Four Things I Wish I’d Known When I Got Married

He was assigned to row 26 seat B and my ticket put me 6 rows behind him in 32D. We wanted to sit next to each other on the five-hour flight back to the mainland from Hawaii, so we waited in line at the ticket counter to see if that was a possibility.

A young honeymooning couple from Switzerland stood behind us for the same reason. The airline attendant shuffled computer numbers and told us we were all stuck in our assigned seats due to a full flight.

My husband shrugged a, “Well, we tried” and I said, “I’ll see you in 5 hours” and we made our way to separate rows. I put my bag under my seat and fastened my seat belt. I looked up to the aisle across from me and saw the separated honeymooners. The new bride was crying her eyes out, looking longingly at her new husband a row over. It was probably the first time in a week they’d been more than 6 feet from each other.

I smiled, not at her sorrow, but because I would have probably done the same thing 19 years ago this December. I smiled because I knew something she hadn’t discovered yet: separation makes being together even better.

I couldn’t help but remember coming home from my honeymoon so long ago.


Here are 4 things I wish I had known then:

  1. Marriage Doesn’t Complete You-I remember being a doe-eyed virgin thinking if I could just get married, I would be complete. People don’t complete people, no matter how many romantic movies try to prove otherwise.  Because it didn’t take long for those thoughts to transition to “if I could just be a mom.” God completes people. He fills in the gaps and heals the wounds that people leave. Marriage is amazing, but it’s imperfect and it wasn’t created to make us whole. If anything, it reveals our selfishness and brokenness. Only God completes us.
  2. You Can’t Give Too Much-For many years, I kept record. I reciprocated what was done for me. But once I realized the more you give in marriage, the more you get, it changed how I viewed my relationship with my husband. The union of two inherently selfish people produces a selfish marriage. But when we understand we can’t give too much, it not only makes us want to give more. It makes our union a selfless place of service and joy.
  3. He is Home, but He is not My Happily Ever After- We just have to watch a chick flick to believe that getting married puts you on the road to living a fairy tale. But that’s not true: because my husband and I get on each other’s nerves. And lo and behold, we disagree. We’ve learned while there isn’t really a permanent happily ever after, there is hard work and selfless love that leads to a beautiful journey of commitment and peace. Sometimes it’s hot, sometimes it’s not. Happiness is temporary, but the abiding joy that comes from faithful commitment is what it’s really about. And that feels like home.
  4. Marriage Gets Better With Age– I don’t have flat abs or the energy of a 20 year old. I’m over the hill and I would have never believed after nearly two decades my marriage would be the best it’s ever been-from communication to sex to our comfortable friendship. The act of becoming one takes years of selfless living and limitless forgiveness. We learn that occasional separation is good for us. Many marriages breakdown in the middle place, but if we can keep our holy commitment to each other and God, it just keeps getting better.

The new bride across the aisle wiped her eyes and wrote thank you notes for most of the remaining flight. She winked at her husband and got up to go to the bathroom so she could brush by him a couple of times. At the end of the flight, they clung to each other like they had been a part for five months.

I smiled her way. She was already learning.

Marriage can be amazing. Marriage can be hard. I’ve been thru both with my husband and sometimes life is the best lesson. Check out my new Marriage Resource Page to help with both seasons.


  1. 1


    I’ve been married 30 years and everything you’ve written is true. Hope you had a great time in Hawaii!! Great post…thank you for sharing and reminding me!

  2. 2


    Only been married seven years, but we just went on vacation “just the two of us” last week, the first since we had kids. As we walked around Charleston hand-in-hand, I couldn’t help but think back to our honeymoon (which was wonderful) and feel like I barely knew the man next to me back then! It does get better with time!

  3. 3


    You are very wise and it is a pleasure to see you share your wisdom here. I’ve been married for 34 years and can attest to everything you are saying. Thanks for a a great post. Well said.

  4. 5


    SO so true.
    My husband and I celebrate 16 years this weekend…we have been separated and brought back together by the hand of the Lord, and each lesson you shared here is right on track.
    Thank you for a wonderful post.
    Blessings to you,
    ~Heather @ The Welcoming House Blog

  5. 6

    Heather says

    Lovely piece. Made me smile at what my husband have and what we can look forward to. Thank you for again writing exactly what I am feeling! Praise God for all of the relationships we have here on earth.

  6. 8

    Nichole says

    I’m sitting in my hubby’s dental office with tears streaming down my cheeks and getting a few strange looks as I hear my husband tickling my 13 yr old trying to get him to open his mouth for freezing. Lol I so agree with you. We just spent 5 weeks apart while I went home to visit family and he stayed here to work. We’ve been married 20 yrs this year and I couldn’t be happier! Marriage is hard work and a lifetime of learning but it gets better every year! Thanks for a great post!

  7. 10

    christian says

    I disagree with #1.

    I’m an openly agnostic person and follow the conversations between theism and secularism and I am wholly familiar with probably all of the best arguments for and against the existence of God. All the way up to the latest and greatest science, the science of morality, along with the best of theistic and atheistic philosophers. I have had two preachers on two different sides of my family. Trust me, I. Get. It. and i know the bible, Jesus, and his preachments backwards and forwards. That said, I do not worship, nor do i pray and my life is wholly filled with plenitude, beauty, and love.

    I practice empathy, altruism, and make rightly sound moral decision on the regular, and do my best to do charity and help other when i can If God was simply the idea/belief that completed us, 90% of the people in jail wouldn’t be there. The fact is most of the people in jail and the politicians ruining and running this country identify as believers. Yet they are responsible for the majority of its downfall. I disagree with your position because there are huge swaths of our society that are wholly and spiritually fulfilled without a belief in God. You may not believe so, but i would invite you to look further into this. Live and love.

  8. 11

    Dawn Tuininga Rajala says

    I’ve only been married a year, but I’m looking forward to a weekend alone as my husband is away. I feel it’ll be good, but I’m already looking forward to his return! Haha. I loved what you had to say!

  9. 13


    Awesome words Kristen! I remember “getting” # 4 sometimes back – i had lots to overcome as newlywed, mostly mental stuff and i was pretty depressed, thinking ‘this is the way marriage will always be!”.

    but over time i’ve come to see that it REALLY does get better with age! and today is our 5th anniversary, still pretty young by any standards but done some good learning in the short years. thanks for the encouragement!

  10. 14


    I had to smile at this…I’ve been married 8 1/2 months now and tonight was supposed to be our first night to be apart, because I was supposed to be at a retreat for work. Two weeks ago the retreat was called off and my first thought was “YAY!! Now we don’t have to be apart!!” I admit if I were on the flight and had to be separated, I’d probably still cry the whole way home. Such a sap. We start the “I miss you’s” about 15 minutes after we leave for work in the morning and start the countdown to coming home sometime around lunch. I waited 34 years to find him, so I”m not ready for absence to make the heart grow fonder yet…but I’m glad to know if that day ever arrives, it’ll be okay!

  11. 16


    I have only been married a little over a year but I loved your post! I always enjoy reading about couples that have made marriage work, it seems to be rare these days. Blessings on your beautiful marriage!

  12. 18

    Sonya says

    Completely agree with all of them, but especially #1! That was one important thing I learned, even though it was a bit late. I was thankful that the next time I had the opportunity I made sure that I was happy just being where I was at even if I never married again before I even considered marriage again. I think that is hard one for both men and women to realize.

  13. 20


    Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images
    aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the
    same results.

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