I always dreamed of getting married. I never had any specific career focus or aspiration; instead, I simply dreamed of the day when I would become a wife (and then a mom, too!).
Fast forward to today: While I do absolutely love being married, I look back on my years as a child and a teen and think, I didn’t fully understand what marriage was really going to be like. I quite clearly had a fairy-tale picture in my mind back then of what my husband would be like, what he would and would not do, and how I would act in response. But what I am finding is this: When one sinner marries another sinner, things just aren’t quite as simple as we think they are when we’re kids!
With that in mind, here are four things I wish I had known before I got married.
1. If you aren’t content before you’re married, you won’t be content after you’re married.
I used to think that because I yearned to be married and have the love of a wonderful man and godly partner for life, I’d be perfectly content once that phase of my life did come. But I was wrong. I was putting my source of fulfillment in the wrong place. As wonderful as my husband is (and he is great!), there are still moments when I grow discontent over one thing or another in our marriage. What I am learning is that contentment is a matter of the heart, not my circumstances. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13 that he had learned how to go through both the bad times as well as the good times, and to be strong and content in the midst of them all. Just a few verses before that, in the very same chapter, he taught about the importance of rejoicing in the Lord. That is where true contentment comes from: in remembering God’s goodness!
2. A husband is not meant to complete you.
This somewhat goes back to the contentment issue again, but I also held to the mistaken idea that when I got married, my husband would complete me. That’s not how it’s meant to be. Only God can truly complete and fulfill us in the ways we long for. A passage I like to turn to when I need to remember this and take undue pressure off my husband is Psalm 107:8-9 (you may find it helpful, too, for taking undue pressure off your boyfriend or your desire for a relationship): “He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” Other passages that are helpful in this area are Psalm 63:1-5 and Psalm 90:14.
3. Marriage is not at all like the media says.
Those first two points may have felt a little sobering, so let’s talk about some encouraging truths about marriage! First of all, it’s nothing like what most sitcoms portray. Men are not all bumbling idiots who refuse to lift a finger to help around the house, lack basic etiquette skills, do nothing but sit on the couch and watch TV, and act like overgrown children. So take heart! There are still great guys out there, I promise! My husband views what goes on in and around our home as being just as much his responsibility as it is mine, because we are raising this family and cultivating this home together as partners in this life mission. And that is a beautiful thing!
4. The hard times will come, but so much growth will come, too.
Before I got married, I would have said that I knew there would be hard seasons even in my marriage, but I don’t think I truly grasped that. I had stars in my eyes that blinded me just a bit to the reality that I was a sinner marrying a fellow sinner in a fallen world. Have there been challenging seasons in my now-four years of marriage? Yes. My husband and I have gotten annoyed and disappointed with each other, and have faced questions and a few trials. But I can honestly tell you, sweet friend, that I am so thankful for how the Lord has redeemed those times. Romans 5:1-5 and Romans 8:28 show us just how gracious God is to bring so much growth of character, hope and goodness out of the hard times.
So, will there be hard times in any marriage? Yes, there will be—just as in any other relationship or life season. But they will be so worth it!