FIVE THINGS I’VE LEARNED IN MY FIRST YEAR OF MARRIAGE
One year ago, with sweaty palms (and nose) and a racing pulse, I stared deeply into the eyes of the woman I love and vowed before God and all our friends and family to love her for the rest of my life. I promised her that I would be the best husband I could possibly be, even though at that time I did not fully understand what that actually looked like.
I grew up in an excellent home where I got to see a healthy marriage play out in front of me every single day. Although it was far from perfect, my parents intentionally modeled a biblical example of marriage for both my brother and me. In fact, I can remember from a very young age some of the most powerful words that my father ever said to us: “If I only teach you boys one thing in my life, it’ll be how to love a woman.”
With that example taking place in front of my eyes for more than two and a half decades, I believed I had a pretty good grasp of what to expect from marriage. In addition, my wife’s parents had done the exact same thing for her.
During the time of our engagement, I took all the necessary steps to prepare for my life to come. I read (literally) dozens of books on marriage. I received premarital counseling. I sought wisdom from many pastors and godly couples, both those who had been married for most of their lives and from those who were in the early stages of marriage themselves. I prayed often. I read Scripture. I asked questions. I sought answers.
And so I walked into marriage tentatively expecting to have most of it figured out.
And in some ways, I was not truly surprised by anything in our first year. I had prepared well. More importantly, I had been prepared well by others.
But there is absolutely a difference between “knowing” something based on what someone tells you and truly knowing something based on your own experience. And in my first year of marriage, there are a number of things that I have come to truly know.
- Marriage Doesn’t Fix Anything
This was one of the most sobering lessons I have come to learn. I was told this truth repeatedly by those who have walked the marriage paths before me, but deep down I somehow expected being married to suddenly fix any number of issues that may have existed prior to our wedding day. But of course, Chloe is not my Savior. She can’t solve my sin problem. So all the sin I carried into that chapel was still there the next day. And that sin continues to be there even in marriage. It doesn’t just go away with the magical words of “I do.”
- Marriage Exposes Your Sin
Marriage doesn’t fix anything. In fact, the opposite is true – marriage exposes things. Most notably, marriage exposes sin. As time has gone on, my sinful tendencies have become even more abundantly clear. Issues that only showed up occasionally are now on full display on a regular basis. Whatever image my wife had of me as her knight in shining armor who would ride in and save the day has surely been shattered by now. She has seen the sinful state of my heart more closely than anyone else.
- Marriage Is Hard
Here is the greatest understatement that has ever been made regarding marriage. But there is real truth in it. Marriage is there day in and day out. There are no off days. When things are going well and life is good, my wife is there by my side. And when I get tired or stressed or annoyed and life throws more than I can handle right at me, my wife is there by my side. It doesn’t go away, and a biblical marriage bond is meant to last a lifetime. Even more importantly, the spiritual reality of marriage is extremely weighty. As the leader of our household, my spiritual walk has a direct and noticeable impact on hers. Everything is magnified in marriage. It’s burdensome. And it is challenging.
- Marriage Is Fun
For all the (necessary) admonitions and counsel about the seriousness and sacredness of the marriage bond, I have also come to learn that marriage is extremely fun. Sure, some days are better than others. But all in all, I’m having a blast. I spend most of my time with my best friend on the planet. We do everything together, and are intentional about it. No one can make me smile and get me excited about the simplest things like she can. We have inside jokes that only we share. And every single night I fall asleep with her by my side. Life is just more fun with her.
- Marriage Is The Greatest Gift a Man Can Receive
Apart from the grace of salvation, there is nothing I value or treasure more than my wife. She has taught me an innumerable amount of things about life and grace and love. And as cliché as it may seem, I simply cannot imagine my life without her. But there is something deeper now that we are married that goes beyond words. She has blessed my life in more ways than I am even aware. And I treasure every moment I get to spend with her. Because on this earth, she is by far my greatest gift.
I’ve been married for a whole year now. I know I’m no expert, but I have learned a tremendous amount during these past 12 months. And of course, in no way do I suspect that I have come to know everything that there is to understand about marriage. But I am thankful that God has allowed me to learn these things with the woman I am incredibly fortunate enough to call my wife. And I look forward to the many lessons I will learn as we continue on this journey in the years to come.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. – Proverbs 18:22