Being engaged is a whole lot different than actually being married. Here are 7 pieces of advice for newlyweds that I wish someone had told me!
MARRIAGE ISN’T WHAT YOU SEE IN THE MOVIES
There are pretty much two types of husbands when it comes to marriages on TV:
- The cheating spouse
- The stupid spouse
Seriously. Think about it. Why is it that every husband on TV can’t control their sexual urges or is a doofus married to an obnoxious, eye-rolling wife?
It’s so rare that we actually see a healthy relationship on TV. And if most marriages are portrayed as a place where sex goes to die, or that being in love means complete infatuation, then you don’t have a realistic view of what it’s supposed to be either.
So where are the real marriages, the ones that actually make it? The ones where the honeymoon phase has worn off, but the couple genuinely still loves and enjoys one another?
On the flip side, we also don’t need any more fairy-tale relationships where everyone lives happily ever-after. We all could use a few more examples of real-life relationships that have successfully weathered the storm.
There are so many views on what a good marriage should look like, but for this post, I want to talk about Christian marriages in general. My husband and I decided to skip pre-marital counseling, and I wish we hadn’t. While we have figured a few things out over our 20 years together, that time of mentorship could have saved us a few sleepless nights…
MY 7 PIECES OF ADVICE FOR NEWLYWEDS
If you are a newly-wed or engaged to be married, I highly suggest that you seek out pre-marital counseling before you tie the knot. There’s always room for growth whether you’ve been together 10 days or 10 years, and taking this first step will only help you along the way! The Bible is filled with helpful advice on how to love one another in a way that will sustain you for a lifetime, and a mentor who can guide you through real-life application can be such a blessing, especially before you get to the hard stuff in life!
With that being said, there are a few things that I wish I could go back and tell myself and my husband when we were engaged. I hope these tips are helpful for you (even if you’re past the newly wed stage!).
1. HONEYMOON BLUES ARE A THING
We had a beautiful wedding outside at an old manor in Virginia, and after a disastrous honeymoon, returned home to our newly-rented, roach-infested home in Texas. After all of those blissful years of dating and wedding planning, our fairy tale had officially ended.
My family was an expensive plane ride away, and our friends had graduated and moved out. I was lonely and a little panicky about the choice I had made. The parties were over, the friends were gone, and adulthood had officially kicked in. I had to get a real job and pay bills now!
After a few weeks of moping around, my poor husband asked if I was okay. He even asked if I had regretted marrying him. Of course I hadn’t, I told him, but I was confused. I felt homesick for the first time in my life. Reality of married living had set in, and it seemed our infatuation stage was over. When I confided that I felt sad most days instead of happy to a few of my other married girlfriends over the phone, what they said surprised me.
“I went through that too,” they said. “Getting married is a big change and there’s so much pressure on what it’s supposed to look like.”
Why had no one ever told me this?
Every romantic movie I’d seen ended when the two people got married. Kiss and zoom out! Happily ever after!
I began to realize, that marriage isn’t where the hard work ends, it’s where it begins! So what can you do if you find yourself in this situation?
Take all of those unrealistic expectations and confront what’s true. This is simply another transition in your life. Most of the transitions in your life have been hard. Change is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be bad. For me, hearing that I wasn’t crazy, that these feelings of insecurity were normal, was all I needed to get out of my funk.
Which leads me into tip #2:
2. LOSING THAT LOVING FEELING DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE NOT IN LOVE
Infatuation is just that. It’s not love, it’s obsession. We’ve all been there, and it’s wonderful! To wear rose-colored glasses and think everything they do is adorable and hilarious. To think that they couldn’t be anymore perfect for you…but time goes on. And those little quirks start to become major irritations.
However, when the passion dies, that doesn’t mean your marriage is over. And it doesn’t mean it won’t return.
Sometimes it means you have to work through a few things to get it back, or give it time to experience that marriage truly is a rollercoaster. So is any relationship worth pursuing!
I love my husband, and I can truly say (ignore the cliche) that I am more in love with him now that I ever was before. That’s because our love is much more experienced and deeply emotional because of the things we’ve been through. We’ve gone through parenting, the dynamics of in-laws, four moves and serious illnesses. We’ve acknowledged our flaws and confessed them to each other, but mostly, we’ve committed to this relationship for the long haul.
