Your first year of marriage…A relational utopia or literal hell?
You’ve probably heard a million and one things about couples’ first year of marriage. Stories ranging from it being the best year ever to quite possibly the toughest 365 days ever endured. So many different factors contribute to the success of that first year and I’m no expert on what the success formula is.
What I do know is that my wife Erica and I had an amazing first year of marriage, but it wasn’t perfect. The thing that is so special about that first year is that it is such a huge year of learning. When two unique individuals get married and attempt to become one in every area of life, there are bound to be many lessons learned along the way.
As I reflect back to that first year of marriage when my wife and I were just young pups full of love and stepping out into the unknown, there are many takeaways that resonate. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I pray this will help both current (and future) husbands on their marriage journey. Here are some lessons I remember learning as a new husband during my first year of marriage:
1. Life is better TOGETHER
God definitely got it right when He said: “It is not good that man should be alone…” (Gen. 2:18). Having a companion to do life with is such a gift. Erica and I dated long distance when we were in college, and there would be times when I was in basketball season and we would only be able to see each other once a month. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, but man was it so amazing to get married and just simply be together. Living in the same city, under the same roof, eating meals at the same table, and sleeping in the same bed…HELLO :)! One of the coolest things I observed during that first year of marriage was just the power and enjoyment of two people standing arm in arm, on a journey TOGETHER!
2. It’s not about ME
I realized that pride, entitlement, ego, and the “bachelor mentality” had to leave real quick if this marriage thing was going to work. From the get go I had to embrace the fact that my marriage wasn’t about me. Just think about it…who got to make many of the final decisions during the wedding planning season? Who got to dress up in a super nice and expensive dress? Who got to walk down an aisle with all eyes on them? My lovely bride did, of course. Husbands (or future husbands), the sooner you can come to grips that the goal of your marriage isn’t to get your needs met, but instead, to meet the needs of your spouse, the better!
3. Saving yourself is so WORTH IT
As you can probably imagine, dating for 5 looooong years presented its fair share of attacks on our sexual purity. Ok, let’s be honest, we were “burning” (1 Cor. 7:9) and wanted to have sex really bad. We had some definite close calls and by no means were we perfect when it came to our purity. BUT, by God’s grace and the power of His Spirit we were virgins on our wedding night. And let me tell you what, it was so WORTH IT! God knew what He was doing when he created sex for the confines of a committed marriage relationship. It was the most precious gift Erica and I could give to each other on our wedding night. Our honeymoon and intimacy during the first year of marriage and onward was that much more special. If you are human and in a dating relationship, then I know you are in a battle. I encourage you to do whatever it takes to save yourself for marriage, because it’s so worth it. (for more help in this area, check out these other posts: Reestablishing Sexual Boundaries After You’ve Gone Too Far, Is Sexual Purity Possible?: 3 Ways To Pursue Purity In Your Dating Relationship, What The Heck?! A Note To My Young, Dating Self About The Fight For Purity)
4. Listen and TALK
In case you live under a rock, women like to talk. My wife sometimes just needs to talk and talk….and talk (and yours will too). It took me a while (confession: I’m still working on this almost 9 years later) to realize that most of the time she just wants me to listen. She just wants to be heard and understood. And she doesn’t want me to try to “fix her” or “fix the situation” right then and there. I remember during the first year of marriage on more than one occasion interrupting my wife, totally not acknowledging her feelings and emotions, and just telling her what I thought the answer was. Whether I was right or wrong, I was wrong. Then, on the flipside, when Erica would ask me a deep question out of the blue, I would have nothing to say except: “I don’t know?” or just stare off into space saying nothing. Fellas, I know we aren’t naturally wired this way, but the more we can learn to better articulate what we are feeling or what’s going on in our heart, the more fruitful our conversations will be with our spouse.
Well, thanks for reflecting with me. Marriage is a true gift from God. Husbands (future husbands), I pray that some of these lessons will in return help you have a great first year of marriage and beyond.
For my my wife’s take on the first year of marriage, check out her post: “Wife 101: Lessons I Learned My First Year Of Marriage”.
In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. 1 Peter 3:7 NLT