The Wet Cement Year

0091Deuteronomy 24: 5 says:

A newly married man must not be drafted into the army or be given any other responsibilities. He must be free to spend one year at home, bringing happiness to the wife he has married.”

I’m pretty sure this verse was spoken in the same breath that forbids eating pork and getting tattoos. And well, I ate bacon for breakfast, if that tells you how much I adhere to Old Testament Law. But just because I am free to eat bacon anytime I want, doesn’t change the fact that too much of it will turn my kidneys to hockey pucks. So what does this have to do with the first year of marriage?

When my husband, Clark and I were first married, we were given some valuable advice for what we affectionately call, the “wet cement” year:

A new marriage is like wet cement. There is no easier time in a marriage for a new couple to tend to their first ministry, their marriage, to establish healthy patterns and priorities in their relationship. Once the cement hardens, any attempts to go back and re-settle the foundation would require taking a jackhammer to years of patterns established by default rather than carefully thought out values. Therefore, don’t spend any nights apart and avoid making any big changes for the first year of marriage.

This was the single best marital advice we ever received!

We made a commitment to each other that we would “let our marriage simmer” for the first year. For two traveling musicians, a commitment to spend every night together for a year meant that we had to say no to a number of exciting and lucrative opportunities. We didn’t travel apart. We avoided any big unnecessary decisions {i.e. buying a house, changing jobs, or having a baby} if we could help it. We didn’t volunteer ourselves or take on any new leadership roles. For Heavens sake, we didn’t even move from my dinky little apartment that still smelled like my old roommate’s pet cat, Newman, because we didn’t want to put the stress of moving across town on our brand new union.

And so we simmered.

We said no. A lot. We disappointed a lot of people. We even had one friend tell us that we were running the risk of spending too much time together. Is that even possible? {He is now divorced which tells you how grateful we were to avoid that piece of advice.} About 6 months into our commitment, we were still simmering and still wreaking of Newman the cat when Clark was invited to play for the biggest tour of his career. Picture this… Clark is on the phone regretfully declining the offer as I’m using every possible charade gesture I could think of within his line of sight to say,

You idiot! Don’t blow this one!”

Some loving and submissive wife I was, huh? I knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime and that if he passed it up, something like this might never come along again. I reincarnated right there on the spot and began channeling the spirit of Eve, Jezebel, Delilah and every other home wrecking vixen you could think of. I did everything in my power to get him to reneg on our little “one-year” deal, but no amount of threatening or charades was going to get him to budge! He phoned the band leader back and said, “I know you don’t know me from Adam, but I’ve made a commitment to my wife that we weren’t going to travel apart for the first year.” I could never have anticipated what happened next. We were both picked up for the tour. Clark and I went on to enjoy 3 rich and rewarding years of ministry, travel, music, and people—and we got to do it together. We got to witness things in those first 3 years that we couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams.

That “wet-cement” decision is one that we have never looked back on with regret. Not only that, we have scraped the depths of our commitment to one another more than once, and we’ve leaned hard on all that we learned in those early days. We’ve taken some blows, but we’ve come out stronger and more grateful for each other because of it.

When it comes to the first year of marriage, I have to agree with Deuteronomy—feel free to stay home and make each other happy. When it comes to sporting head coverings or growing a beard, however, well now that’s a different story.


Salina is grateful to share her marriage story with Start Marriage Right. As a wife, a mother of three, and a singer, Salina offers a glimpse into life as a worship leader with her husband and an advocate for her son with Autism. She is passionate about encouraging dating, engaged, and newlywed couples. For a more in-depth look at her journey, visit

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