What Six Months of Marriage has Taught Me

Yesterday, Hans and I passed the six month marriage mark. Which is a little like:

If I’ve learned anything in the last six months, it’s this: I don’t know anything. So, really, this whole post kind of like a toddler claiming that they know how to do ballet. I don’t know what I’m doing. At all. If you’re newly married, feel free to take my second piece of advice and then phone a friend. If you’ve been married for a while, feel free to laugh at me.

I’m writing this because I want to be honest. Another thing I’ve learned in the past six months? Marriage isn’t perfect. I get frustrated with people who parade that their marriage is perfectly shiny and wonderful all the time. Humans are sinners. A sinner + a sinner does not = sunshine and daisies forever. A sinner + a sinner = more sin. So, let’s get over the Pinterest-perfect image we have of marriage and have an honest conversation instead. I’ll go first.

I’ve established that I have absolutely no marital wisdom whatsoever. Ok? Ok. Here we go.

1. You need Jesus.
This is the most important thing I can possibly tell you. This is a mistake that I made during the first several months of our marriage, and it hurt us greatly. I tried to get all my emotional satisfaction from Hans, all of my encouragement, all of my fulfillment and purpose. In short, I made Hans my savior. Let me tell you…my husband is a remarkable man. But he was not made to endure that kind of pressure. When I put it on him, he grows weary of feeling like he doesn’t measure up and that he can’t make me happy. We turn real miserable real quick. When I seek Christ first, things go a lot better.

You need Jesus because you’re a sinner in need of a Savior. You also need Jesus because you need His grace to show your spouse grace. You need Him to clean out your selfishness in order to show your spouse selflessness. You need His forgiveness to forgive your spouse. You need His strength to keep those crazy promises you made on your wedding day. You need His peace to sustain your marriage through the desert places.

2. You need help.
Whether that’s an older couple to mentor you, a Sunday School or Bible study group for newly marrieds, an abundance of relationship books and sermons, a marriage counselor, the guidance of a pastor, or even admitting that you need a psychiatrist and antidepressants…you need help. Seek it out.

3. Fun things (date nights, getaways, etc.) won’t happen unless you make them.
Be intentional to keep dating after the wedding day. Make a plan for regular date nights – for us, it’s Wednesdays – and stick to it. Protect it on your schedule and get creative! Check out Rachel’s list of Go To Date Nights.

Plan fun getaways and trips. Even if it’s just a day trip to the neighboring town, take adventures together. Camping is a great way to travel without spending a ton of money on lodging. Hans and I are meeting friends in Galveston for Spring break, and we’re splitting the $15-a-night campsite fee…because we’re all newlyweds and we’re poor.

4. Fighting is normal.
…which is something I didn’t know. My parents can count on one hand the times they’ve fought in nearly thirty years of marriage (I love my parents dearly, but their marriage is a fantastically unrealistic example because they’re as rare as unicorns) and I can count on one hand the number of times Hans and I fought in our first week of marriage.

Hear me. You’ll have misunderstandings. You will get frustrated. You’ll epically fail at communication. You’ll get your feelings hurt. You’ll reflect the love of Christ about as well as a brick. You’ll be selfish, angry, ungodly, and maybe even bitter. It’s normal. You don’t want fighting to be your “normal”, but fighting in and of itself is normal.*

As long as you work towards a resolution quickly, these things will not be the end of the world. Communicate through the fight and make up afterwards. Learn from your fights so you can nip them in the bud. Remember that, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time, your spouse is a good willed person and they do love you.

*There is a difference between normal marital fighting and an abusive relationship. If you think your marriage has crossed that line, refer to #2. Get help.

5. Sex requires talking.
Mark Driscoll says, “Our Christian culture teaches people that sex is gross, dirty, and disgusting…so save it for the one you love.” On your way down the aisle, sex is something to be avoided like the plague. On your way back up the aisle? All holds are off, baby! It’s a quick switch, you’ve probably never done this before (we hadn’t, maybe you have. I’m not going to judge you because I’m a sinner too…welcome to the club), it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before, it’s takes a great deal of vulnerability and trust, and it takes some time to figure things out. It’s also terrific fun. Talk about it.

