As my wife’s youngest sister is getting married this weekend, it makes me think back to all the things I’ve learned about marriage over the last 10 years. I thought I’d share 5 secrets of marriage no one talks about:
1. They never go away. Shortly after my wife and I first go married I have this specific memory of coming home from Starbucks to our one bedroom apartment and there was my loving wife, waiting for me. Because we had recently moved into the area, she was looking for a job and we were still looking for a social life. I was exhausted after work and remember having this distinct feeling that I had no where to go in our small apartment where I could truly be alone. So I asked, “Um, do you have anywhere you need to…..go? Any errands you need to run?” My wife was quite offended by this question and replied, “Somewhere to go? I live here and right now you’re my only friend.” It definitely takes a while to get used to being married. It’s a transition and that’s ok. It’s one thing to have a roommate, it’s another to have a roommate that sleeps with you, eats with you, and is there in every single part of your life. It’s a joy, but it takes some getting used to!
2. Children ruin everything. Ok, so I don’t actually mean this. Children are the most amazing thing ever! I have 3 boys and my life would be absolutely boring without them. Kids bring joy wherever they go. But, as you begin marriage, you have no idea how truly free you are.
I remember being in a hotel room with our one year old and hearing him scream most of the night as I fell in and out of a semi-conscious, semi-sleep state. My wife and I were pretty much used to not sleeping by that point, but that night we had to navigate who’s turn it was to hold the baby while both of us were mostly asleep. Surprisingly, we found out that we’re not the most logical or gracious half-asleep conversationalists. Around 4 am I ended up driving the baby around in the car while my wife kept us from driving off the road. Once you have kids, you can’t go back to the way it was before. So, my one encouragement is to live it up and savor every moment. Here are a few examples of moments you should stop and savor right now:
- Arguing over what to make for dinner at 6:30 pm and deciding to go out to eat. Awesome.
- Going to see a movie together on a whim.
- Going to the grocery store, or clothes shopping, or anywhere together
- Basically any spontaneous action or decision you make
- Anything that happens in your life after 7:00 pm
- Sleeping in past 7:00 am
The next phase of your life (with children) is also amazing, but don’t miss the time, however brief it may be, you have without children. Enjoy these moments!
3. You’re wrong. I believe one of the most important reasons God created marriage was to remind us on a daily basis that we’re not perfect and in desperate need of a savior. I began our marriage with the amazing ability to turn any wrong-doing on my part back on its head and somehow make it my wife’s fault. If I was late for dinner because I forgot, I could say it was because she forgot to remind me. This worked fairly well for me until one particular day. My wife was sharing a frustration she had about me and as I began to somehow make it her fault, she got mad (I can’t imagine why?) and blurted out, “WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BE WRONG!” In that moment I realized what I was doing and felt really bad about it. There is nothing harder in marriage than being wrong! But, vulnerability and being wrong are two of the biggest keys to a healthy marriage. The sooner you develop your ability to be wrong and believe the following facts, the sooner you’ll develop a healthy marriage:
- You’re not as right as you think you are
- There are other ways of doing things and they’re just as good as yours
- People think differently than you and that’s ok
- If you’re frustrated at your spouse for doing one thing wrong, they’re probably mad at you for three
- They’re right, stop trying to justify it, just be wrong!
There are things that will annoy you that you didn’t know annoy you until you live with someone. I never knew I cared so much about keeping the cap on toothpaste until I lived with someone who sometimes forgot to put it back on. My wife never knew it annoyed her when someone half does a project or half puts things away until she lived with an expert. The longer you live with someone the more clear and specific you are with the things that drive you crazy. But, if you’re not careful, the mountains you’re ready to die on in marriage quickly become a fortress to hide behind and lob grenades from. It’s amazing how easily our spouse becomes the enemy.
I can’t tell you how many times in our marriage my wife and I have had to remind each other that we’re on the same team. When navigating an argument we’ve often concluded by affirming that we want to be on the same team. Sometimes, in the heat of an argument we may not “feel” like we’re on the same team, but we say it because we know it’s true. There are enough battles to fight in the world without beginning one with your greatest ally in arms. Because of our pride, it’s so easy to slip into making our spouse the enemy. But, remember it’s not you against the world anymore. You now have a teammate. It’s now you, and your spouse versus the world!
5. Enjoy Each Other. To sum it up, I would encourage any new marriage to enjoy each other and enjoy your transition into marriage. It’s an amazing journey and it only gets better with time. I definitely love and appreciate my wife more today than I did when we first got married. I believe she’s a stronger, more beautiful person today than when we first began our journey together. I’m definitely a much more bald person than when we first met, but I also hope I have a few less rough edges. My wife has often been a huge tool God has used to chip off the troubled spots in my life, most of which I was blind to until she brought them to my attention (not always fun). If you’re about to get married, or just got married, more than anything, I would encourage you to enjoy these moments.