I have been married for over 12 years and there are a few things I wish I knew before marriage.
In honour of that, I am writing a series of posts about marriage.
Last week, I focused mostly on the Lessons I learned in the first year of marriage.
Today, I want to look at what happens after year one.
In this post, I will share some of the struggles we faced over the years and 4 things I wish I knew before marriage.
Before I got married, most people would give general marriage advice and would give you warnings about the first year, but nobody actually told me what specific struggles they faced and how they overcame them.
So, I want to change that.
5 things I wished I knew before Marriage
1. Hard times do come
I was told over and over that the first year of marriage was the hardest. So after having an easy first year, I was naive to think that things would only get easier.
But that’s not how things work.
Within weeks of our one year anniversary, we started being hit with some hard stuff.
It’s not that our marriage became harder, but that life started throwing things at us that we were not ready for.
It sort of felt like we were being hit over and over again for 4 years straight.
Some of the things we faced in those 4 years:
- a miscarriage
- Close mentor dying
- Full-time school
- First-time parents
- Unemployment (2 different times)
- Mental illness
- Moving across the country
- and I am sure there is more than that.
Even as I read this list, I ask myself how we lived through all that. I know there’s not much detail, but that’s for another time.
I just wish knew before marriage that we would face so many struggles. There might have been a way for me to be more prepared or not as naive as I was.
2. Enjoy today
Now that things are going better in our lives we have time to reflect on the past and just enjoy the days we have.
The past struggles have taught me that things can change at any time.
It’s not something that I fear, but something that reminds me to enjoy each day.
“Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.”
Proverbs 27:1 NKJV
“whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
James 4:14 NKJV
I wish I knew before marriage how to enjoy the moment. We spent too much time focussing on what we did not have and what I wanted. I forgot to enjoy the present and to enjoy each small moment.
3. It’s ok to ask for help
My husband was diagnosed with a general anxiety disorder in the fall of 2011.
He has been dealing with anxiety since he was at least 9 but did not know what it was until 2011.
Before his diagnosis, we had no clue what was wrong.
I could tell that something was off and that he was struggling with something.
I could just not put my finger on it.
When I asked him how he was feeling or what he was feeling, he didn’t know how to tell me what was going on.
We did not have the vocabulary or the knowledge to know what was going on.
His anxiety also kept him from sharing with me what was going on.
In his anxiety, he feared that I would leave him and stop loving him if he told me what was on his mind.
During this time, I felt extremely alone.
I knew my husband was struggling but felt like telling anyone about it would be showing him in a negative light and speaking badly about him and it made me feel disloyal.
These were all lies!
I wish I knew before marriage that I could ask for help without making my husband look bad.
Had I known what we were dealing with, I would have fund help so much earlier.
4. It’s ok to Share Your struggles
I want you to know that it’s ok to share your struggles and your pain.
We don’t have to tell everyone and we certainly don’t even have to share details.
But, we do have to learn ways to communicate with others that make us feel safe without feeling like we are throwing our spouse under the bus.
As Christians, it ok to struggle! It’s even normal.
We need to do a better job to show others that we sometimes lack faith, wisdom, patience, and love.
If this had been the Christian culture we had grown up with, we might have spent less time feeling ashamed and more time getting help.
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5. The hard times bring blessings
As much as I was not ready for the struggles, I was not ready for the blessings that would come out of it.
“And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Romans 5:3-5 NKJV
I knew these verses and knew what they meant but had not really seen the truth of these verses for myself.
As ridiculous as those 4 years were, we would not give them back. If it was up to me, we would have skipped them completely.
But The Lord used those years. He redeemed them for good.
Not only did these times grow character in me, but also in my husband.
We both grew in our faith.
The best thing to come out of all of it was God giving us peace about us sharing our story.
We had never had real discussions about mental health before. We had no clue what it looked like. It was not until a friend (who had experienced mental health in the past) saw the signs and intervened that Greg got help.
So now, we are very open about Greg’s health, his struggle, and how God has helped us through it.
With our openness, we (mostly Greg) have been able to help and bless many others in their mental health struggle.
What advice would you give?
If I was able to go back in time, I am sure I would read this blog post and still not really be ready for what was to come.
Sometimes, no matter how many times someone tells you something, it’s not until you walk through it that you can understand.
The best thing we ever did was to pray for our marriage. If you need some guidance on what to pray for your marriage, click here to get 30 scriptures you can pray for your marriage.
In the comments below, share what marriage advice would you give to your younger self?