Sunday night, Michael and I took a pot of chili over to our pre-marital 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!) and 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 and honestly without worrying about judgment.
David asked us, “What has surprised you most in marriage?” and I sat down this morning to reflect on his question more and 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 and 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 and 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 and a last name.
Forgiveness. I was clueless about the importance of 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 and 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 and 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 and 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?
Originally posted January 18, 2012.