Part 1: Justin’s Perspective
Welcome to THE LIST! It is a list of things I wish I’d known before I got married, but it is by no means exhaustive. My wife, Trisha, will be sharing hers tomorrow, but today you have me. If you are engaged or newly married, and have some eye-openers yourself, please feel free to keep the conversation rolling by sharing them in the comment area below.
1. Above All, Marriage is Spiritual
This is an understatement. My relationship with God is the fuel that drives our marriage and our family. When my relationship with God is running on fumes, our marriage suffers. Not only that, the relationship that Trisha and I have isn’t just a civil contract…it is a spiritual relationship that has been ordained by God, set apart and designed to make two individuals one. There is also a spiritual battle that rages against our marriage. We have an Enemy that attacks our marriage every single day. It is so easy for me to focus on earthly things and forget about the forces that are trying to pull my wife and me apart.
2. I’m Bringing Baggage into This Marriage
The way I was raised created baggage. The relationships I had in high school and college created baggage. The sexual abuse I experienced as a kid created baggage. The pornography I was exposed to, and made a habit, created baggage. My insecurity and my fears created baggage. You can’t wish baggage away. You can pretend it isn’t there, because it doesn’t go anywhere…it just gets bigger. I wish I would have acknowledged it, shared it, and gotten help for it before we got married. My wife would have married a much more healthy, whole man than she did.
3. Avoiding Conflict Isn’t the Same as Resolving Conflict
Somehow, I equated “no conflict” with intimacy. So if I could get through a day, week, weekend without an argument, then our marriage must be doing well. I cheated our marriage out of years of growing closer together by avoiding conflict rather than embracing it and resolving it. So often in our marriage, God uses conflict to expose problems, bring light into weak areas, and illuminate areas that we need to address. Avoiding those things for the sake of peace doesn’t help us…it dwarfs our ability to be known and loved. I wish I would have known this before we got married.
4. Marriage Counseling Isn’t a Sign of Weakness
I lost count of how many times Trisha asked me to go to marriage counseling. We would be arguing about the same thing over and over again, and she would say, “Let’s talk to Mark and Rhonda about this.” Mark was the pastor I worked for, and I wanted Mark to think I had it all together. I didn’t want him to know how bad of a husband I was. I didn’t want him to think I needed help. To me, getting marriage help was a sign of weakness, not strength. Man, was I wrong. Seeking marriage counseling isn’t a sign of weakness; it is a sign of humility and teachability. My arrogance and pride put me on the path of infidelity that nearly destroyed our marriage (see my bio below).
5. Trisha Will Love Me Even When I’m Ugly
There were so many times that I felt prompted to share my struggles, my weaknesses, my temptations, and sins with Trisha. But I would think to myself, “If she knows this about me, she will never love me.” So I did my best to hide the ugliness that resided in my heart. You can hide for a while, but eventually ugliness of heart always makes its way to the surface. I wish I would have believed the vows that Trisha made to me on our wedding day: “For better or for worse; for richer or for poorer…until death do us part.” When ugliness is confessed and confronted, God has a way of transforming it into something beautiful and redeeming.
These are my top five. What would you add to the list?