Books from people that are way smarter than me:

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs
Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman
Sheet Music by Kevin Leman

What have/did you learn in your first six months of marriage?

Under Grace,
Rachel

8 thoughts on “What Six Months of Marriage has Taught Me

  1. We have been married for three months, and sex has become a regular topic for us. I wish someone had told me that sex was as hard as it is, and that it takes time to get good at. It is a learning process; I am just glad that I am learning it with my husband, and not anyway one else. Happy six months!

    • People in the church just don’t talk about sex these days…it’s kind of like, “Ok! Well, you’re married now! Go figure it out!” Like anything worth doing well, it does take some time and some learning…you’re exactly right!
      “Sheet Music” would probably be very helpful for you and your husband.
      Also, the Song of Solomon Sermon Series from Mark Driscoll…it will make you laugh and it’s entirely Biblical. Here’s the link: http://marshill.com/media/the-peasant-princess

  2. Happy Six Months!! My husband and I are celebrating our two-years today, though sadly I am across the ocean for work, and I agree that a happy relationship doesn’t just happen. When we were thinking about what we wanted to include in our vow, we took a look at the couples around us, what we liked and didn’t like, and realized that communication is a BIG DEAL. So part of our vows is to “communicate fearlessly” with each other. I think that has been my biggest lesson, you just need to communicate, and when you think you’re really good at it, push it a little more.

    Your suggestion for a mentor couple is one I haven’t heard before, but it is a great idea! We’re not very social by nature so we don’t go out often, and while I attend church but my husband does not which can make hanging out with church fiends together a little… awkward. I hope that someday (hopefully soon!) we will find a couple that will be kind enough to take us under their wing and help us on this journey of marriage.

    Congratulations again! I hope that it just keeps getting better. ❤

    • Boo! I’m sad that you guys are apart for your anniversary 😦 You’ll have to celebrate doubly when you’re back together!

      You’re right…communication is a *huge* deal, and there is always room to improve. How have you guys made communication easier and a priority?

      We don’t have a formal mentoring couple yet, but we would really like to!! I figure that we can learn a lot from people who are a decade or two down the road from where we are. Maybe you could find a couple in your church that you could ask about mentoring you and your husband…if it’s just the four of you going out to dinner or something, hopefully things won’t be as awkward!

      Thank you! I hope things keep getting better, too!

      • We talk, a LOT, about anything and everything that is on our mind, and we totally call each other out when we can tell that the other is upset about something but isn’t talking about it. It can be a little scary sometimes, cuz I’m sure he’ll think I’m crazy, but it is good to have everything out in the open. We have always been very open to each other since we met, so it hasn’t been a huge change since we’ve been married, but it is easy to crawl into your shell and hide when you’re upset. But that’s when you need to talk to each other, even if the problem/issue isn’t about your spouse, they are your moral support. 🙂

  3. Love this post! Thanks for your vulnerability and honesty!
    Even though we have just been married for two months- I feel like saying amen to each of your points!
    We have SO much learning to do!
    I went to a bridal shower the other night- and on my card I wrote that the two things I have been learning the most are:
    “Pray for your husband” and “give grace freely”

    We have been listening together to “The Peasant Princess” by Mark Driscoll- and it’s been really good….it breaks down some walls to listen to someone else talk about sex in a godly and honoring way- for us to then be clear in communication about it.
    Finding a mentor couple is something we are praying about….we would love that!

    I hate that we have arguments and miscommunications….but thanks for your words “welcome to the club!”
    http://lovelydoesit.com

    • I’m so glad you liked it! I was definitely thinking about you while I was writing!

      For just being married two months, you’re two pieces of advice to that bride to be show a lot of wisdom…I think grace and prayer are two of the strongest things you can do to invest in your marriage!

      The Peasant Princess is *so* good! If you don’t mind sharing, what is your favorite thing that ya’ll have learned from it so far?

      Yes…welcome to the club 🙂 No one is perfect, and that’s why there is Jesus!

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