The ring is on your finger, the much-needed honeymoon is over, and you’re all moved into your new place. You and your spouse are living on cloud nine, anticipating what this new adventure will bring and all the places you will go. Maybe you have changed your last name, and this just feels like a brand-new start for you both. You are a newlywed and, in your mind, completely untouchable. After all, you have the perfect marriage. Other people may have problems, but you cannot possibly imagine any that would disrupt your pure wedded bliss…until time starts to pass, and you realize that you may be your own worst enemy.
Maybe that is just me. Maybe I am the only one who went into marriage with this grand picture of what life would be like, a house, some kids, definitely a picket fence. Well, long story short, my husband and I divorced and then remarried. (That’s a great story for another day.) But now that I’ve been a newlywed twice, there are some things I wish I could go back and tell my 21-year-old self.
1. You don’t have to look like her. Ladies, this is geared towards you, but it applies just as much to the guys. You have your own set of gifts that God equipped you with for your marriage. Trying to live in a pair of shoes that aren’t your size will only lead to blisters. Take them off, wear what you’ve got and work hard in what you’ve been given. I was so guilty of a “trying to be her” mindset. The “her” in my life was my mother-in-law, which brought about a whole different set of challenges.
She cooked my husband his very own pot of everything she made just so he did not have to eat onions. She serves my father-in-law first and always even if it means neglecting her own needs. Her house is decorated like the ones you see in Southern Living, her lawn consistently wins yard of the month, and you will never see her not put together. Onions are like my favorite food group, I can’t keep flowers alive, and I firmly believe yoga pants are acceptable to wear every single day.
When I entered our marriage believing that I needed to be like her in order to be a good wife, I was ultimately telling God that the woman He had created me to be just wasn’t going to cut it and I would rather take it upon myself to copy the efforts of others. Epic fail. Dear Newlywed self, you do not need to be anyone but yourself in your marriage. Authentic transparency with your spouse develops an intimacy that can’t be copied! That’s the good stuff marriage is made of.
The devil really does hate marriage. I still laugh at this one because of how naïve I truly was. When we were preparing for marriage, we had a young couple from church mentor us. They highly recommended a book called Love and War. Being the good Sunday school girl I was, I bought it and read it. While I did enjoy the reading, I can’t lie and say I didn’t scoff it off as a little too intense and over the top. The idea that there was spiritual warfare going on all around me and in opposition of my marriage just seemed too extreme. I doubted the premise that the devil would use all of my past experiences, combined with doubt and fear, to disconnect me from my husband. I had no idea that my own insecurities might be the very fuel he poured on the fire to set us ablaze against one another. And I sure didn’t believe that when we were working together for the Kingdom he would attack even harder. Dear Newlywed self, the devil hates marriage and he wants you to hate yours too!
Date your spouse. I don’t mean go out to dinner with a bunch of friends once a month and call it a date. I mean even when finances are tight and there are no openings in your schedule, that the two of you commit to connecting. Maybe it’s an afternoon spent in a coffee shop or homemade dinner at your table while your kids are having movies and popcorn on the living room floor. Whatever brings the two of you together, go and do it. The money and the time are both worth it. Dear Newlywed self, your spouse is worth the extra effort.
Your friends matter. I worked in an environment where everyone was getting a divorce or bashing their husband. I had friends who would call or text me weekly telling me the 5,842 things their husband had done wrong since yesterday, and before I knew it I was keeping a running count on Micah too. If you surround yourself with people who name call, keep secrets from, and/or constantly complain about their spouse, eventually you will too. Suddenly, all the good you once saw goes out the window and you become focused on all the ways they are failing you and your marriage. Dear Newlywed self, “complaining is draining,” and it will surely drain the gratitude from your relationship.
It’s ok to apologize first. In a world where it’s most important to be right and number one, people are not typically rushing to be the first to apologize. Resentment starts to fester, bitterness builds up and your connection surely fades. Dr. Kim touches on this often, but you should fight fair and fight for one another. When my perspective shifted from me versus him to us against the world, it was much easier for me to understand that being right doesn’t matter most. When he wins, I win; and so does our marriage. Dear Newlywed self, apologizing first doesn’t mean you’re a pushover, it means you push past your pride to show your relationship the value it deserves.
Communicate your expectations. This goes both ways. It is so important to have this conversation in your marriage. What do you expect from your spouse? In turn, what do they need from you? You may expect that the husband does all the yard work, and he may expect that you meet him after work with a hug and a kiss. Expectations may be as big as one person handles finances or as small as one person takes out the trash. I don’t know what your expectations for your spouse are, but chances are if you haven’t told them then they don’t either. Sit down and talk or make lists and exchange, but make time to communicate the expectations you are bringing into your marriage. Dear Newlywed self, you can’t meet expectations you don’t know exist.
Marriage has been both the greatest adventure and the most humbling experience of my life. To succeed you most definitely have to be more concerned with the “us” rather than the “I.” If I had known all that I do now about seeking a Godly marriage, I guarantee our story wouldn’t include divorce, but it also wouldn’t have allowed for the immense growth that has occurred not only in our spiritual lives, but also in our level of intimacy. Please don’t misunderstand me, you do not need a divorce to grow towards and with your spouse! You do need to be willing to fight for one another and for your marriage. Dear Newlywed self, you deserve an Awesome Marriage and God wants to bless you with one.
Written By Tiffany Miller
Tiffany is our Care Director and Admin for Awesome Marriage. She is a military wife and homeschool mom. She lives in Oklahoma where she enjoys time spent at the gym and adventuring outside with her family.