Congratulations, you survived the gauntlet of Christian dating.
You made it through the avalanche of unsolicited advice from every married person in your church.
You navigated the minefield of other Christians asking invasive questions they never ask singles or married people.
Now you get to spend the rest of your life with your best friend. That’s awesome.
Seriously, marriage is great. But there are hard truths nobody tells you about the first year of married life.
I don’t tell you this because I am some marriage expert, or because I have been married for decades (in fact, this year I celebrate my fourth anniversary). I still have a lot to learn. But here’s what I wish I would have known heading into my very first year of married life as a Christian.
1. Your celebrity status ends the second you say “I do.”
When you were dating, everyone at church talked about how great of a couple you were. You had a squad of friends help plan your wedding. You felt like people were invested in your relationship (maybe even a little too invested).
Once you wake up on your first morning as a married person, all of that disappears.
The Bachelor and Bachelorette are hit shows because they vividly portray romantic uncertainty. Every week, millions of Americans tune in to find out who’s going to make it and who isn’t.
Movies are written about romantic relationships that may or may not survive. These movies end with the protagonist couple getting married, or breaking up in dramatic fashion. Once their future is sealed, their journeys are no longer Hollywood-worthy.
Your friends are still your friends, but your movie is over.
Embrace this as a freeing fact. You and your spouse can build your marriage the way you want, without having to field a dozen questions about every move you make.
You and your spouse are now the only people who wake up thinking about your relationship. Celebrate that.
2. Sex is messy.
Growing up in church, I was assured sex in marriage would be amazing. Sex is a gift, I heard in many sermons and youth group lessons, and it is the most sacred prize known to mankind as long as you’re married.
Imagine my shock when the movie-worthy sex of my wildest dreams didn’t magically manifest on my wedding night. Or the night after that. Or the night after that…
With the best of intentions, Christian culture hypes up sex within marriage as the trophy you receive for enduring the dating and courtship process. I was convinced legendary sex would… just happen.
The reality is that you and your spouse bring different expectations and assumptions to the bedroom. Lean into these differences and take intentional time to communicate about them.
Early on, your sex life is going to involve a lot of open and honest conversations.
Speaking of conversations…
3. You’re going to fight about the same things you always have.
Getting married is an exciting milestone, but it doesn’t change who you are as a person.
You are still you.
Tax advantages kick in immediately. Everything else about married life is a process.
If you fought about money while you were dating, you will fight about money when you’re married.
If you fought about who leaves their socks on the floor while you were dating, you will fight about those same socks when you’re married.
Now that you’re married, you get to figure out the best way to communicate about these pressure points. You no longer have the option of being able to split up and go back to your own place for the night to cool off.
One of the best tips I learned about dealing with conflict comes from Brené Brown. She famously recommends the phrase, “The story I’m telling myself is…”
“The story I’m telling myself is that you’re ignoring what I said about leaving socks on the floor because you don’t care about what I think.”
“The story I’m telling myself is that you make impulse purchases because you don’t value our financial future.”
These are responsible, healthy, and sometimes difficult ways to begin conversations about conflict. But it’s critical that you and your spouse establish open lines of communication about the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Bad Christian Advice for Newlyweds
Watch this video from Johnny and Chachi for some great ideas of what not to do.
In conclusion, let me affirm something you’ve seen in every other marriage article you’ve ever read: marriage really is a gift from God.
Getting to live life with your best friend is an adventure unlike any other, and it is worth putting in the work. Just know what kind of work you’ve got to put in.
What secret would you add to this list?
Article Submitted to Stuff Christians Know by Jacob Sanders.
Jacob has served on staff at Verve Church for more than a decade. He and his wife, Alicia, live in fabulous Las Vegas.