Next week I’ll celebrate eight years of marriage with my husband. The one I prayed for every day since I was in the sixth grade. The one I gave an old shoe box full of letters I had written to him. The one I promised my life.
When our anniversary rolls around each year, I always think about how young and in love we were. I always think how we were so naïve to what marriage really was. How we had no idea what we were stepping into. How we did the whole premarital counseling thing, thought we understood the weight of our promises, and how we thought we knew one another. Every year I wish someone had told me the things I know now. But then again, these things were a part of our journey.
So this is to you, my newlywed self. With your tan lines and bright eyes. With your unwrapped wedding presents perfectly in their places, trying to make that new house a home. This is for you.
Dear Newlywed Self,
It might not have been the most talked about in the town, but your wedding was everything you dreamt it would be. Your family, your friends, your colors, your church, your Cinderella dress that your grandma made. But most of all that groom.
He was tall and slender and so handsome, standing hands crossed at the end of the isle. Tears streaming down his face and yours. That moment, of walking between the isles, like the way Abraham made a covenant with God, it was beautiful.
That song you wrote and surprised him with, it was from your heart, and you meant every word. I know it was precious to him. But that kiss, that first kiss, the one you waited on. It was holy.
I saw you close the door to that limo and cry your eyes out. You’re leaving your family. You’ll come back to a new home. Promising your life away to him, it’s a lot of emotions in one day.
You came back from the honeymoon a wife. And everyone stares a little at church, because they know what you did all week. And that’s okay. You, sweet girl, are just scraping the surface of knowing that man.
The first few weeks will be those of adjustment. He’ll throw his underwear here, and you’ll squeeze the toothpaste there. His mom had cleaned this way, your mom had cleaned that way. He’ll sleep with the TV on, you’ll sleep with it off. So you’ll meet in the middle on those things. Or he’ll give. Or you’ll give. But you’ll start to learn one another.
Then you’ll realize your time is not your own. Your money is not your own. Your space is not your own. Your body is not your own.
Then you’ll struggle finding the new you, the wife you. You’ll never expect your relationship with Jesus to change. But it does. Drastically. Because now you are one with him. And you’re all one together.
You’ll have your first married fight and will never know how someone could hurt you so deeply. You’ll never know those words will fly out of your mouth. You’ll never know you could hurt him so badly, and there will be no retrieving them. But then, after he has time to process and you wait patiently, forgiveness will cover you both like a warm, cozy, blanket. And you’ll learn a new way to serve him and a new way to communicate.
A time will come, if you’re really honest, when you’ll wonder if you can do this for the rest of your life. There will be days when loving him is more than butterflies, but a choice. It’s because of that covenant. You will have to choose him first, you are called by God to, but there will be lots of times you don’t.
But all this time, when you’re learning one another, hurting one another, forgiving one another, loving one another, the Father will be using you to love on him. You will be Jesus in the flesh, loving on His beloved. Showing him there is more to life with Christ than only church and songs. You’ll get the honor and the absolute privilege of loving his heart to look more like His Father’s. And then that same Father will take a man, your sweet man, and will bring healing to years of abuse from another. He’ll break through those walls, the ones no one had ever seen. He’ll break through the ones you kept hidden for so many years, not with force or selfishness, but with the utmost gentleness, love, and respect.
You will experience intimacy so sacred there is no other on this side of heaven. You will laugh and play and cook and dance and love so hard. You will cry, and hurt, and walk through really hard times together too. But he’s the only one you would ever want to have by your side.
And right when you feel like you have this marriage thing down pat, you’ll get that call about a little girl, your little girl. The little girl you both prayed for so long for. You will watch him grow from being a husband to a daddy, and right when you think you couldn’t love him more, he’ll throw that little girl in the air and call her a princess and you’ll think your heart will explode. Then a few years later a little boy will join your family. And footballs and wrestling will melt your heart like snow in spring.
Eight years later, you’ll know him. You’ll really know him, but not as much as you will next month, or in the next eight years. There’s always more. He’ll have so many layers and you will too. Time will change you, but you’ll find him to be even more lovely.
You might not know it now, but your marriage will be a threat to the enemy. Your destiny as one flesh working in the Kingdom is a force to be reckoned with. And the world is wishing you to fail. The evil one is fighting to take your covenant love down. It might look like bills, or schedules, or work, or fun, or communicating, or even sometimes children, but it’s him. And you have to see it.
Promise me you’ll see it.
When you see it, you can fight. And fight hard, wife. You pray. You pray covering over his eyes and heart. You pray covering over your emotions. You pray covering over your home and your children. You love hard. Even when he doesn’t. And he’ll love hard even when you don’t. But you have to fight. Because your marriage will put the Gospel on display and there is nothing more that the enemy hates.
Those times when you feel under attack, be proud. Because that means God is working and moving. He is using your marriage, your story, to further His Kingdom work. When you feel under attack, have sex. You make love as much as possible, because then you are one. Physically one. One with the Triune God. And there is no room for attacks there. Sex binds your marriage together. Use it as a weapon. A worshipful, secret, beautiful weapon.
Pretty soon eight years will pass and you’ll be terrified to leave your two young children to go to the Bahamas for your anniversary. But you’ll know, you’ve learned in those eight years, that you have always loved him first. And you’ll treasure those moments of only being husband and wife again. Those days will be days of favor on your marriage. Days of knowing him a little more and loving him more than you could ever dream.
And you’ll think back to those kids giving their lives away, not knowing the slightest of what they are getting themselves into, and you’ll be so thankful. Thankful for those years, thankful for the journey, but mostly thankful for him. The man he’s become. The man you dreamed of. The man you still want to hold you forever.
And you’ll be thankful for the One in the center.
The One making you one.