I’m now 10 years into this crazy thing they call marriage, and it has been way harder and way more awesome than I ever imagined when I was fresh off saying “I do.” Looking back over the last decade, I have a thing or two to share with your naïve, confident and optimistic little self.
1) Live it up.
Everyone will tell you to enjoy the pre-kids phase of your newlywed years. You should believe them. You should believe them and heed their advice. No, really, you should believe them. My days of spur-of-the-moment dinners and late-night movies are long gone. Road trips for the fun of it. I don’t even know what that means. I actually spent last Friday night eating CiCis pizza and then mowing the yard. Super sexy and romantic, I know. So, seriously, live it up.
2) Save, baby, save.
I know. It seems like it’s the opposite of what I was just telling you. But seriously, newlywed self. You don’t even know what expenses are. Two incomes, cheap rent and ramen noodles. Give me a break. In ten years, your budget will have exploded with diapers, formula, karate lessons, health insurance and college funds. Good night, it will take nearly $20 just to get through the drive through. So take the advice of your elders and save, baby, save. You’ll thank me, ten years down the road.
3) You have a long way to go.
You are ready to conquer the world. You have it all figured out, or at least you think you do! But you have such a long way to go, newlywed. Embrace your naiveté and ask questions. Find mentors. Call your mom. Google it, if you have to. But know that there will always be ways to grow. Now, I’m worried about raising teenagers, paying for college, and my forties. Don’t be so quick to judge, newlywed, you have a lot to learn.
4) You’ll get better.
Living life together is a whole lot harder than the romantic notions on all of those wedding cards you just received at your bridal shower. And I’m not just talking about who does the dishes and which way the toilet paper roll hangs. Don’t worry, newlyweds, you’ll figure it out. You’ll get better at life. Just give it some time.
5) Marriage is awesome.
Marriage is one of the best things that will ever happen to you. You are about to embark on the greatest adventure of your life. Don’t worry that you are driving twenty-plus hours in the next two days to arrive at a place you had never heard of just three months ago. Don’t worry that everything you have to your name will fit in the back of your two-door used car. Don’t worry that you won’t know a soul except for the man sitting in the driver’s seat with whom you just exchanged rings less than 24 hours ago. Don’t worry. It will be awesome.
6) Marriage is hard.
Oh, newlywed self. Bless your heart. You’ve come into this sacred covenant with the darkest of rose-colored glasses on. You’ve barely experienced life on your own and now you are forever linked with this beautiful man who is, let’s be honest, a human. A human who makes mistakes, and who is messy and who is self-centered. And so are you. This thing called marriage is hard, as you will soon come to find out. But it is worth the effort, I promise.
7) Get serious.
Unfortunately, no one sat you down and talked about sticking to a budget or what size mortgage you can actually afford or that you are supposed to clean out the gutters once a year. There are a million other things that can and will try to knock you down. Adult life is serious stuff. So grow up and grow closer. Stick to your vows and cling to each other. By the grace of God, you will make your way.
8) Lighten up.
Wow. I have spent a lot of time stressed out about keeping a clean house, nap schedules and baby milestones. Take it from me, newlywed self. You need to lighten up. You’re not going to break that little bundle of joy that the crazy people at the hospital actually let you bring home 48 hours after he or she entered the world. Take a breath. Do the best that you can. You’ll laugh at all of this one day, I promise.
9) Put down some roots.
You’re young. You’re carefree. You want to explore the world and experience everything you can. I get it, newlywed self. But let me advise you, there is power and wisdom in settling down. After six years (and four moves and three jobs…), you’ll finally figure out what you want and what you feel God had called you to. I would encourage you, newlywed, to put down some roots along the way. Find a community of people with whom you can live life deeply. Commit to a job, a city, a career. You’ll be glad you did.
10) Dream big.
Just a few hours ago, you exchanged your self-written vows. Of course you wrote your own vows, you optimistic thing. You stood in front of so many who love you and you promised to dream big. Those dreams will take you to an orphanage in Guatemala, to the beautiful island of Kauai, and right here to the Rio Grande Valley, a place you will soon become proud to call home. And those dreams will take your journey on some unexpected turns. It’s a scary thing, newlywed self, but I challenge you to dream big. You have no idea where those dreams might lead you.
If you could, what would you tell your newlywed self?