Today’s guest post is from Trisha Davis. Trisha and her husband Justin are the founders of RefineUs Ministries. They’re also the authors of Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enough. You can see Trisha and Justin live Oct. 11-13 at LifeWay’s Marriage Getaways event!
Justin and I got married the summer before his senior year in college. We were 21 and 20 years old, respectively. Four months after we got married, I got pregnant. We loved God and loved each other, so we thought our marriage would be amazing.
We didn’t know what we didn’t know about marriage. So today, I want to share with you five things I wish I knew before we got married.
We hope these things are helpful to you as you prepare for marriage or as you grow in your marriage.
1. Doing everything the “right way” in MY marriage won’t fix all the brokenness of my past.
As I mentioned, Justin and I married young. For the most part, we both grew up in homes (though sometimes dysfunctional) knowing that we were loved and that our parents loved each other. My parents separated two years after I got married and soon after divorced. It rocked the foundation of everything I knew marriage to be. I was naive of the real struggles my parents were facing and refused to come to terms with my own brokenness. This fueled a very unhealthy fire in me to do “everything right” in MY marriage so that NOTHING would go wrong.
2. Love is a choice; not a feeling.
Have you ever looked at an elderly couple that still hold hands and look upon your spouse with complete endearment and wonder, “How do I get that?” What I have learned is that love is not an emotion but rather a choice. Love is not about choosing each other but rather a daily choice to choose God. When I love Justin through my emotions and feelings alone, I am left most of the time disappointed. But when I choose to love God and allow the Holy Spirit to prompt me in how to love Justin, amazing intimacy takes place; the crazy kind of love that even in your old age makes you reach out for the hand of your spouse and with just a look communicates, “I love you.”
3. Physical intimacy WILL BE CONFUSING!
Regardless if you knew a lot about sex going into your marriage or not, it’s one of the most confusing parts of marriage. Sex is not just about attraction but also a deep spiritual connection like nothing else on the planet. It is as much a physical need as it is a spiritual need, so why is it so hard to completely understand? Why is it that one seems to long for sex way more than the other? Why is it that one seems to never long for it at all?
I wish I knew before Justin and I got married how a man’s body is designed — that sex is TRULY a physical need and not a selfish request. That sex is just as much about an emotional need as it is a physical need. But mostly I wish I understood the beauty and irreplaceable role sex plays in growing our marriage spiritually.
4. Doing it my way isn’t always the best way.
Our son Micah was born five days after our one-year anniversary. We were learning how to do life as a team of two and, before we could figure that out, we quickly became a team of three! We both took claim of different areas of our marriage and decided that MY WAY was the BEST WAY. For us, Justin held onto our finances with an iron fist, and I was that psycho baby momma that made sure Micah was taken care of the right way… MY WAY… at all times.
God has bought us together as a team and not as opposing sides. We learned to trust each other and accepted how we each went about daily life. So I may have chosen to change Micah’s diaper sooner than Justin thought too. And maybe I didn’t balance the checkbook in a timely fashion as he did. In the end, those small details didn’t matter! What matters is that we know that we are for each other and that we are always assuming the best of each other even when our best looks very different.
5. The difference between TRUST and FEAR.
Our story would lend one to think that I have a right to live in constant fear that Justin will have another affair. Or that Justin should fear that one day I would eventually leave him because of his choices. This type of fearful thinking is so destructive. Fear says that you will not survive the fall out of losing your spouse so live in suspicion so that you can catch him or her when she messes up.
I am fully aware that in trusting I’m being vulnerable to being hurt (again).
“I am for you” and “I am thinking the best of you”… not the worst.
I’m going to love my spouse with reckless abandonment just as Jesus did for me when he came as a baby and died on the cross.
I will love my spouse without fear but with hope that the Holy Spirit will guide me as to how to love my spouse.
“God I will love my spouse fearlessly thinking the best of them at all times,” and “If my spouse chooses to leave me, YOU will never leave me or forsake me.”
If you’re married, what would you add to this list?