5 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Got Married


When I was first married, my husband and I made many mistakes that ultimately made our marriage very messy from the start. As many of you know, I’ve chronicled many of the messes we’ve made over the 25 years of our marriage here on this blog.

But today I want to focus on the positive side of those messes in this ever-popular wedding month. So for all those who are getting married, newly married or simply feel stuck in the messiest of years, here are some of the tips and insights I wish I’d known when I first got married …

  1. If you are so tired that you can’t think straight to discuss a matter calmly and respectfully, then by all means, do “let the sun go down on your anger” for that one night. The point of this biblical command is to not let our anger go unchecked, unconfessed and unaddressed with our mates. Just be sure to deal with it respectfully and prayerfully in the morning after a good night’s sleep!
  2. Apologizing is not to be based upon the rationale that he/she should do it first because he/she was the first to offend. Instead, if you want to be the “first to be responsible and loving,” then be the first to apologize.
  3. Look to God to fill your cup for satisfaction and comfort. Expecting your spouse to “fill” that cup will only lead to frustration and greater thirst.
  4. When in conflict, make your goal listening to understand your mate rather than trying to be understood.
  5. If you want greater personal satisfaction in your marriage, then consider your marriage as sacred and to be protected above your own personal feelings. God uses the paradoxical “dying to self for the greater good” in powerful and healing ways in marriage.

Now, allow me to turn the platform over to all of you who’ve lived and learned through your own marriage messes. Please tell us at least one thing you wish you’d known when you were first married in the comment section below!

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  1. Beth,
    These 5 things you’ve shared with us are so wise and practical. I liked your point about waiting a little longer to dig into a discussion if you’re already tired – give it your besting the morning. I would add that I’ve learned to start to address problems in the earlier stages, since they only tend to get bigger with time!
    Thanks again for these great points!

  2. Your list is very true. Especially number #4. I would add as well that people change a lot and you need to be flexible with those changes. Our lives often end up differently than we originally dreamed they would be when we first got married. But God is not suprised by any of those changes. Growing in the midst of those changes and seeking after the dreams God has foryou will result in greater peace. Great post, as always!

  3. Well, first…I agree with your #1. Never ever try to discuss an important or potentially emotional issue at 10pm when you’re both crawling into bed either. I think my husband and I have to relearn that one about every other month or so.

    I would also say “Realize that different isn’t wrong unless different is sin”. Don’t battle the differences. Try to adapt, understand and appreciate them.

  4. Stacey Micklevitz says:

    Oh, Beth!! How I love this post!

    I am especially fond of points 1 and 3. Too many times I tried to avoid letting the sun set on our anger only to find myself bleary-eyed and punch-drunk, chasing rabbit trails in an attempt to make sense and stand my ground. Foolishness indeed! And, when I allow God to fill my cup, Bryan becomes the ice cube that causes the goodness in my life to overflow. It’s like God has filled my life with my needs and has allowed Bryan to be everything I will ever want!

    I’d like to add that it took us a while to understand that conflicts are simply conflicts …. NOT attacks or fights! When handled correctly and respectfully, even the most passionate of conflicts can be understood – sometimes even settled – without battle scars. Keeping perception in the right perspective allows both parties to realize that an attack on the ISSUE is not necessarily an attack on the person. Believing that we are both on the same team helps us to constructively work through conflicts. Easy to say, but it took us quite a while to learn and make such practice habit.

    Thanks for this great post!!! 🙂

  5. Ro elliott says:

    great list…# 3…I was like a leach sucking off my husband….I would tell young woman…know who you are in Christ…wrestle with God until you know…really know how much you are loved by Him…because if we don’t know that…any other kind of love will never be enough. great job…blessings to you~

  6. H Copple says:

    Nice post and reminder. I wish Scott and I had set up our rules for fighting sooner. We did a lot of damage to each other until we came up with those rules. We had so many other rules for other areas of our life together. It just never occurred to us to have rules for conflict (one area where we really needed the rules).

  7. Your list hit the nail on the head! It was funny as I started reading I was like oh #1 is my favorite, then when I got to the next I was like Oh #2 is the best, than at the next I was like oh #2 is SO good and then I realized each point was really soooo good.
    Thanks for sharing. I’ve been married for 9 years and still learning as I go along.
    Patty from http://www.fanta4two.com

  8. I had a typo – the last ‘#2’ should’ve been #3. The point being…as the list went on, I realized each point was incredible.

    Thanks again!!

  9. An Old Friend of Metro says:

    Emotions and feelings (both positive and negative) pop up in my psyche without my permission or control. For example, I have no control over the existence of a feeling of annoyance or irritation. That feeling of irritation (or any feeling) pops up unexpectedly and without warning. However, I am expected to have FULL control over my reactions to emotions and feelings. In other words, I can’t help if a feeling of irritation pops up, I can only control what I DO with this emotion in response to it after the fact of feeling it. Too often, my wife and I have had matches where both of are annoyed because the other one is annoyed. We were simply irritated at the basic existence of annoyance in the other person. We are learning that this is an unjustifed form of irritation to feel (i.e. being annoyed and hurt becasue the other person had an unexpected irritation or annoyance pop up in his/her heart). In both cases, however, neither of us could control the spontaneous existence of feeling irritated or hurt at the other…..we could only control what WE did with that emotion to show love, respect, and honor toward the other person.

