Yesterday, Hans and I passed the six month marriage mark. Which is a little like:
If I've learned anything in the last six months, it's this: I don't know anything. So, really, this whole post kind of like a toddler claiming that they know how to do ballet. I don't know what I'm doing. At all. If you're newly married, feel free to take my second piece of advice and then phone a friend. If you've been married for a while, feel free to laugh at me.
I'm writing this because I want to be honest. Another thing I've learned in the past six months? Marriage isn't perfect. I get frustrated with people who parade that their marriage is perfectly shiny and wonderful all the time. Humans are sinners. A sinner + a sinner does not = sunshine and daisies forever. A sinner + a sinner = more sin. So, let's get over the Pinterest-perfect image we have of marriage and have an honest conversation instead. I'll go first.
I've established that I have absolutely no marital wisdom whatsoever. Ok? Ok. Here we go.
1. You need Jesus. This is the most important thing I can possibly tell you. This is a mistake that I made during the first several months of our marriage, and it hurt us greatly. I tried to get all my emotional satisfaction from Hans, all of my encouragement, all of my fulfillment and purpose. In short, I made Hans my savior. Let me tell you...my husband is a remarkable man. But he was not made to endure that kind of pressure. When I put it on him, he grows weary of feeling like he doesn't measure up and that he can't make me happy. We turn real miserable real quick. When I seek Christ first, things go a lot better.
You need Jesus because you're a sinner in need of a Savior. You also need Jesus because you need His grace to show your spouse grace. You need Him to clean out your selfishness in order to show your spouse selflessness. You need His forgiveness to forgive your spouse. You need His strength to keep those crazy promises you made on your wedding day. You need His peace to sustain your marriage through the desert places.
2. You need help. Whether that's an older couple to mentor you, a Sunday School or Bible study group for newly marrieds, an abundance of relationship books and sermons, a marriage counselor, the guidance of a pastor, or even admitting that you need a psychiatrist and antidepressants...you need help. Seek it out.
3. Fun things (date nights, getaways, etc.) won't happen unless you make them. Be intentional to keep dating after the wedding day. Make a plan for regular date nights - for us, it's Wednesdays - and stick to it. Protect it on your schedule and get creative! Check out Rachel's list of Go To Date Nights.
Plan fun getaways and trips. Even if it's just a day trip to the neighboring town, take adventures together. Camping is a great way to travel without spending a ton of money on lodging. Hans and I are meeting friends in Galveston for Spring break, and we're splitting the $15-a-night campsite fee...because we're all newlyweds and we're poor.
4. Fighting is normal. ...which is something I didn't know. My parents can count on one hand the times they've fought in nearly thirty years of marriage (I love my parents dearly, but their marriage is a fantastically unrealistic example because they're as rare as unicorns) and I can count on one hand the number of times Hans and I fought in our first week of marriage.
Hear me. You'll have misunderstandings. You will get frustrated. You'll epically fail at communication. You'll get your feelings hurt. You'll reflect the love of Christ about as well as a brick. You'll be selfish, angry, ungodly, and maybe even bitter. It's normal. You don't want fighting to be your "normal", but fighting in and of itself is normal.*
As long as you work towards a resolution quickly, these things will not be the end of the world. Communicate through the fight and make up afterwards. Learn from your fights so you can nip them in the bud. Remember that, even if it doesn't seem like it at the time, your spouse is a good willed person and they do love you.
*There is a difference between normal marital fighting and an abusive relationship. If you think your marriage has crossed that line, refer to #2. Get help.
5. Sex requires talking. Mark Driscoll says, "Our Christian culture teaches people that sex is gross, dirty, and disgusting...so save it for the one you love." On your way down the aisle, sex is something to be avoided like the plague. On your way back up the aisle? All holds are off, baby! It's a quick switch, you've probably never done this before (we hadn't, maybe you have. I'm not going to judge you because I'm a sinner too...welcome to the club), it's unlike anything you've ever experienced before, it's takes a great deal of vulnerability and trust, and it takes some time to figure things out. It's also terrific fun. Talk about it.
Books from people that are way smarter than me:
What have/did you learn in your first six months of marriage?