I got married two days after my thirtieth birthday. We celebrated our thirty-second anniversary last May. My daughter asked me what advice I’d give young wives and I had to think & pray about it because it has been a long time since I was a young wife. I now have been married longer than I was single — something I could not imagine being true in my mid-twenties.
I came into marriage with a lot of sound and unsound Biblical teaching along with emotional baggage and unresolved issues. I had theory, but not practice (except in the experience of those who gave advice). I had expectations based on all the books, movies, and music I’d been exposed to. And I was like every other new spouse in that regard. We all come into marriage unprepared for the reality at some level because it is a new thing.
Nothing Will Be Like You Thought It Would Be
At least, not after the first “dream come true” moments when you think your fantasy has actually become real. That organized house, perfect pair of jeans, and every relationship you might have will be different after you live with them a while. I was reminded of this recently by a 9-year-old who confided, “I thought when my dad told me he would have full custody that everything would change, but really it didn’t much.” Her life has had a lot of changes and this one will be good, but it will not be problem-free.
Getting married does not mean “happily ever after” any more than getting to live with your most stable parent means everything will change. But living with the most stable parent is pretty good when you are nine. A stable home is a good thing at any age even when it isn’t like what you thought it would be. Any kind of home can become something good when God is finished with the people who live there. This is something I thought I understood, but the in-your-face dynamics of marriage and parenthood took that understanding deeper.
Things in God’s Hand are Not Wasted
I think the most important thing to remember about marriage is the same thing that is priority in singleness: God is with us. He is with us in the mundane daily tasks that nobody sees. He is with us in the spotlight of high-stress situations. He promises that all the things..ALL of them…are not wasted (Romans 8) but we have no promise that things will be what we planned.
Some heartbreaking things can happen. Discouragement and despair can cloud our vision until we can’t see any hope at all. Is God still working? Yes. Is He still with us? Yes. The entire Bible is the story of His redemptive love for broken, sinful, rebellious individuals. The fact that you are here, reading these words, means that He is giving you another chance to respond to Him.
Most of life is not made up of big things. Life is little things, one after another, day after day. The choices we make in the little things don’t always seem very important. Much of the time, God is the only one who knows what kind of sacrifice it is to keep your mouth shut or pick up that sock on the floor. It’s a sacrifice to stop what I am doing and pay attention to someone who wants to talk. But those are the times I am picking up my cross and following Jesus.
As we do that, the hidden choices pile up. The mundane things are not wasted. It won’t be like you thought it would be, but it will be better than you could imagine eventually.