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What I Wish I Had Known Before Marriage

4. Humility looks good on everyone.

In Colossians 3:12-14, Paul instructs God’s chosen ones to put on godly characteristics, such as patience and kindness. He includes humility on the list, and I agree completely! As followers of Christ, we need to be marked by humility, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5, James 4:6).

Before marriage, I never knew how important it would be for me to learn to be humble every day with Kristen. One of the most important phrases every married person needs to say is, (for example) “I’m sorry for getting frustrated earlier today. Will you forgive me for my lack of gentleness in our argument?”

For some reason, apologizing and asking for forgiveness with Kristen is one of the hardest things to do in my life. My friend often says when we need to apologize and ask for forgiveness, it’s like we have a mouth filled with rocks and we can’t get the words out!

I wish I had known how important humility is in marriage.

5. You need others (aka you’re not terminally unique).

Every newly married couple struggles in a few key areas: money, sex, communication, and family/in-laws. Some struggle more than others, but every couple will face challenges in these areas and many more.

I thought we were the only ones. Until I talked to other newlyweds and realized we were just like every other newly married couple in the history of the world! You will face challenges, but you’re not alone. And you need others to help you walk through the big and small challenges you face.

Proverbs 13:20 provides a promise and a warning to us: walk with the wise, and become wise. Hang out with fools, and you’ll suffer harm. Find some wise people to spend your time with. Learn from mentor couples, others who are further down the road, and even learn from the mistakes of divorced men and women.

We actually have done well in this area of our marriage. Kristen and I both benefitted greatly from community on both the single and married side of life. I include this one on the list because I’ve seen countless couples isolate, which often leads to a lifeless marriage or divorce down the road.

6. Marriage is much harder than I expected.

Many couples think if they’re both followers of Christ and chose to pursue each other with purity on the premarried side, that married life would be easy. We don’t remember or know the only promise about marriage in the whole Bible. In 1 Corinthians 7:28, the apostle Paul tells us if we do marry we will have trouble in this life. There are no promises for a lot of money, hours of daily communication, or mind-blowing intimacy. We’re not promised anything else in marriage—perfectly behaved kids, great in-laws, or similar preferences on how we spend time or money.

Rather, the only promise says that married couples will struggle. If you’re married and have challenges, you’re not alone. If you want to get married, don’t expect to marry the perfect spouse. The only Perfect One is Jesus, and He’s not available for marriage!

Married life is straight-up challenging. Not because of anything Kristen does, but because of what marriage forces you to deal with. I knew at times we’d struggle, but I had no idea how hard marriage would really be.

7. Marriage is much greater than I ever hoped for or dreamed about.

Many studies today report both declining marriage rates and older average ages for men and women to say ” I do.” More couples move in together and many choose to not even get married.

I believe part of the reason why so many young couples choose to cohabitate or push off marriage altogether is because all they ever hear about from married couples are the challenges husbands and wives face. We complain about the “old ball and chain” wife or the weak and passive husband. They see couples either divorce or live happily miserably ever after.

Married couples need to change their tune about marriage. I want you to hear how incredible it is to be married. If you’re not yet married (but hope to be), make sure you spend much more time growing in your relationship with Christ and preparing for marriage than planning your wedding day. Apart from trusting Jesus as your Savior, who you choose to marry will be the most significant decision you will ever make.

Aside from a relationship with Christ, marriage is the greatest thing going in my life. I wish I understood how true this would be before marriage. Choose wisely. You’ll be glad you did.

This article originally appeared here.