In just a few days, my husband John and I will be celebrating our 10 year marriage anniversary!
It seems so short and yet sooooo long at the same time. We’ve been with each other through some of our most formative years- and have together experienced the most significant moments of each other’s lives. We’ve walked with one another through some incredible highs, and through some difficult lows. We’ve changed, grown, matured, fallen, failed, conquered, succeeded and have learned so many things together. Yet the greatest lesson we’ve learned, is that there is so much still left for us to learn.
As we’ve been reflecting over the past decade of our marriage including changing careers, moving 4 times, and having 3 children, we had to chuckle at some of the lessons we’ve learned the hard (and sometimes awkward) way. There are so many things about marriage that we had no clue about while we were single. Here are some things we wish we would have known about marriage…but by God’s grace, we’re learning along the way:
Attraction grows. In the next decade you’ll both put on weight, acquire grey hairs, and welcome the world of post-marriage (likely even post-baby) body. But don’t fret. Because even as your body fades, your desire for one another can continue to grow brighter and brighter. Be sure to keep fanning that flame…because genuine attraction is made up of so much more than just the physical.
Conflict is a healthy part of marriage. It’s important to learn how to fight fair, to express your feelings in a constructive way, and to learn how to forgive often. Conflict breeds communication, and communication can breed heightened intimacy. So take advantage and fight well.
Your sex life takes up a small fraction of your relationship. But it’s a really important fraction because it has the power to connect you emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. So protect it while you’re single, and then learn to make the most of it in marriage.
Your spouse’s family will likely have a huge influence on your life and marriage– so know what you’re getting into because who you choose to do life with can bring barriers or blessings.
Contrary to what the movies say, you will NOT sleep romantically intertwined and interlocked with your spouse all night long, so do yourself a favor by investing in a large, comfy bed and getting a good night’s rest! People tend to argue less when they’re well rested 🙂
Believe it or not, research shows that the longer you’ve been married the less time you actually talk. Make communication important by scheduling time to just sit and talk.
Unlike in soap operas and movies, marital sex takes work, practice, selflessness, and a whole lot of patience to perfect. Don’t expect to get it right away, but know that you will in time. Let go of the pressure to be perfect and just enjoy the practice!
No matter who you marry, someday you will probably wonder if you’ve married the “right person”. Be assured- you have (from the moment you said “I do”). So do whatever it takes to fight for what you have and to turn it into something beautiful.
True love between two people has very little to do with how you feel, and so much to do with what you do thereafter. Learn the actions of love, and practice them often (aka every moment, of every day). Always choose to protect your marriage.
No matter what conflict you are facing, 100% of the time you have a responsibility in it. Learn to take ownership of your own flaws right here, and right now, long before you point the finger. It will always work out better in the end.
Most of marriage is made up of the monotony of day-to-day routine. So marry more than just a lover. Marry a best friend, a partner, a co-worker, and a true companion.
Opposites do attract, but then they have the tendency to attack. Learn to work through your differences and always appreciate the beauty of your spouses uniqueness. It’s likely what drew you together in the first place.
Your past has a huge impact on your present relationships, so learn to look inward. Working through your past wounds has the ability to bring so much healing to the here and now. Take the time to take care of your self.
Marriage can’t bring you purpose, healing, or security– but it can bless you, challenge you, and enrich your life in so many ways. Keep your expectations grounded in reality. You’ve been given a spouse, not a super-hero, a help-mate, not a healer.
Your relationship with God has the power to bring you closer to one another in powerful ways. Learn to love out of the overflow of God’s love for you. It will likely change your life, and in turn, your marriage.
Here’s to the next decade with my beloved. May God continue teaching us, shaping us, and drawing us closer to each other with each passing day and through each coming lesson.
And here’s to all of you, whether married or single: May God continue shifting your expectations of marriage and relationships to become more and more in tune with His.
Comment below: What have been the most surprising lessons you’ve learned about marriage along the way?
A version of this post originally appeared on True Love Dates on June 8, 2017. Used by permission.
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Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, 21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, and 21 Days to Pray For Your Love Life – where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!