faith, marriage

6 Things We Did Wrong When We First Got Married

If you follow my blog you may have noticed that I am posting late. I usually post on Sunday and Wednesday, but I missed last Sunday due to an allergic reaction. I could barely walk and talk let alone write anything. A few days later, and I am feeling a bit better but not 100%. One day at a time. In the meantime, here’s the post that should have been posted Sunday.

6 Things We Did Wrong When We First Got Married:

1) We made idols out of each other.

Even the very best husband makes a very lousy god.

We made the mistake of thinking that the other person could be our rock, our stronghold, our anchor.

Only God can truly be that.

I remember the pastor mentioning this in our marriage counseling –mentioning that this was not uncommon, but that we needed to watch for it and correct it.

We didn’t correct it for a long time, and it led to problems of feeling disappointed or even abandoned when we found that the other person had let us down.

Neither of us is perfect so even if we have the best of intentions, eventually, we will let the other one down.

In our premarital counseling, the pastor said that in the beginning of the marriage, it’s like all you can see is each other: you’re standing there holding both hands, only seeing the person you love.

But as you grow, you should turn and start walking toward God together.

I have found that this analogy is somewhat true but that sometimes walking together is difficult because you’re walking at different paces –it’s rare to find a couple who is walking at the same pace toward God.

If we make our spouse into an idol, we put the person on a pedestal.

And then they do what people on pedestals always do.

They fall off.

The only person who will never disappoint us is Jesus, so we need our confidence, our stability, our strength wrapped up in who He is –not what our spouse is or what we wish they would be.

2) We stayed up late fighting when we should have gone to bed.

The Bible verse that says “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26) is using an analogy which basically means “Don’t wait too long to resolve your issues.”

It doesn’t literally mean that you’re in sin if you go to bed instead of staying up until 4 AM arguing.

Oftentimes –for us anyway– the lateness only added to the problem.

If it’s midnight, the sun has already gone down: deal with it tomorrow when you’re not exhausted and when you can be more clear-headed about it.

Not feeling like we had to deal with it tonight has helped.

We still try to not let anger stew and become bitterness –because leaving stewing anger unaddressed will become bitterness– but dealing with it right now instead of waiting to cool off often opens a whole different can of worms.

The concept is still true: don’t let too much time pass before you deal with your anger.

But, I don’t feel pressure to deal with anger in an unhealthy way or deal with it when I cannot be calm and will only make the situation worse.

Often times, if I need to discuss something with Scott, I’ll write everything I’m upset about on a sheet of paper and then throw it away before I address the issue with him. I try to only bring up the big issue, not all the little stuff.

You can see the method I use in this post about Prayermapping.

3) We expected ourselves and each other to be perfect.

I have written extensively about this idea of the spouse living up to your expectations.

See: The Myth of a Perfect Husband

We often expect our spouses to not only be perfect but to never make a mistake and to always do what we would do or what we would want them to do.

Almost like we want someone who can read our minds.

We erroneously believe the myth that the other person is supposed to “make us whole” as opposed to the idea that marriage is supposed to make us more holy and mature in Christ.

Not even Jesus always did what those around Him wanted –and He actually was perfect.

Scott thought I would be steady and reliable like his mom; I thought he’d be outgoing like my dad.

Neither of us is those things naturally.

While I can improve my management skills somewhat, I cannot change how I’m wired; he isn’t going to suddenly be outgoing.

In fact, the things that drew me to him are directly connected to how he’s wired and why he’s not outgoing.

It just took me a while to understand that and to accept that he wasn’t like me, that he wasn’t going to change to meet my ideal, and that it was okay if he didn’t.

A key for us was understanding and accepting each other’s idiosyncrasies.

This is not the same as ignoring actual sin.

Learning to distinguish between sin and non-sin issues is important.

See more about that in this post about Judgements.

Learning to let myself be less than perfect — giving up my ideal of what I thought I should be– was even harder for me than letting him be himself.

I still have a view of who I wish I could and would be that I have to daily surrender to God.

He’s the Potter who can do with me as He pleases.

His vision of who I should be is way more important than my own.

4) We failed to forgive.

I’m not sure that we failed to do this as much as it took us a long time to learn it.

Forgiveness is important.

Holding on to every little issue and rehashing it each time you have a disagreement is very destructive.

We made an agreement that we wouldn’t dig up old issues and throw them back in each other’s faces.

This has been huge!

I know people who have been married way longer than we have and every time they argue, they dredge up every disagreement and slight and use it as ammunition in the current battle –even stuff that happened decades ago.

That’s just so destructive.

See my series on Forgiveness.

5) We made personal issues into marriage issues.

Not every problem that my husband has is my problem.

It’s not always about me, nor is it my issue that I need to try to fix.

We did not agree on everything.

What he chooses to do in his spiritual walk is between him and God.

It is not about me even if affects me.

I’m not the Holy Spirit, and it’s not my job to be his conscience.

Now, at some point, the issue is big enough that it needs to be addressed, but many issues are not big issues.

So many times we’ve made personal struggles into issues in our marriage when really it was just part of the journey one or the other of us were on and part of the struggles we were going through as we matured and grew.

I’ve had to learn to let him have his struggles and not take it personally.

6. We fought against each other instead of for each other.

In the beginning, I had a me-versus-him mentality.

I wanted to get him to do things my way instead of being willing to find something that worked best for both of us.

I didn’t realize that if it was best for me but not best for him it still wasn’t good.

For instance, if I want to go to a party and want him to go with me, so I argue for that and win, but he goes begrudgingly and is miserable the whole time, who really won?

It may seem like I won, but did we win?

Is our relationship better for it?

We’re in this together.

I’m fighting for us –not just me.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t stand up for myself.

On the contrary, we are the best we can be when each is emotionally healthy and knows they’re loved and accepted unconditionally.

To maintain a healthy relationship, I must stand up for myself in truly important matters but let less important matters go.

If the bringing up the issue would cause more harm than good, I let it go.

I’m learning to fight for him.

Not against him.

I’m fighting for us.

I’m still learning what that means and how best to do that.


Sarah Forbes


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