Sparklers twinkle in the warm night air as the bride and groom make their way through the crowd of people to the getaway car where they are whisked into marital bliss…
We’ve all been a part of that scene, watching our friends marry their best friends and begin the journey that is marriage. If you’re anything like me, you want so badly to ask the couple what their new marriage is really like, if it’s really what you thought. But pride (or maybe embarrassment) usually get the best of us and we shy away from asking the question. After all, I’m sure they’re in another dimension now, anyways. They probably don’t care what we mere singles ponder.
Now that the wedding shoe has been on my own foot, I can’t help but reflect on what newlywed life is really like. And I feel secure writing this because I’m not yet qualified to reflect on “married” life as a whole. It’s only been a month. But titling this “newlywed” hits a small—yet crucially important—stage of marriage that can only be experience when marriage is, well, new.
I will do my best to paint an accurate picture of my experience of marriage the past several weeks, as I’m sure I will forget these details six months from now. But know that everyone’s experience is different. I simply hope you glean some wisdom and truth from the things I’ve learned.
- Marriage is fun! This is always the first answer people give me when I ask about their newly married life. I hate getting that answer because it is so vague. But here’s why I’ve come to also define marriage as “fun”—you get to live with your best friend! You get to laugh together, eat every meal together, go on trips together, brush your teeth together, and fall asleep together. You never have to leave after saying goodnight, and there’s always someone to talk to! I can’t explain how much of an upgrade it is from dating. If you are ready to be married, it can be the biggest blessing.
- It’s not as weird as you may think. I didn’t know what it would be like to live with a boy. Maybe it’s just because Mason is a clean freak and a planner, but he has been a JOY to live with. I also wondered what it would be like going home for the first time being married. It wasn’t that different. As the saying goes…it’s only awkward if you make it awkward.
- You don’t change as much as you think. As I mentioned previously, the new “marriage” dimension seemed very real to me for so many years, but now that I’m married, I really don’t feel different. And when you think about it, the main thing that changes is your name, your bank account, and who you live with. While the marriage commitment is not something to be taken lightly, it is encouraging to see all the ways we were able to prepare our relationship before marriage that have made our relationship and commitment strong. Start preparing now! Your life doesn’t turn “magical” or “perfect” because you’re married. The same flaws, baggage, conflicts, and fears will come in with you. Working those out ahead of time make the newlywed time oh so much sweeter.
- Communication is key. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this advice, I could have paid for our wedding! But the advice remains. Everything important and everything insignificant are best handled when discussed openly and honestly.
- You learn to work as a team. When Mason first asked me to be his “teammate” (his way of saying “girlfriend”), I laughed at the term. Not anymore. You’re mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually one. That comes through much more significantly in marriage than in dating. At the end of the day, you can’t just leave a situation or emotion. You go to bed with it. Figuring out how to work, learn, and serve united can set your relationship far above the rest. I can’t tell you how many times Mason and I high-five during the week. Some people may think it’s stupid, but it’s one of the ways I feel most connected as spouses. We work towards the success of one another, and it’s rewarding to see the fruit of that labor.
- Fights can be avoided. When I hear or read posts similar to this one, there’s always something about “difficulty” or “conflict” in the first few months of marriage. I don’t oppose that. In fact, I’ve had many moments of spiritual trying and difficulty and pondering in these past few weeks–more than other times. Perhaps because marriage is an emotional and spiritual investment. Every moment seems more volatile in a way because each decision is inevitably connected to another person. But many of these difficult moments have had to do with me—my processing, spiritual growth, and adjustment. In fact, Mason has done nothing but comfort and aid me in these times of conflict. And isn’t that the role of a spouse? A helper and supporter. It is my opinion that fights between you and your spouse can be avoided. I’m not talking about “conflict” here. Conflict is constructive and growing and enlightening and facilitated by discussion. I’m talking about fights. Fights involve accusations, hurt-feelings, misinterpretation, etc. These are an unnecessary contributor to married life, especially newlywed life. Of course, there are plenty of things to disagree about in those new times, but the patterns you establish for dealing with differences will define the rest of your marriage. Again, start NOW in setting communicative patterns that uplift and facilitate, not hurt and hinder. Mason and I worked rigorously at this in dating and pre-marital counseling. Now in married life we are reaping the benefits and have yet to have what I would define as a severe disagreement or bad day of marriage.
- There’s much to be learned. I’ve learned a lot the past several weeks of marriage. But it almost overwhelms me to think how much more I have to learn. I used to think as soon as I was married I would know and understand everything! This is not so. Marriage has done nothing but make me aware of my own faults, inabilities, and lack of understanding. This institution God has put into place is one that sharpens and sanctifies. I couldn’t finish this article without assuring you that marriage is wonderful. But it must be done correctly. I can’t fathom what pain and frustration would come from a union so special that was not a place of life and growth.
For those of you reading this article who are not yet married, may these words be a challenge to prepare. I have seen firsthand the rewards that come to those who wait, who pray, who persevere in the dating times that others use only for fun. If marriage is the goal, it must be fought for.
For those of you reading this article who are married, may these words remind you of the beauty, excitement, and simplicity of newly married life. Yes, newlywed life will inevitably come to an end, but the principles don’t have to. You can carry the same passion, kindness, and sensitivity that you began with into the middle or latter days of the special journey.
Newlywed life is an adventure, but it is also a critical part of establishing a marriage. I pray that you ponder these as you continue the journey of faith and love.