We wondered if they had the same feelings as we had on our wedding day. Were their faces hurting from the constant smiling? Were they relieved that the preparations for the wedding had finally come to an end?
The wedding was just about over, but the marriage was just beginning. Our friends were standing at the threshold of the unknown. They hadn’t gone this way before. There was so much they were going to discover about themselves, about each other and about marriage.
If we could sit down with them, cups of tea in hand, around our kitchen table, and have a candid chat about starting out on married life, this is what we would say.
Two Things We Discovered About Marriage
1. The First Year of Marriage Can Be Tough
It’s very understandable! Two people that have been living separate lives have now begun a new life together. They have come from different homes with different routines and likely have grown up with different family traditions. They bring into their marriage all these differences and their own experiences. For the marriage to work, wills must be submitted, habits abandoned if necessary, and compromises made. Essentially, considering the needs of another before one’s own - Philippians 2:3-4.
2. Marriage Requires a Huge Adjustment
In our first year of marriage, the level of adjustment required came as a shock to me! I had been independent and living on my own for a good number of years. This meant I didn’t need to check with anybody about where I was going or when or how I was going to spend my time. Marriage brought with it the necessity of consulting my spouse on these things. I have to say I found the process overwhelming and exhausting. Thankfully, with time, we settled into a routine.
There are three things that we implemented that helped us adjust to marriage and function as one unit.
Three Things That Helped Us
1. Praying Together
We already had our individual times of prayer and reading of scripture which we think is essential for every believer, but we found that praying together, daily, brought us closer as a couple. It provided an opportunity:
- to confess struggles to one another, as James 5:16 (ESV) says, “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another.”
- to talk about things we were thankful for and the needs of others, as well as our own needs (1 Timothy 2:1).
2. Playing Together
Before we were married, we lived in different countries and because of that we couldn’t share hobbies and interests. When we got married, we struggled to find things we could do together to unwind after a long day at work. We felt we needed to find something we could both enjoy doing regularly, something that would help us relax together. We took our cue from 1 Timothy 4:8 (ESV), “Bodily training is of some value”. So, we started going for daily evening walks, which quickly became a highlight of our day. This forced us to take a break from media, which can sometimes be a big distraction, and to leave behind household chores that demand our attention. It gave us a chance to connect with each other and have meaningful conversations.
3. Planning Together
This is something we wish we had implemented right from the start, particularly planning our budget together. Having a budget saves money and stress, and gives a sense of direction.
The unpleasant experience of falling into debt needs to be avoided if at all possible, since debt is enslaving. Proverbs 22:7 (ESV) says, “The borrower is the slave of the lender”.
Clearly there are many benefits from having a budget, but I think, for the follower of Christ, the biggest motivation to plan is the need to be good stewards of the material blessings the Lord has given us. An agreed budget works towards that goal.
Having A Firm Foundation
The first year can be tough (and so can every subsequent year), but any storm can be weathered if the marriage is built on Christ who is a firm foundation.
His Word provides a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path”, helping us to navigate through any obstacles of life, so that we can walk in accordance with His will (2 Timothy 3:16-17).