage has its seasons. Please don’t believe the lie that someone you see has a perfect marriage because the perfect marriage doesn’t exist. In my experience, marital conflict comes in where sin has been allowed to sit. It is important to get down to the root of the issue in order to move forward. Facing things like selfishness, pride, inability to forgive, resentment and bitterness are key to conflict resolution. These issues are to be expected because we are flawed, imperfect human beings. The key is to both equally work hard on these areas and walk together on the path that leads to unity and peace.
16. The man I married would evolve and mature. This has been one of my favorite things about my marriage. Having a front row seat to watch the person you love and cherish grow and mature is a gift. But bear in mind that your husband’s growth doesn’t happen on your timeline. Give grace and give room for the Lord to do His work in His time. When you look back and see how far your husband has come, there will be a lot for you to be proud of. Look forward to watching his glow up!
17. Marriage takes a lot of sacrifice. Oh man. No one likes this one. You will have to make sacrifices big and small throughout your entire marriage. This will never change. And in your first year or two of marriage, you will make some of the biggest adjustments in this area. Sacrifice for you could be as simple as changing the temperature in your home, to having to share everything you once had to yourself. It could even be taking on extra work at home or with kids for the next several years because your spouse is in school, or it could be sticking with your spouse through a rough time emotionally, mentally or physically. Purpose in your heart and mind that your marriage is worth the sacrifice, because it is.
18. I would laugh the hardest that I ever laughed in the history of laughs. Some of the best gut-busting laughs will you ever wheeze out of your lungs will be with your husband. I love to laugh so hard that my eyes start watering. If I can fall on the floor for dramatic effect, I will do that too. Marriage just sets the table for some really hilarious moments! Brace yourself. It’s about to get ridiculous!
19. I would learn and develop some of my husbands qualities as my own. This is another of my personal favorite things about marriage. I have such a high respect for my husband. There are so many good qualities about him that have rubbed off on me over time. I would say that my patience has grown. I am a little bit better at thinking before I speak although nowhere near as good as him in these areas. Pray that your spouse’s positive qualities would become your own. And pray that you would exemplify characteristics that you wouldn’t mind your husband also exhibiting.
20. Competitive nature would rear its ugly head. These are the disappointing parts that I wish I wasn’t writing. But, I’m just keeping it real for you. It’s part of our sinful nature to compare and compete. This can happen to you as a couple trying to measure up to the couples around you. It can even happen within a marriage where a couple can compete with one another. One of the sillier things we competed about was who was the most tired with a newborn. It’s so silly looking back now, but we had to prove to the other that we were the most tired because we are doing this and that. This competitive spirit does absolutely nothing to move you forward as a couple. In fact, operating in this mentally will keep you focused on everything but that which moves you forward. Beware of that competitive spirit so you can steer clear.
21. We would have our own inside jokes and secrets. Oh I love this one. It’s gotta be one of my favorite things that I had no idea existed until I actually got married. As a married couple, we have secret jokes and things that make us laugh. Obviously, I can’t tell you everything because then it wouldn’t be a secret, but one thing that we do when we’re being silly is that we’ll start talking to each other with a lisp. It is seriously the funniest. All these things just happen organically and they are the best and some of my most favorite moments.
22. We would both do a lot of apologizing and forgiving. Let me just say that if you have a hard timing saying the words “I’m sorry.” and “I forgive you.” and really meaning them, then you are in for a hard time. Get familiar and get comfortable with with these two sentences now because they will be like the liquid grace that will put out a very many fires. I remember as newlyweds we once got into it. I don’t remember now what it was about, but I was upset. I knew the right thing for me to do was to apologize. I said, “Aaron, I’m sorry for the way I was talking. Will you forgive me?” He smiled and hugged me and said, “Of course I do.” After I was done waiting I said half joking, “So what are you sorry for?” We both starting laughing because it was so like me to expect an apology too. Fast forward and we still do a lot of forgiving and apologizing. I often think about the quote that says, “The first one to apologize wins the argument.” Stick that one in your back pocket. You will need it. A lot.
23. Recognized the opportunity for personal growth and development. If you are partnered with the right person, they will naturally spur you on to personal growth and development. This happened for me, although I was unaware of the positive changes over time. I wonder what kind of growth I would have experienced had I been aware of and looking for opportunities to grow. My advice to my just married or going-to-be-married-one-day friends would be to look for opportunity to grow and change. Be aware and be willing to grow.
24. How deeply feelings of any kind can grow. This one is interesting. I firmly believe that what you feed will grow. That is just the way the world works. Feed your anger, bitterness and resentment toward your spouse and that will be what grows. Feed your respect and love toward your spouse and watch that grow. When those things grow, they grow in all directions, in width, depth and height. Make sure you are always aware of what you are causing to grow in your heart towards your husband.
25. How much God would use my marriage to mold me into the image of His son Jesus. This right here is one of the main purposes of marriage. In marriage there is the opportunity for God to use your spouse and the situations in marriage, good and bad, to mold you, shape you and sharpen you. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” When iron mets iron, sparks will fly! But when that connection happens, you take shape. Pray that God would use your marriage and your spouse to mold you more and more into the image of His son Jesus. It’s the best kind of prayer to pray over your marriage.
Well, that sums up my list of twenty five things I wish I knew before I got married. If you are already married, what are some things you would have on your list? If you plan to be married one day, which one of these was the most interesting to you? I would love to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments!