When you imagine starting a life with your future hubby, what mainly comes to mind? Are you excited about the new adventure or does it cause you anxiety because you have no idea what you’re in for?
There have been several comments on my previous articles about dating and marriage, and some of you have admitted that the thought of having a romantic relationship paralyzes you with fear. I’m a firm believer that with knowledge comes a bit more confidence. If you know what’s lying ahead, you can better prepare yourself mentally for a huge life shift. This is true for a career change, big move, new relationship or even having kids.
If I told you my newlywed phase was all roses and sunshine, I’d be lying. For some, it may be full of bliss, but usually these are years full of confusion as you learn to adapt to a life that’s not just your own anymore. I’m about to celebrate my eighth wedding anniversary, and as I look back on the first couple of years, there are things I wish I knew to look out for when I imagined my life as a wife. That’s why I wanted to break down a few areas of my marriage that may give you some insight on the newlywed stage.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (James 1:19)
Communication expectations. While you’re dating, you may be presenting your best side most of the time because you have a break to think about things and come back with a fresh perspective after a few days. My husband and I dated long-distance, so we wrote pages of emails. We even had overage charges on our cell phone bills because of the amount of texts and phone calls going back and forth each day. I thought we were expert communicators and that arguments would be few and far between…and then we got married and moved in together.
Communication reality. Whether you’re long-distance dating or not, unless you both have individually matured in processing emotions, learned to empathize and can truly listen before offering a retort, there can be many days of going to bed angry and giving the cold shoulder. I thought my husband was a mind reader and should automatically know how his words affected me. It wasn’t until many long-winded conversations later that we were able to break down certain trigger words or the difference in how we were raised to communicate. It took years before we got to a place of building our own healthy communication dynamic, and a lot of that was through prayer and trying different communication styles to see if they worked.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
Financial expectations. Your two worlds will become one, and so will your finances. It should be easy to figure out which account your bills are being paid from, how much to put in your joint savings as well as what type of lifestyle you want to have. Before we even got married, there were conversations we had about my husband being the main provider with no pressure on me as I started a new career in a new state. We figured that we would be able to buy a house and live a “comfortable life.” We didn’t take into consideration college debt, taxes and the curveballs life throws at you.
Financial reality. The recession hit around the same time we got married and all of a sudden the economy was unstable. Just a few months after we were Mr. and Mrs., my husband got laid off while we were in the middle of house shopping. Immediately, there was pressure to figure out how we were going to make our new life work. Even if you’re dealing with a stable job and plenty of funds, there are still variables that come up and rock your financial world. Perhaps you can never agree on the salary your husband should have or the neighborhood you can afford, or one of you gets sick or hurt and can’t work for a while. This is why we trust in God alone. If we could prepare for anything that could possibly go wrong, there would be no need for faith and leaning on God for direction. We learned that the hard way and wish we knew then what we’ve learned over the years.
The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:4)
Intimacy expectations. How many of you think about date nights, romantic vacations and having someone to sit on the couch in pajamas with and watch movies together? When we were dating, my now-husband was very romantic and we always showed each other a great time when we visited each other’s state. There were plenty of poetic letters and texts, and we even accidentally fell asleep on the phone several times because of the time difference between California and Hawaii. I thought our intimacy would be a no-brainer and we would always be in tune with each other.
Intimacy reality. Flash-forward to me leaving the life I knew behind and joining his. It was back to reality for him, going to the job he was used to and seeing friends he grew up with. Usually, with women, our state of mind has a lot to do with how vulnerable we can be with someone. As I was resenting him for having a normal life, it was hard for me to be completely open and loving when we were together. Even if you didn’t change time zones to be with your spouse, starting a life together can consume your thoughts and you may not be on the same page many times with coming together in a romantic way. There was a key moment where we had to sit down and talk about what we could do to make the other person feel loved and make sure they weren’t being taken for granted or starved for attention.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
Quality time expectations. At my core, I’m a true homebody. I don’t need a ton of friends or activities to make me pumped. So far, there’s only been one season in my life, during college, when I really stepped out of my comfort zone, made new friends and joined a handful of groups to get to know what I was really passionate about and who I liked being around. Falling into the art scene is what led me to my husband. I felt that with so much in common as creative types, we could be each other’s everything and have a ton of fun as a duo. You may be thinking, “When I get married, I’m never leaving the house because I’m marrying my best friend” or “We’re going to paint the town red because I love being social.” Unless you bring it up in conversation while you’re dating, you both could be in for a rude awakening.
Quality time reality. It took a while for me to adjust to my husband’s on-the-go lifestyle. I thought we’d have so much more time together, but we had never discussed it ahead of time. Both of us assumed that we would automatically fall into a rhythm. This resulted in me feeling like I was dragged into friendships and social commitments that I didn’t want to be involved in, and my husband feeling unsupported when I didn’t want to go out with him and his friends. Currently, we take a close look at what God calls to be a priority, and anything that we can add on top of that in a healthy way, we’ll do. Simplifying our commitments is something I’m so glad we’ve agreed to do over time, but it definitely wasn’t on our radar as newlyweds.
With all this said, keep in mind that marriage is an opportunity to grow together. It’s pretty impossible to have it all figured out beforehand, but I promise the Lord is with you and will help you through it every step of the way. Even in the toughest valleys, I was still glad to be married to my husband that God blessed me with.
We’d love to hear your stories! If you’re married, how did your marriage measure up—for good or for bad—in your first couple of years? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.