Author: Pastor Lewis Hemphill Jr.
My amazing wife, Dana, and I are celebrating thirteen years of marriage. While this time frame is just a drop in the bucket for many, it’s a milestone that we were excited to reach. This journey has yielded many ups and downs, but our commitment to the covenant that we made with each other and with God is what has kept us together. I have learned many lessons from my mistakes over the last thirteen years, lessons that I wish I would have known prior to getting married. In honor of our thirteen years together I want to share seven principles that I wish I knew before I said I do. Prayerfully this will help you as you enter into marriage or strengthen the marriage that you are currently in.
1. I wish I knew…..The importance of pre-marital counseling When we got married I was 24 and she was 23. I was very ignorant of the tools that I needed which led me to believe that the secret to a successful marriage is love. The problem is you have to learn how to love a person in the way they need to be loved. Pre-marital counseling would have aided me in discovering how to love my spouse prior to the beginning of our journey. I truly believe that many of the problems that we suffered early on in our marriage could have been avoided or at least easily fixed had we went to pre-marital counseling and received the necessary tools. I wish I knew before I said I do.
2. I wish I knew…..My spiritual life was vital to the health of my marriage When my spiritual life is not maintained in the proper manner my marriage is affected. The restraint of my tongue is weakened. My patience and tolerance for human error and mistakes is shortened. The spirit of selfishness is very prevalent. Those are just a few of the damaging traits that surface when I’m not praying and spending time with God like I need to be. Allowing the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit (love, patience, longsuffering, gentleness, etc.) is very vital to having a satisfying marriage. It took years to realize there was a connection between a healthy spiritual life and a healthy marriage. I wish I knew before I said I do.
3. I wish I knew…..The power of praying together Praying together on our knees is very vital to the health of my marriage. Praying together as a couple unifies us in a way that no other spiritual discipline or Christian habit will. There’s no greater offense and defense for my marriage than praying together as one unit. Praying together gives us the confidence that we are both aligned and in tune with what God may be telling us about the direction of our life. I wish I knew before I said I do.
4. I wish I knew…..My spouse wasn’t my enemy Some people have the testimony that the early years of their marriage was blissful and they enjoyed a long lasting honeymoon hangover. My testimony is that the early years of my marriage were actually the most challenging for us. Our honeymoon literally lasted the duration of the seven day trip to St. Martin. Those years we were deceived to believe we were each other’s enemy. In essence, we weren’t enemies, we just needed to learn how to “become one”. The true enemy was Satan who wanted to tear up the very thing that God had put together. I wish I knew before I said I do.
5. I wish I knew…..The power of words I must confess I was a real jerk when it came to the sensitivity of my wife’s feelings in the early part of our marriage. I had that “I will not bite my tongue for anybody” attitude. Well, that attitude was counterproductive in my attempt to have a great marriage. My sarcasm would wound my wife and it would take time for her to heal. I didn’t understand how something as simple as words could impact my home for an entire week. I came to the conclusion that something was wrong with her when really the problem was me. I knew words were powerful tools of encouragement but I didn’t know they could be just as powerful in a destructive and demotivating manner as well. I wish I knew before I said I do.
6. I wish I knew…..different doesn’t mean wrong My wife and I are very different which I now know to be a compliment to each other. Early on in our marriage I found out she didn’t squeeze the tooth paste from the bottom, she leaves the fridge open when she pours her drink and she doesn’t put the lotion in the same spot every time after she uses it. The fact that she didn’t do those things like I did them meant something was wrong with her and she needed to be told the right way. I would cause fights because she didn’t do things my way. It took some times but I eventually learned that different doesn’t mean wrong. Different may seem weird but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I wish I knew before I said I do.
7. I wish I knew…..The destruction of pride As a man I was vicariously taught that I was the king of the jungle. What I didn’t receive was the fact that with a king of the jungle mentality comes a spirit of pride. Pride is unknowingly a wall that divides spouses. Pride caused me to avoid powerful and healing phrases such as “I’m sorry”, “I was wrong” and “You were right”. Pride caused me to initiate battles that were pointless and damaging. Pride is an enemy to intimacy and a tool of the Devil that was used in my marriage. I wish I knew before I said I do.
No marriage will ever be perfect but every marriage can be a better. I encourage you to strive for better and enjoy the marriage that God intended for you to have.