5 Lessons from My (Almost) First Year of Marriage

Happy late Valentine’s Day, readers! I hope your day was full of chocolate and candy hearts,but most importantly, that you felt loved. 

As the day of love has come and gone, it’s got me reflective on relationships. This Valentine’s Day was the first that I celebrated as a wife, and February 8 marked eight months of marriage for me. Josh and I are almost to one year! Has marriage been wonderful? Yes. Has it been easy? No. But I am definitely a better version of myself than I was before June 8, 2019. In case you were curious, here are five of the most important lessons marriage has taught me. 

#1: Follow Jesus’s Example.

Before Josh and I walked down the aisle, we were taught that marriage is meant to be a model of Christ and his church. The husband portrays Christ, loving his bride no matter the cost. The wife portrays the church, respecting her groom. That made sense to me. I knew that marriage required the kind of selfless love that Jesus modeled during his earthly ministry. That made sense, too. So I thought I understood marriage. But understanding something in theory and living it out are two different things.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to look to Jesus’s example daily in your marriage. Selfishness is easy. Pride, unforgiveness, and unkindness feel natural. Without Christ’s example, they even seem right. But all of those things will wreck your most important earthly relationship when left unchecked. The only way to kick those sins and be a good spouse is to look to Christ for strength. 

#2: Be Humble– You’re Not Always Right. 

As similar as Josh and I are, we have our differences. I’m always in a hurry, and attack tasks ASAP. Josh prefers to take his time and can be a procrastinator. I stress about money even when we have it, while Josh stays calm and steady when we don’t. But there’s one thing we have in common: we both usually think we’re right. 

Marriage has challenged many of my assumptions about life and how to live it. At first, the differences I mentioned above led to most of our arguments. The time would come to make a decision together, and I would have one idea and he would have another. Many of those times, I felt God impressing upon me to let Josh lead– God called him to, after all. And guess what? Most of those times, Josh’s idea ended up being the right call. I share this not to say that Josh is always right (lest he get a big head), but to say that just because you’ve always done things a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the only way. Becoming one means compromise and trying new things, and sometimes discomfort. Approach it with humility and you’ll be amazed at the blessings in store. 

#3: Choose Kind Words.

No one is in a pleasant mood 100% of the time. I’m certainly not. Before I’ve had my morning quiet time and coffee, it’s not wise to try holding a conversation with me. Unfortunately, Josh learned that quickly. When you’re married to someone, and therefore with them almost 24/7, it’s easy to let them bear the brunt of our worst moods. They’re not going to leave, so why not just open my mouth and let it fly?

The problem is, no one likes to be snapped at. Words are powerful; the Bible says they hold the power of life and death. So why not instead speak life to the person you love most in the world? Choosing kind words sets a couple up for a more loving relationship and a happier future. 

#4: Waiting Was the Right Choice.

I’m going to get uncomfortably personal for a minute. While I wasn’t perfect in my dating life, I did follow the biblical mandate of saving sex for marriage. I took crap for it from friends in high school– they thought it was an outdated, restrictive worldview. Even boyfriends who claimed to be Christians sometimes struggled with that choice.  And I’d be lying if I said there was never temptation.

But ultimately, it was worth it. Sex within marriage is a blessing created by God. Two people who have made a covenant with one another for life can enjoy it without fear of shame or regret. It’s a picture of Christ finally uniting with his church. By not giving into the pressure coming from all sides as a single woman, I saved myself a lot of heartache and gave my marriage an incredible gift. So single readers, if you’ve resolved to wait, press on. The view at the end is worth it. If you’ve already had premarital sex, choose to start waiting now; there is nothing that the blood of Christ cannot redeem.

#5: Be Patient– It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint.

I’ve heard that the first year of marriage is the hardest. I’m not sure if that’s true; I’m still in the first year, so I have no frame of reference. It does, though, present unique challenges. You get to know the person you married more deeply than was possible before marriage. You learn their habits, their secrets, and their flaws. There’s nowhere for them, or you, to hide. 

There’s a definite learning curve attached to the early days of marriage. As someone who usually picks things up quickly, I’ve learned that that’s okay. You will never be the perfect spouse, and you won’t even become a great one overnight. Luckily you have the rest of your life to do it. Be okay with the learning process, whatever it looks like. It isn’t easy, but it’s certainly worth it.

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