When you are struggling, ask God to remind you why you fell in love with your husband in the first place. He will always give you something to lean on.
3. SPEND YOUR MONEY ON MEMORIES, DON’T SAVE FOR A RAINY DAY
Before we had kids, we never went anywhere. We always felt like we didn’t have enough money to do anything. After we had kids, we really didn’t have enough money to do anything, but we needed the break and found ourselves figuring out ways to travel even on our limited budget. Think of how much nicer it would have been if we’d realized this sooner!
We could have traveled without having to worry about car seats, strollers, naptime, and moody children! While we have had many successful vacations with our kids, we missed out on a big opportunity to see things without taking care of little ones.
I highly suggest you take the trips now (and later too!) instead of waiting for the perfect timing. FYI: there is no perfect timing!
4. FIND YOURSELF—GET HOBBIES & MAKE FRIENDS OUTSIDE YOUR CIRCLE
Are you only doing the things that he wants to do? Or are you only doing fun things when he’s around? Don’t fall into the pit of becoming “the wife”, you are your own person too! That’s what he loves about you!
What hobbies have you done in the past? Get back into them, make friends with others that share those same passions. You will grow in confidence (which is very attractive) when you have your own things to pursue!
5. BELIEVE THE BEST ABOUT HIM—AND YOU ARE NOT HIS HOLY SPIRIT
Your husband is not perfect. And neither are you . So don’t forget to give him some grace. When he leaves a mess behind, or forgets to do something he promised, believe the best. Believe that he wasn’t out to hurt you, but was simply distracted.
When you feel like he’s not helping out, believe the best. Maybe he just needs you to communicate what you need instead of thinking he doesn’t care. You don’t need to nag or correct him constantly. Instead, pray for him, and learn to work together in healthy ways.
6. SCHEDULE VACATIONS AND DATE REGULARLY
Now that the “chase” is over…it really isn’t .
I made the mistake of waiting for him to take me to nice places or surprise me with a vacation. Not intentionally, but looking back, I guess that’s what I expected of him. How could he have read my mind?
While planning dates isn’t his string suit, it’s mine, and I didn’t realize how bad we needed it until we got into a funk with each other. Many times, we were in a rut simply because we hadn’t done anything fun together in awhile. We were going to work, fixing stuff in the house, paying bills, visiting family, while not really allowing ourselves time to reconnect.
When we have weekends at the house, it tends to be a big list of to-dos. This needs cleaning, we need to update that…
The act of leaving the house helps you gain perspective. It’s just you and your spouse. You remember you still like each other, and the money doesn’t seem as stressful when you realize it’s well-spent.
If you’re feeling at odds with your spouse, chances are, you need to get away together, even if it’s just for a night. I suggest going on at least 1-2 dates a month and planning a night away once a season. It could be as a simple as a hotel in a nearby city, or planning a week-long trip to another state. Either way, get it on the calendar!
7. IT’S OKAY TO DO THINGS BY YOURSELF—GIVE EACH OTHER SPACE
My husband loves to play music. Before we had kids, he would invite a few buddies over to “jam”. For me, it was a disruption to my quiet evening and I couldn’t wait until the last person left. I could be on the other side of the house and hear their session like it was right next to me.
One night, I decided to go to the movies. By myself.
I ordered a hotdog, nachos and sour patch kids and sat in the theater watching a movie I wanted to see but knew he wouldn’t be interested in. I had the space to do whatever I wanted in that moment, and it made me realize that I hadn’t been fair to him sitting there sulking until band practice was over. He hadn’t been holding me back from doing what I wanted, that was on me.
Give your spouse space to do the things he wants to do, and let him enjoy them—guilt-free, and take the opportunity to do your own thing, like going out with girlfriends to eat or getting a stomachache like I did on nachos and sour patch kids.
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For more posts on growing in your Christian marriage, check out:
- 14 Tips from 14 Years in a Christian Marriage
- Set Goals as a Couple in This Marriage Growth Workbook
- Marriage Advice From Older Couples
- Strengthen Your Relationships By Understanding the 5 Love Languages Types
- The Importance of Finding Independence in a Relationship
You’ve got this!
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