I gave up on the idea marriage.
I was 32 years old, single and had no boyfriend.
I remember sitting on the bus one day, heading out to my sister’s house to watch her three children. I was battling disappointment. My greatest ambition in life was to be a wife a mom, but with each passing year that dream faded farther and farther from sight.
Little did I know that in just 5 short months a romance would bud, a year later I’d be engaged and planning a wedding.
Only 13 months later, to the day, from the night my husband I began dating, I walked down the aisle to say I do to the man of my dreams.
Next month we’ll celebrate 8 years!
Here are 8 things I’ve learned in 8 years of marriage.
1. The best part isn’t the wedding. I like to watch wedding reality shows. From picking out the dress to planning the reception…it’s all so fun and romantic! But one thing I’ve realized is how much money, time and energy is spent on planning the event, but that isn’t even the best part!
The best part is day-to-day married life. The little things that deepen love; sharing joy and pain, forgiveness and sacrifice, making a home and welcoming babies; but most of all, enduring life’s trials and coming out stronger than before. That’s the best part!
2. Marriage wont make you happy. I’m glad that even before I gave up on getting married I had already made up my mind to be content as a single person. Sure, I still wanted to get married, but it wasn’t the basis of my fulfillment in life. No, marriage wont make you happy. You can be happily married, but your joy must come from a much better and deeper source!
That’s not to say that marriage isn’t a joy. It is. But it’s a joy when two people who have found their fulfillment in Christ bring that joy to their marriage. Seeking happiness in anything else will only leave you disillusioned.
3. Marriage wont take away your loneliness. Many women make the mistake of believing that the remedy for loneliness is marriage. But men and women are completely different. I quickly learned that my husband didn’t want to hear me talk about shoes or clothes, or movies or anything that my girlfriends found interesting to talk about.
I’ve known several women who abandoned their friendships when they started dating, only to find themselves extremely lonely after they settled into married life. Girls, you need friends. Before and after you marry! Invest in deep, quality friendships. Because God made us for relationship – and not only just for the marriage relationship!
4. Submission doesn’t look the same in every marriage. I think this is why we don’t see a “submission formula” in Scripture. Yes, we are told to submit, but how that plays out in each home will vary. Some husbands need their wives to take charge of a lot of the decisions in the home, while other husbands want to have a lot more control.
My husband wants me to nag him to get things done. It took me a long time to catch on to that. I was careful not to nag or give him a “honey-do” list; but after a long conversation one day he looked me in the eye and said, “Nag me. Nag me every day if you have to until I get it done. It wont bother me. I promise!”
5. Your husband can’t read your mind. It would be so nice if our husbands could sense that we’re frustrated, exhausted, discouraged, lonely, or just need a hug. But guys weren’t wired to read signals. That intimidates and confuses them.
This is actually the source of about 75% of our arguments. I silently run myself to exhaustion and never ask for help. I expect him to see how frazzled I am, but he is waiting for me to communicate. In the end, I’m exhausted and angry and he’s frustrated because I didn’t communicate. I’m learning to communicate my needs, because he can’t read my mind, but he really does want to help!
6. Speak early. I’m a stuffer. This is not an admirable trait. It’s worse when you consider that I’m also sensitive. Shortly after we began dating my husband approached me after we had experienced our first fight. He had said something I thought was insensitive and I couldn’t get past it. But I also wouldn’t talk about it. He asked me then to speak early, before I stuffed it and ruminated on it and allowed it to grow inside.
I’ve learned that speaking early, while I still have a cool head, is a lot better than letting it fester inside until I explode.
7. Marriage doesn’t have a Bill of Rights. We’ve all grown up with a healthy understanding of what our rights are: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But marriage isn’t about rights. It’s about laying down our lives. I wrote more about surrendering our rights here.
8 Read. Read, read, read, read, read. Wouldn’t it be great if marriage came naturally? We naturally understood how each other ticked? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could start marriage with a blank slate, no baggage, no triggers, no filters? But that’s not real life.
That’s where some really amazing books come in to help reveal our blind spots, give us tips for making marriage work, and insights into how we work vs. how men work. Here are 5 books that have helped bring my marriage from good to great!