    Short version: “You can’t control what feelings pop up in your heart, you can only control how you respond to them.”

  10. messymarriage says:

    Yes, Ann, you bring up another great issue–dealing with issues early. I thought about how important it is to have that continuing dialogue in marriage that keeps everything open and unified. So many couples don’t do this. They go into their little corner of the house and eventually grow apart through the years. Thanks so much for contributing and supporting me!

  11. messymarriage says:

    Yes, that’ so true, Christina. That’s why we need to find ways to stay connected throughout all the changes. And I love how you’re also bringing up another important aspect of marriage–acceptance. Thanks so much for coming by and putting your two cents worth in the discussion!

  12. messymarriage says:

    Yes, differences can draw us together and repel us, if we don’t keep our hearts always surrendered to God’s softening and grace. Thanks so much for your added words of wisdom, Elizabeth. They are cherished additions to our list!

  13. messymarriage says:

    God’s love for us can so easily be overlooked in this life. And for many, the reason they marry is to have someone to build their self-confidence. Yikes–what trouble that leads to! Thanks so much, Ro, for adding to the discussion with great words of advice!

  14. messymarriage says:

    Yeah, Gary and I did not have any “rules” either when we married. Of course, we might have had unspoken rules that we each brought from our parent’s home … BIG mistake! So glad that you and Scott figured this out and have a positive plan to follow. Great words of advice, Heather!

  15. messymarriage says:

    For some reason, Patty, I can’t see the first part of your comment here. I read it in my email, but not here. But I’m grateful that you found the post insightful and helpful. Thanks so much for stopping by and encouraging me!

  16. messymarriage says:

    Yes, that’s a biggie! We can’t always control our initial feelings, but we CAN control how we deal with them and how we treat our spouses. Great thought, OFOM! You’ve shared what is like the golden rule in counseling!

  17. messymarriage says:

    Great insight, Stacey! Yes, keeping the focus on “we’re on the same side” is often overlooked in marriages–especially when a friendly suggestion is made. That’s why I always think it’s also important to wrap our “suggestions” in the warmest, fuzziest, most loving blanket possible before handing it to our spouse. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom on the subject, Stacey!

  18. how odd! Glad you were at least able to read it in your email! You were an encouragement to me, today as well. 🙂

  19. soulstops says:

    Great list, Beth! hmm, what is one thing I wish I had known…we had a lot of good information beforehand, but I don’t think anyone really (or maybe, it was just me?) can understand how hard it can get sometimes, in the day to day, until they actually go through it…does that make sense? you know, when the rubber meets the road…

  20. I’ll have to remember these 5 points for when I am married. Very nice.

  21. Oh wow!!!! I am sharing this on my FB page. What a great post. The one that stood out to me most (and I say most, because all 5 points are beyond excellent) is “Expecting your spouse to “fill” that cup will only lead to frustration and greater thirst.” Hopping over from Playdates! Blessings from Zagreb. – A Little R & R http://jukiczr.blogspot.com

  22. Great advice!

  23. messymarriage says:

    Thanks so much for coming by! I’ll have to swing by your place too, Lyli! 🙂

  24. messymarriage says:

    I’m so grateful for your repost on FB, Zagreb! And yes, it’s so silly that we think our spouse’s can fill the void that only God can fill. When will we ever learn? I know, I still have to remind myself of this truth from time to time. Thanks again and I’ll swing by your place next!

  25. messymarriage says:

    Oh, an unmarried or premarried friend! Yay! I was hoping some of those single people out there would comment or come by! I hope that these help you, Iris, as you face the challenges and joys of marriage!

  26. messymarriage says:

    Yes, that totally makes sense, Dolly. We do get bogged down when we live with someone–facing the ordinary struggles and stressors of life. We have to be prepared to turn our hearts continually over to God for His grace to fill those gaps that life leaves in our hearts and minds. Thanks so much for coming by, weighing in and replying to my tweet! 🙂

  27. Such good advice, Beth. After VBS last week, I particularly endorse number one :). Bless you for this ministry and the many ways you share.

  28. messymarriage says:

    Oh boy! I can definitely give you an amen on that one during the week of VBS, Laura. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and for being the ever-hospitable host of Playdates!

  29. #1 is so very true. When in doubt about your ability to speak respectfully, sleep on it. 23 years later and I’m still working on this one! Thanks so much for sharing with us at NOBH. The younger sisters need to hear these lessons and older gals, need the reminder!

  30. wonderful! and i’d also add that oh, how i wish i knew the whole PURPOSE of marriage! that it doesn’t have to do about my happiness, but my holiness. glorifying God & being a picture of Gospel grace to the world. in other words, it’s not about me . . . it’s all about Him.

  31. messymarriage says:

    Yes! That’s a great one, Tanya! I can’t believe I left that one out! It’s so foundational. Thanks so much for your input and wise words!

  32. messymarriage says:

    Yes, Kelly, these insights are all from having been in the messy trenches of marriage for 25 plus years. I’m so grateful for the lessons God is teaching me and just want to pass them on to others. Thanks so much from coming by and encouraging me!