Erick and I attend a lot of weddings. We love them. I cry at every single one — which leads, of course, to Erick giving me a slight smirk as he slowly removes a kleenex from his pocket and hands it to me. It’s a fun game we play.
It truly is one of the most wonderful days of your life. I remember mine so absolutely clearly. I remember putting on my veil, seeing Erick’s face for the first time, the heaviness of my dress and the emotions that flowed through my body as I walked down the aisle with my dad. I remember the sting of the birdseed as it was pelted at me by the groomsmen — lovingly, of course. I remember the absolute glee on Erick’s face when we hopped in his dad’s 1960 corvette. I remember dancing with Erick as though it was last night, and it was nearly 4 years ago.
This is the thing, though: When people tell you that your wedding day is the best day of your life, what it sort of sounds like they’re saying is that it’s all downhill after the wedding is over. The serious business starts when the dancing stops. That’s true, in some ways. Marriage is serious business, and there’s a lot to marriage that you can’t see the day you’re wearing white. Your wedding day will, of course, be an extraordinary day. But on that day, you cannot imagine the beautiful, life-altering, soul-shaping things ahead of you. This is just the beginning.
For those of you who are single and still waiting for the right guy, for those of you dating the one who you think will be your man, for those of you counting down each day to the day you can say “I do” — I’ve been there. I understand the longing, the waiting, the excitement. I know you believe that on your wedding day, you will not possibly love your man more. I understand that. I felt that. I was wrong. This is just the beginning.
I’m not an expert or anything, and certainly not on marriage, but I can tell you that what you feel on your wedding day is like taking one step into the woods, and with every passing year, you venture farther and farther into the brush, pushing past branches, climbing over boulders, jumping over fallen trees, unable — at a certain point — to experience anything except pine-scented air held in place by a forest that you never want to leave. This is just the beginning.
You will cry together, laugh together, pray and dream and move furniture together. You will learn and unlearn things, make a home, hurt each other’s feelings without meaning to, and sometimes very much on purpose. You will learn over time that the heart of marriage is forgiveness. You will learn in the first 3 months how much forgiveness he requires, and then you will realize, in the 3 months after that, just how much forgiveness you yourself need.
Don’t worry too much about all the advice that other people are giving you, mine, of course, included. Part of being a married couple means that you create a new identity together, “a new normal” is what Erick’s likes to say. Your “normal” is woven from your experiences and histories and lives, and while the whole world is full of opinions, work hard to become your own family, with your own values and traditions, things you always do, things you never do, things that bring you back to why you fell in love in the first place. Carve out time together. There will be seasons that are as dry as deserts, and the history of your love for one another will be the water you need to bring new life and growth.
You, my dear friend, will be a bride for one day, but you will, with God’s grace and very hard work, be a wife to this man every day for the rest of your life. Being a bride is super fun, but it pales in comparison to the thrill and beauty of being a part of life’s truly great partnership — a partnership God created so that we could experience just a small taste of the deep affection He has for us.
Marriage is a never-ending growth process. No other challenge, activity, task, or relationship has required more of myself — my wants, my desires, my time, my energy — than my marriage to Erick. I’ve learned more about what the Lord desires me to be, and the grace I so desperately need to be this woman.
Marriage shows you a realistic, unflattering picture of who you are, and then forces you to pay attention to it. I wish someone would have told me this before I got married. But grace abides my friends. For the wives and brides around me — this is my advice to you. The wedding day — this is just the beginning.
1. Marriage is made up of two good forgivers. Because every marriage is made up of two sinners. (Romans 3:23)
2. At some point, you will have to learn that life isn’t all about you. (Philippians 2:3)
3. Don’t listen to women that tell you that passion fades…it doesn’t have to! (see all of Song of Solomon)
5. Give your husband the gift of your respect. He needs it more than you know. (Ephesians 5:33)
6. Be mindful of your expectations.
7. Honor the Lord above all things. Colossians 3: 17
8. Find your worth and security in the Lord, and don’t look to your husband to meet all of your needs.
9. Be very careful about reading romance novels, (or watching romantic movies for that matter), they set you up for an unrealistic view of romance.
10. Love is about relationship. The more I love my husband, and seek a relationship with him, the less critical and duty-bound I become. It is similar to my relationship with God.
11. Be thankful for the husband you have. Accept him as he is, not for what you want him to be.
12. Don’t compare! Don’t buy into the game of comparing him with anyone else’s husband.
13. Your marriage is a testimony! “Marriage, if done right, could change the world.” – Kathy Keller, wife of pastor Tim Keller.
14. Pray for your marriage. Pray often. Pray hard.
15. Where there is God, there is always hope. Even for the most broken marriages. “With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)