I got married for the first time at 20 years old. I was divorced before I was 21. I can remember my Pastor asking me during pre-marital counseling if I was absolutely sure. He had known me since I was a toddler and looking back now, I’m positive that he knew I was making a mistake. I looked him in the eye and answered that I was sure…even though if I had been honest with him and myself, I knew that it wasn’t going to last. Now at almost 33 years old now, there are days where I wish I could go back and talk to myself. Marriage is one of those things in life that you’re either successful at or you’re a huge failure at and honestly? Until I met Tom, I was a huge, epic, asteroid sized failure at it. These 5 things I wish I had known before I got married are what I would tell my 20 year old self if I could.
The thing is? Most of these are common sense, but they’re apparently common sense that some people (namely me) miss. Had I known and understood these lessons before I walked down the aisle at 20, I likely wouldn’t have been married multiple times. They say hindsight is 20/20 and I don’t care who you are, it’s very true. Sometimes we can overlook the simplest of ideas and for me, these were it.
Marriage takes Commitment – I’m not talking about the monogamous kind (although that is part of the package), I’m talking about a commitment to your spouse, your marriage and your own heart. If you go into this joining without that commitment, it just isn’t going to work. The same goes for your spouse. You both have to be committed to not only each other, but to having a successful marriage. Without that commitment, your marriage is very likely to end up in trouble.
Marriage is Work – Seriously. Going from only having to really be concerned about yourself to being concerned about two is work. The Bible talks about how when two are married, they are to become as one flesh (Gen. 2:24) and to do that, you have to work. Both spouses need to make sure that they’re working to make the marriage the best it can be because without that, there is no union…only 2 separate people.
Don’t jump – Don’t jump into this. You never truly know someone until you’ve got a ring on your finger so be sure that you spend as much time as possible getting to know the parts that you can, before that ring is there. Instead, take the time that both of you need to figure out whether you want to spend the rest of your life with this person. Remember that every new broom sweeps clean and that it’s very true for both sides.
Marriage should be for life – Be choosy about who you marry because marriage really should be for life. Divorce is kind of suckish and hurts so many more people than just you and your spouse. Most issues can be worked through if you’re willing to work on them. Instead of making divorce your first option, be choosy who you marry, make sure the love is real and decide from the start that you’re going to make this a successful marriage and union.
I made my mistakes and for the most part, I’ve left them behind me. I went into this marriage not only older, but with the experience of my failures behind me. Hopefully, my mistakes will help some of you if you’re just getting married or maybe even help reset your way of thinking if your marriage is currently in trouble.
As a final word though? While I would tell myself that marriage is for life? I absolutely do believe there are certain cases where divorce may be the only option. If you’re being abused, if your children are or if your partner has an addiction that they refuse help for, there really isn’t much else for you to do.
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