This month, Jonathan and I celebrated 42 years of marriage. What an adventurous journey this has been. There have been a lot of ups and downs, great times, and tough times, but the faithfulness of God, His Word and our love for each other have been the glue that has held us together. I wouldn’t want to be adventuring with anyone else but my first and only love.
I met Jonathan when I was 16 on a missions trip to Mexico. That is a story in itself that I will save for another time. As much as I loved him, being in love is not enough to build a good foundation for marriage. Being in love and being prepared is the best way to start.
Preparation helps you navigate the pressures of life and there are a lot of pressures in marriage and in ministry.
In our circles, over 40 years ago, no one was talking about preparing for marriage. You got married young and plowed your way through the pain. There is some reality in that, but preparation is the foundation upon which you build a marriage. We didn’t have that and I wish we knew how important that was for our future.
A better marriage always begins with YOU. You may think you are only 5% of the problem and your spouse is 95% of the problem, then work on your 5% and be the best you can be.
What I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married:
1. I wish someone had told me that dating and being married and living together were nothing alike. I never thought it would be so hard to live with someone I loved and chose to spend the rest of my life with.
Everything bothered me that never bothered me before we were married! He chewed too loud. He’s an only child from a quiet Italian family (can you believe Italian and quiet?); I’m from a loud Italian family with two sisters. He’s spontaneous; I need a plan.
These were all things I knew about him, but somehow living with them everyday was a huge challenge for my love walk and to make it worse, he seemed oblivious to it all! I wish someone told me how challenging it would be to go from dating to married and living together.
2. I wish I really knew how much the growth and development of my marriage/family depended upon MY spiritual growth.
I nearly sucked the life out of Jonathan until I developed my own faith walk and understood God is my source. Jonathan is “a” provider for our family, but he will never be the “source” of our provision.
I deal with a lot of women with unrealistic expectations of their husbands.
Our husbands are not our all in all - only Jesus is!
- I needed to develop my own prayer life and intimacy with God.
- I needed to learn to cast my cares on God - not Jonathan.
- I needed to develop my own daily disciplines - spiritually and with my home.
- I needed to realize that our children were watching both of us, not just Jonathan.
- I needed to grow so I could add my spiritual supply to our family.
3. I wish we knew how important it was to have a marriage mentor.
We married right out of college. I was 20 and Jonathan was 21 - it was a recipe for disaster. Had it not been for our love for each other and the examples we had in our parents, we may not have made it. We were living in another state with no family within hundreds of miles.
It would have been so beneficial for us to have had a seasoned couple to invest in us and guide us on our new journey. A couples small group would have been perfect for us.
4. I wish I knew that Jonathan wasn’t the source of my joy and happiness.
Don’t get me wrong, he made me happy but he wasn’t and isn’t the source of my joy.
God and God alone is the total source of my joy.
Jesus must be the center of our joy. No human, no matter how much you love them and they love you, can fill you with pure joy - only Jesus can!
5. I wish I knew that Jonathan’s greatest need was respect.
I always thought my husband’s greatest need was “help” based on Genesis 2:16. “It wasn’t good for man to be alone so God made a helper-meet, suitable, adapting and complementary for him - continually surrounding him with aid and assistance.” I figured this guy really needs help and that’s my job!
Although helping Jonathan is my delight, according to Ephesians 5:33, a man’s greatest need is for respect. “...let the wife see that she respects and reverances her husband…”
I never realized how important respect is to a man and we were speaking two totally different languages. We were sending each other different signals and neither of us were reading them correctly and we were about to shipwreck! Thank God we finally got it right and we continue to work on our “love and respect”. (Dr. Emerson Eggrich)
Whatever you find yourself going through today in your marriage, you are not alone. You can be sure scores of people have gone and are going through the same issues you are.
Find yourself some solid couples that can guide you, speak into your life and help you through the rough spots. We all have lots of rough spots. We made it through and are enjoying a fulfilling marriage - So can you. Don’t do it alone!