In our engagement season, I asked several couples what advice they’d give me as I entered into marriage. To my surprise, many of the responses were negative. Some individuals would scoff and say, “Enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts.” or “The spark starts fading after the first couple of years.” While embracing the reality that marriage can indeed be difficult, I was disheartened. The dream I had since I was a little girl of marrying the love of my life slowly waned. Although I was still elated to marry Noah, my expectations for marriage sank.
Then, under an arbor of spring blooms on an April afternoon, our journey together started.
Since that sacred moment, we’ve experienced laughter and bliss as well as disappointment and miscommunication. As I reflect on our marriage thus far, gratitude immediately floods my heart — not only for the gift of my husband but especially for the lessons we’ve learned.
While I realize that Noah and I have plenty of mountains and valleys to travel in the years ahead, we’ve experienced growth and victories even in the start of our journey. Here are some highlights of what I’ve learned as a newlywed as we’ve walked through the beginning of our marriage.
The simple joys
The following months after our wedding day consisted of lots of learning but also simple joys — joys that no one mentioned to me in the engagement season.
I remember the delight of lazy, Saturday mornings sipping coffee and reading the Word together as the sun rose. Or the thrill of making weeknight pasta while singing and dancing to classic Italian ballads in the kitchen. Or the adrenaline rush of spontaneous adventures to new places for a weekend.
Perhaps the greatest joy was simply not having to leave him after spending time together. He became my protection — a safe place, a constant source of support and encouragement.
The joys of walking with your best friend for all your days are abundant.
Opportunity for growth
Before marriage, I had often heard that your selfish nature was magnified when you live with your spouse. Sure enough, this was one of the first lessons I learned as a newlywed. I have already been humbled time and time again by the amount of self-seeking tendencies that surface daily in my heart.
My husband isn’t perfect, of course, but he’s selfless in many ways. His extraordinary ability to see and love others convicts me every time. For instance, he recently bought to-go coffee cups. When I asked who they were for, he replied, “For the garbage collectors in case they need a hot drink on their weekly route.” Seeing my husband live in sacrificial love encourages me to live with Christ’s love.
I’m learning that marriage offers daily opportunities to reflect Jesus’ servant heart and put my spouse before myself. Matthew 20:28 explains that Jesus came “not to be served but to serve.” So, instead of kicking back to watch my favorite TV show after work, I can choose to make my husband a delicious dinner. Or when Noah’s workload is heavy, I can take on his household responsibilities.
One of the most beautiful gifts of marriage is the ability to become more like Christ by being challenged by our spouse. When we gently call out the selfish or impure motives that we see in each other, growth can happen. Proverbs 27:17 says, “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” The strength of one spouse can encourage the other.
Noah and I lived a few hours apart for the majority of our dating relationship. So, when we saw each other, we treasured every moment. We didn’t talk much about huge life issues because we were focused on enjoying each precious moment together. The transition from dating to living together as a married couple was a tougher adjustment than we expected.
While dating, you’re focused on learning about the other person and spending quality time together. In marriage, since you’re with each other every day, arguments are inevitable. One of the most challenging lessons my husband and I had to learn (and are still learning) was about communication.
For example, if we were arguing and came to a standstill, I needed time to process my emotions while Noah wanted to chat it out right away. At first, I would go someplace alone, and he would wait for me to talk about it, but I would never come out to confront the situation. This would place a wedge in our relationship, and the unsolved disagreement would remain for days.
After a while, I learned that remaining silent would only prolong the distance between us. And that distance felt painful. So, slowly, I began vocalizing my thoughts and emotions after a disagreement. Eventually, each of us better understood how the other communicated, and now we approach disputes with more ease and familiarity.
The power of prayer
Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned as a newlywed is the power of praying for my spouse and for our marriage. Ephesians 6:12 states, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, … against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
From the beginning, my parents encouraged me to pray regularly for Noah and our relationship. But I had no idea where to start. Eventually, when I realized firsthand that marriage wasn’t entirely easy, I ordered a book called The Power of a Praying Wife. So, I committed to reading the majority of the book’s prayers aloud every day, which I still do each morning.
I can’t say that something drastically changed in our marriage immediately after I began praying those prayers. But since the prayers are rooted in Scripture, they’ve transformed my mind to view my husband in the light of God’s truth. I believe that prayer covers us with His protection. I feel greater peace when I’m consistently praying for my husband and my marriage.
Noah and I have a long way ahead on our journey. We still need plenty of counsel and wisdom. We have much to learn, especially when big transitions such as children and life’s unexpected challenges come into the picture. But I’m grateful that we’ve learned the unexpected joys of marriage. I can easily say that it’s been the greatest delight walking alongside my best friend. And I’m forever grateful.