I know I can’t send a letter back to myself, but it is beneficial to reflect on all that I’ve learned in thirteen years of marriage. If I could write a letter to myself to read on my wedding day, it would read something like this:
Dear Younger Me,
It’s been over thirteen years since this beautiful wedding day and so much has changed. I know you’re excited about getting married. You’ve finally met a man who keeps God at the center of his life and wants to share that life with you.
He will be a good husband.
You will be a decent wife.
Neither of you will be perfect.
Here are a few things to keep in the back of your mind:
#1: He will change
Unexpectedly, dramatically, permanently.
There are two incidents that will change him completely, and it is going to break your heart. Since I’m writing this to you thirteen years in the future, be assured: He never stops loving you. Cling to that knowledge when you are tired and feel like the world is upside-down.
Research PTSD now—it will be helpful later. Don’t be anxious; with the Lord’s help, it will all be ok.
Pray for him. Daily. You have good intentions, but you will get caught up in kids, work, homeschooling, etcetera, and forget this important effort. Please—Pray for him.
Love him the way Christ loved you. It’s going to mean sacrifices—big, painful sacrifices. During the early years, this will seem like nothing. Your emotional high will last a long time, making the sacrifices seem lighter than they actually are. At some point, they will become far more significant and severe. Kill the temptation to resent him for what you will lose. Resentment chokes out Christ-like love.
See your husband through the eyes of our Heavenly Father, and you will love him more deeply than you do now.
Of course, even if you disregard this advice now, you’ll figure it out… Eventually.
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#2: You will change
Unexpectedly, dramatically, permanently.
Work on patience. You won’t understand the meaning of that word until you have children. They will refine you in ways you can’t imagine.
Exhaustion, coupled with stress, will create the perfect storm of frustration. Find an audio bible so you can listen to those life-giving words while cleaning and cooking. God’s word will keep your heart fixed on what is true, pure, and praiseworthy.
Even when you move to a hotter climate than Sacramento (sorry—it’s true!), keep exercising because it really does help alleviate stress and depression. You really can survive walking in 110 degrees.
One more thing—look into eating healthy fats! That anxiety you struggle with isn’t merely circumstantial; your diet is at least half the problem. All that low-fat food is messing with your head. Eat butter, ghee, coconut oil, and grass-fed meats. Ditch cereal and eat eggs for breakfast. It will make a huge difference. The nutrition community eventually catches up, but if you wait to start this until I did, you’ll still be ahead of them.
Lastly, don’t get too comfortable in your current job. Oh, and listen to your husband when he gives you advice about the aforementioned job; he reads people far better than you do. I highly recommend starting your own business. (I wish I had started sooner!)
#3: Hard Times are Coming
The first two years are going to be great, but the following ten… well…
I’d love to tell you to avoid certain things or make different choices, but frankly, these hard times are going to refine you to the glory of the Lord. Even with all this lovely hindsight, I hesitate to advise you against certain decisions. Only God could possibly know the outcome.
Get your focus centered on God. Now. Pray every day. Write your prayers down in a journal. Pray with your husband, placing every plan in front of the Lord instead of making decisions yourselves.
You are going to make some huge mistakes and the economy will only exacerbate them. You will go through some wild career changes, and they intensify the stress. Do not exclude your husband from financial decisions. Money matters are team matters; try doing it alone and it won’t work!
You are going to deal with loss, grief, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Take it all to the Counselor who doesn’t need insurance, co-pays, or appointments. God is always waiting for you to bring everything before His throne of grace.
#4: Keep God at the Center of your Cord
Dad makes a really good speech at the wedding. Actually, everybody makes good speeches. I still treasure every bit of advice. It’s going to be a beautiful day, filled with love from all the corners of your newly melded lives. In dad’s speech, he will use the following scripture from Ecclesiastes:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4.9-12)
The third fold in your cord is the Lord. Keep Him at the center and He will hold your marriage together even while every other force in the world schemes to rip it apart. With God at the center, you can stand together in the face of any storm.
This life is going to be tough, but God will see you through.
Remember: Love your spouse the way Jesus loved you.
See you in the mirror in thirteen years!
Your Future Self
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Elihu Anderson is a surviving California native currently thriving in West Texas. When she isn’t writing for Elihu’s Corner, she is teaching, researching, walking, and book-worming with a cup of chai. Visit Elihu at elihuscorner.com