Everyone says the first year of marriage is the honeymoon stage. I like to call the first year of my marriage more like the hellacious stage. Haha! But seriously (ha!). It wasn't all bad. It's just that I was 19 and moving 3,000 miles away from everything and everyone I had always known. And oh yeah, I would likely be alone half the time with Garrett being out to sea. It was hard. Really hard. Fortunately, it worked for us because we went through most of the really hard stuff the first several years of our marriage. I know not everyone will have that same experience.
I think you can get married young, grow and "find yourselves" (hate that expression) together OR I think you can "find yourself" in your 20's and go into a relationship with the high standards you have set for your future spouse. I don't think one way is better than the other. But no matter which path you choose, regardless of what some people say, marriage can be just plain hard!
Here are some things I have learned about marriage along the way. I hope you find them useful.
- Don't go into a marriage expecting to change your spouse. They are who they are. If you want something fundamental changed about them (i.e. they turn into an alcoholic, they become addicted to pornography, etc.) that is when you turn to God and pray for the change.
- Don't retaliate. This could range from unfaithfulness to spending money to doing something just because you know it annoys them.
- You are not always right. Neither is he. Sometimes both of you are wrong.
- Don't waste your energy trying to make everything even. For example, he had a guys' night so you "deserve" a girls' night.
- Let him enjoy his hobbies.
- Try and find some interest in his hobbies or passion. This will allow you to have more in common later in the marriage.
- Bedroom time is not always as easy to find after kids. Be creative and make the time!
- Take vacations, even if it's just a weekend away. This is SO important, especially after kids.
- Keep the humor in your relationship. I love laughing and that is part of why I love spending time with Garrett.
- Be yourself. Show your spouse who you really are before you get married (if you aren't already). Or later on down the road you may hear this from your husband: "What do you mean you don't love watching every single football game with me during football season?" Or this is my personal favorite from Garrett, "Once that ring went on your finger you stopped....." (and he fills in the blank with anything that comes to mind).
- Get on the same page about parenting BEFORE you have kids.
- Get on the same page about religion BEFORE you get married.
- Don't have unrealistic expectations for your spouse.
- Don't expect your husband to be the same as your friend's husband. You never know what's going on behind closed doors at that friend's house.
- Learn to love your in-laws if you don't already. It will make your marriage so much easier.
- Spend as much time together as you can. My experience has shown that spending time together, not apart,solidifies the relationship.
- Be the kind of wife/mother you want your daughter to be or son to choose.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate about the good and bad!
- Don't be scared to age together. It's okay that your idea of a perfect date night might be sitting at home watching a show on DVR rather than going to a bar until 2 am.
- Make God the center of your marriage, even if your spouse is not doing the same. I can't even put into words how life changing this was for my marriage.
Just some tid bits from my experience.