You are either one of two people when you hear, “The first year of marriage is hard”: fearful of the journey or excited to overcome it. And then there was me. I hated hearing couples talk about their first year of marriage, especially when I got engaged. I felt like they weren’t giving single people much hope and their expressions always seemed covertly pessimistic and negative. So I stayed hopeful, decreeing and declaring success, and pouring spiritual anointing oil over Shane and I’s future marriage before it began with complete confidence our first year would beat the odds. And it did.
In one year we experienced more significant life changing events than most marriages encounter throughout ten years or more. Life wasted no time to test our marriage…literally. Unexpected tragedy struck our family the morning after our wedding, and days later we loss a loved one. Needless to say, grief and depression hit our marriage instantaneously. Throughout the year we also experienced loss of friendships, job changes, battled addictions, and in the midst of it all somehow released an album and did some traveling. Oh yeah! And don’t forget, we were pregnant for nine months of this and birthed our handsome son before our one year anniversary. Our experience has been a little more than a couple arguments over improperly squeezed toothpaste containers and dirty laundry inconveniently thrown on the floor (even though we’ve had those too).
*Deep breath* I’ve had to take a lot of those lately. I now understand why some newlyweds enthusiastically define marriage as hard. I’m also experienced enough to know their perceived pessimism could have been fear and their negativity could have been hope deferred. My lesson: never judge a marriage unless it’s your own. You will never know the depths of another marriage even if you feel you know everything.
I remember the moment Shane and I said I do. We literally experienced a shift in the spiritual realm as we became one. God’s blessing was truly upon us, and still is. His hand upon us was ever present during our first year. When we got to our first of three honeymoon destinations only to rush back on a plane one hour after landing, I didn’t know what to think. I wanted to say, “But this isn’t how things are supposed to be God.” And He told me, ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 KJV. Some versions say He knows the plans He has for you.
I was the best wife before we got married. I made decisions and had expectations on myself of how our marriage would be. I had it all figured out on how to do things “God’s way.” However, God’s way isn’t always what we think it looks like (hence, faith being activated through what we don’t see) and in order to grow us, God must garden us. What better way to be planted, watered, pruned and admired than through marriage.
God has the plan, and that plan is for Him to BE revealed. How He chooses and grants us opportunities to reveal Him is His choice, not ours. Many of Shane and I’s opportunities were tough and we often revealed more of our own natures instead of God’s. But that’s the beauty of marriage: growing, learning, loving through mistakes, “and not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:3-5.
If you’re feeling discouraged in your first year of marriage, pause for a second. Don’t do what I did. Everything is going to be okay and God wouldn’t allow anything He doesn’t know you can handle (with Him, of course). The tough days get better and the good days get sweeter. Just because Shane and I experienced extreme change that doesn’t mean we wanted to change our marriage. Marriage is probably one of the greatest ways to be matured in the Lord. Plus, it’s so much fun! And I’m not just referring to the sex (which definitely plays a large role).
I don’t know what your first year was or will be. Just love God and your husband above all else – not because of how he makes you feel but because what your husband needs lives inside of you.
God doesn’t create unstable or broken things. I’ll say this…first year, fifth year or year fifty…marriage is the necessary hardness to create the necessary softness in our hearts. Marriage is easy, it’s life and the people involved that make things difficult, but oh so beautiful. I highly recommend it. Our first year was beautiful.