This is something that has been on my heart and mind really since before James and I were married and when I read this article that Natalie Brenner wrote on her blog it really encouraged me because I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt this way and thought this was really possible.
People like to give you a lot of advice when you start dating someone, and it only gets worse once you are engaged. You realize it’s just because they care for you and want you to have the most successful marriage as possible, but not all the advice you receive should be tucked away for remembering. The thing I wish I had never let settle into my mind was, “Your first year is going to be REALLY hard” or “You are going to have a lot of issues your first year of marriage.” I’ve even heard people say, “Your first year is going to suck.”
Anytime I would hear those words come out of someones mouth there was something in me that wanted to respond like a rebellious teenager; “You don’t know anything about my life! Leave me alone!” but of course I didn’t, because I wanted to believe that what they said was valid and would help me down the road. Big mistake.
The first couple of months were amazing (as everyone said they would be). We were still in shock that we were actually married, that our wedding was really over, that we indeed lived in the same home, together, and shared a bed! There were so many moments (and still are) where we would just look at each other and say, “Hey, we’re married.” just so it might sink in a little bit more.
At three months, James almost died. He was in a car accident and was hospitalized for three days. He spent the next two months out of work, laying on a recliner, in a neck brace and crutches. Everyone said, “If you can make it through this, you can make it through anything.” I would think to myself, “bring it on” because those two months were the best thing that could ever have happened to our marriage. It pushed us closer than I thought was possible and made me love him more than I thought I was capable. It brought us to a whole new level in our marriage that might have taken a few years to get to had it not happened. Am I thankful that he had to endure extreme pain and fear and wear an unflattering neck brace for three months? No. But am I grateful that God makes all things work together for our good? Yes.
Near the end of his recovery when life was starting to get back to normal we would ask ourselves, “Ok, when does this get hard?”. There were a few times we would be in an argument and one of us would say, “Well this was bound to happen at some point.” Those words began to make me feel sick because I knew I was only trying to justify my selfishness and the whole idea had been planted in my head by other people! The “advice” they had given me only became my excuse to be stubborn. It didn’t show me how to make the situation better.
Don’t let anyone tell you what your marriage will or won’t be like, instead let them tell you how to be more selfless. Let them teach you ways to serve and love your spouse. The seed that should be planted in your head the moment you begin a relationship with someone is that it’s not about you anymore. People seem to wait to give that advice until you have kids but it is just, if not more, important to begin practicing and living out that mindset as soon as you begin a relationship with someone.
It’s definitely not easy learning to adjust to married life. I went straight from living with my parents (having my mom cook dinner every night, schedule my dentist appointments for me, and buy my shampoo) to having to do all those things myself and more on top of taking care of my broken husband. But I will never say to someone their first year is going to suck. Instead, I will tell them to let their husband have a night to himself or hang out with the guys, to have “no-electronics-allowed” dates and build a fort in the living room and talk about your future together, that when there is tension between you, don’t walk away and let it become a bigger fight than it needs to be, or to clean up his mess for him even though it drives you nuts. If you think of something that would bless your husband, do it, and do it without hesitation. That is what we should be telling young couples and newlyweds.
Like I mentioned before, I didn’t know I wasn’t alone in this thinking. I figured I had to be wrong since I was just a naive newlywed. I would love to hear from others who loved their first year of marriage! What kinds of ways would you tell someone they could bless their spouse?
Leave a comment here or on facebook! 🙂
Photos by Renascent Photography