Sunday night, Michael and I took a pot of chili over to our pre-martial counselors’ house. David and Connie Thomas have three kids and we couldn’t have hand-picked a better couple to walk us through our engagement season, ask hard questions, and learn from. They have a beautiful historic home and something about sitting in their living room brings peace.
After Michael had successfully chased and wrestled the twin boys (he’s going to be a great dad!) & all the kids were in bed, David and Connie asked us questions about the first seven months of marriage. We talked about our joys, but also our arguments. It’s nice to be able to share openly & honestly without worrying about judgment. David asked us, “What most surprised you about marriage?” and I sat down this morning to reflect on his question more & want to share with you today in hopes you will know you are not alone (married) or know more what to expect (single).
What surprised me in marriage?
Selfishness. I never knew how selfish I really was! When you’re single, it’s all about you-“what time I want to get up, when I want to clean the house, and what I want to eat for dinner.” This attitude doesn’t work in marriage and it was really challenging for me to fight against my selfish desires (and still is).
“I never knew how annoying I am!” I said laughing. Two months into marriage, Michael asked me to use ‘plastic’ bowls for morning cereal when I get up before him because he could hear my spoon hitting the side of the ceramic bowl and it was waking him up. Ha! And I was eating “2 rooms” away from our bedroom! Michael can be in 4 rooms at one time…if that tells you anything about the size of our duplex. We both get on each others’ nerves & that was something I didn’t expect before marriage.
Money. Even after all our book-reading and money-planning, money was still a source of contention. Joining a checking account with someone is harder work than I imagined. All of a sudden, I couldn’t just flippantly go out to lunch with a friend or pick up a new outfit—I needed to plan & talk to Michael first! Now you might ask, then why would you join your checking accounts? We did because we think it’s important to live as “One”—in unity— and not as two people sharing space & a last name.
Forgiveness. I was clueless about the importance asking for and extending forgiveness in marriage. And I didn’t know how often Michael and I would have to forgive each other! Living in close relationship with someone lends itself to selfishness and hurting the other’s feelings. I knew forgiveness would be important for big things, but never imagined how critical it is to the life of our marriage. We don’t ever go to bed angry.
Just seven months ago, we said ‘I do’ and began the greatest journey of learning to love selflessly & fully. One of the best things we do to keep our marriage strong is we don’t sweep issues and feelings under the rug because we don’t want an explosion down the road. We have to daily ask forgiveness & share our hearts with each other-when sometimes it would be much easier just to bottle up feelings and move on. We love to dream together & can’t wait to see what the future holds. Because we’re in this together, for the long-haul. Joy!
Singles…did anything on the list surprise you? Marrieds…can you echo anything I shared or add anything to my list?
I saw someone post your “It’s time for a break up” on my friends FB news feed. I happen to love blogs and found myself clicking on everything I could reading your stuff. It’s great!
I concur with everything you mentioned up there. We do annoy each other at times & that feels funny to have to admit that. But man, it’s not all easy.
Some of the best advice we have receive with finances is to have our own “allowance” each month. We run on a cash system & each get anywhere from $20-$100/m (our budget has changed a handful of times with transition to new jobs & conquering debt). This money is the ONLY $ in our marriage that our spouse has no say about. (If its illegal, that would be a whole different convo 🙂 ) The reason why this is WONDERFUL for our marriage is the fact that I can grab lunch with girlfriends, buy a new CD, get my nails done, buy a new purse (even though i already have 12) and my husband can’t be angry. Because it is how I choose to spend my $$. Plus, he has NO doubt that it came from my allowance & that $ is already accounted for in our budget….so spend if you want or save it for something bigger. It eliminates those petty discussions on whether he thinks its necessary for me to get my toes done in the middle of winter when I wear boots all the time anyways. (classic example). He spends his on food with buddies or grabbing a beer, playing pool with friends, new clothes (that aren’t necessarily needed).
It has been wonderful for us. Helped us personally manage our $ better. Makes us more aware of what we are spending. And really, being on a budget gives you SO much more FREEDOM because you know you can spend the money in that certain category.
Hope this helps you or others! 🙂
Amen to selfishness, Ruthie! It is at the top of the list for sure. I think when you get married and live with someone (in that order ahem), you suddenly have this mirror being held up to you that you didn’t have before. That person is to know you better than anyone else- the good, bad, and selfishness. 🙂
One thing our officiant told us before we got married was to never really fight/argue/disagree/passionately discuss past 10pm. Honestly, nothing good can come from it. When it is well into the night, most likely neither of us know what we are fighting about anymore and it is just spiraling. For us, it is SO TRUE! If we’re tired, it’s a mess.
Thanks for posting such great stuff!!
I love the 10pm rule! We now have a ‘rule’ that we don’t discuss anything serious or talk much before 8am. I am the worst in the morning & need at least 2 hours of awake Ruthie time before I’m good for anyone else:) It’s been fun to learn these things about each other (hard at times) as we grow in love. Thanks for commenting and reading!
Another great story…..but the cereal bowl !!!!! I would have told him to put his ear plugs in….as I do not like to eat out of plastic ware :)……2 rooms away……what hearing he has eh????? If this is the only thing that you do to irrate him, he’s lucky…….
haha, I know:) Just a small example of how we ‘annoy’ each other!
The best advice we ever got came from some newly married friends and I try to pass it along to every couple I counsel: Don’t fight about money. Once it’s spent, it’s spent. You’re in it together. Figure it out.
We’ve done our best to follow that advice and after being married for almost a decade I see the wisdom in it.
I love that advice, Shannon! Money is such a tricky topic, but we’re learning slowly how to see it as God’s and hold it with open hands.
great list Ruthie. I concur with all of it. Learning to quickly forgive an offense and move on is a learned thing. We’re trying to become better at that too. It’s hard to focus on your own shortcomings and not point the finger at your spouse. Just to be blunt, 🙂 I would say your sex life is a huge contributor to the health of your marriage. Sometimes a lack of sex irritates other parts of the marriage-finances, in-law discussions, cereal bowl preferences 🙂 My father shockingly and proudly wrote (on a wedding card to us) “give it to him as often as he wants it, honey”. Sometimes obedience precedes joy but joy is ALWAYS the result of obedience. Love lots! 🙂
Interesting perspective, Danelle. I agree if there is one area that is difficult, then it can have a domino effect in other areas of your marriage. Thanks for sharing!