|My work as a seminary professor and local church pastor gives me numerous opportunities to spend time with newly-married couples. I almost always ask them, “What’s been the biggest surprise in marriage so far?” Here are some of their most common responses – which I include here to help us think about how we might shape our pre-marital counseling.
- “I didn’t realize how selfish I am.” It’s amazing how quickly and forcefully our selfishness comes to light when we begin sharing all of life with someone else (who, most often, loves us in ways that don’t seem to be selfish at all . . .).
- “It’s harder to live with somebody else than I thought it would be.” Apparently, the excitement of marriage gets tempered a bit when we share space, see one another at our worst, and adjust to another person’s idiosyncrasies and habits.
- “Money—particularly how we spend it and/or save it—can be a big deal.” Pre-marital counselors usually give us this warning, but it’s still different when we’re face-to-face with a spouse who’s worried about our finances.
- “Sex is only part of our life.” Most couples come to this recognition honestly; after all, all they’ve heard is a culture that increasingly suggests that everything is about sex.
- “It’s not always easy to figure out how to deal with families.” Just ask the young couple who’ve wrestled through the issues of where to spend each holiday, and you get the point.
- “I never realized how much my spouse is like her (or his) mother (or father).” You don’t really see these similar traits until you’re living with somebody, but they’re often decidedly apparent then.
- “We’ve found it hard to make time to pray together.” Even couples who make this commitment up-front (and, sometimes, who pray a lot during their dating stage) still struggle maintaining this pattern.
- “I had no idea how great marriage would be!” That’s what I want to hear, of course—and having God at the center of a new home is a great start.
What would you add to this list?