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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 17:24 EDT

Memo to Newlyweds: Take It a Step at a Time

August 5, 2008

It’s been a summer of celebrating marriage for our family. Mark and I celebrated 25 years of marriage just a few weeks ago and in a matter of days our second-oldest child will be entering into married life. The years of both marriage and parenting have flown by so fast.

Twenty-five years ago, Mark and I were so young and nave. We had starry eyes, big dreams and absolutely no money. But we loved, laughed and learned together, muddling our way into the real world and this thing called marriage.

As I think back to the early years, and as I ponder my son’s upcoming wedding, I think about all that I didn’t know when I said “I do …”- I had no idea how selfish I was. Marriage showed me the reality of my self-centeredness.- I had no idea how hard marriage would be. It’s a lot more work than most of us think.- I had no idea it would require 100 percent on my part. I thought it was a 50-50 deal. Not so. It’s 100-100 that makes for a healthy marriage.- I had no idea that love was more than a feeling. Truth is, love is a choice. The feeling comes and goes.- I had no idea how different we were. Those differences were charming to us – until we started living under the same roof. It was then that we had to learn to celebrate our differences and move from frustration to fascination.- I had no idea that Mark couldn’t read my mind. In a huff, I’d say to myself, “He should just know …” Truth is, he doesn’t know unless I communicate to him, with words.- I had no idea I’d have to learn to pray a different prayer. Too often, in the early years, I arrogantly prayed, “God, please change him!” Over time I’ve learned to humbly pray, “God, please change me.”- I had no idea forgiveness was a choice and I’d have to learn to forgive “in the moment.” Too often I felt like every wrong had to be discussed and talked about, but in time I learned that sometimes I can quickly resolve a misunderstanding in my heart with the choice of forgiveness. No discussion necessary.- I had no idea that forgiveness would be a daily event. But it is. We live with an imperfect person who will disappoint us, let us down and sometimes unintentionally hurt us just by being different from us. Choosing to forgive is the only way to give grace and move forward.- I had no idea that I still acted childishly in times of conflict. Slamming doors, throwing things and stomping through the house have no place in married life. Non- verbal childish communication had to be replaced with verbal grown- up communication.- I had no idea that we would need to date after we were married. I thought dating was for “before marriage.” A healthy marriage needs intentional time for communication, fun, and recreation. Dating has to continue after “I do.”- I had no idea that listening was just as important as talking. But it is. When I let my husband know he’s been heard rather than jumping in and defending my position or opinion first, we get a lot further in times of conflict.- I had no idea that we’d ever have to visit a marriage counselor. But we have several times throughout the years. We’ve learned there is no shame in asking for help to make your marriage go the distance.- I had no idea that I could love my husband more today than I did 25 years ago. But I do. It’s a different kind of love. The infatuation has been replaced by intimacy. The feeling has been replaced by commitment. And the love is stronger because of all we’ve been through and all we’ve shared.

Congratulations, Julie and Evan. There’s so much you don’t know. But what you know today about your love for each other is enough to get you through tomorrow. And you’ll take this journey just like the rest of us: learning new things about ourselves and each another, one married day at a time.

Hearts at Home is a nonprofit organization designed to encourage, educate and equip moms. Hearts at Home, 1509 N. Clinton Blvd., Bloomington, IL 61701-1813; (309) 828-MOMS; www.hearts-at-home.org.

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