Secrets of a Newlywed: Who's At the Center of Your Marriage?

This is the next post in Secrets of a Newlywed, a series where I and a handful of other bloggers open up and share some of the lessons, insights and understandings—the little secrets—that have strengthened our marriages. (To read through all the posts in this series, click here.)

Today, I am happy to share this guest post from Rachel Parker: Who's at the Center of Your Marriage?

I didn’t grow up caring about weddings or even wanting to get married, so the hubbub around getting engaged was something I didn’t quite understand until my three year relationship turned into a four-month engagement. Suddenly there were all of these lists that needed to be checked and ten versions of the color white. And the more I thought about a wedding, the more I felt like Carrie Bradshaw planning her wedding to Mr. Big—too much focus on the wedding and not enough on the marriage.

So we ended up eloping over a long weekend tucked between writing essays for graduate school and tutoring students on their writing. Instead of a lavish ceremony, our wedding was a small moment of looking forward and seeing a future filled with happiness and love and hope—a deliberate pause to celebrate the things we saw and still see for our future together.

Even though we had a long relationship before getting married, we soon found out that marriage itself can be hard and complicated. This isn’t to say that marriage isn’t filled with happy moments, but marriage is not a bridge to immediate happiness. You don’t cross the threshold and immediately become the happiest version of yourself for the rest of your life.

Or at least that didn’t happen for us. The happiness of our wedding day gave way to the tensions of graduate school for me and the boredom of a customer service job for my husband, and rather than taking advantage of the few hours we had together each week we would argue about nothing or get annoyed with each other because we were so used to being apart. Focusing so much on our separate lives meant, well, that we were living separate lives.

After a year of frustration, we began questioning what was happening in our relationship. And then we both realized we were doing this marriage thing all wrong.

We built our marriage on the idea that being married would lead to personal happiness, but that foundation was shaky, uneven, and breaking already under the stress of daily life. We wanted God to be the center of our marriage, but we were leading lives centered on personal pride and strung together by rings.

Recognizing the level our pride had reached was enough to open up a conversation about how to create a stronger marriage that would glorify God rather than disappoint Him. We began reading and talking about examples of marriage—models from the Bible and from our lives that we want to someday be like. We created a family mission statement that articulates the qualities that are important to us and the vision we have for our family. We began to make an effort to spend more time together, to concentrate less on school and work, and to work harder to see each other through God’s eyes rather than our own flawed, judgmental eyes.

This is the point where I say everything is perfect now, right? It isn’t. We wrestle with the same problems now as we did early in our relationship precisely because these problems are just symptoms of the larger issue: our pride. But we’re wrestling that pride now, not just living with it.

What we’ve learned, I guess, is that when you make room for God in your marriage and treat it with the respect and the love God demands then the struggle is not only worth it, but impossible to walk away from. Because you’re fighting for someone more important than yourself.

Rachel Parker recently graduated with a MA in English. She currently lives with her husband of two years in a college town in North Carolina and spends her free time writing about food and life at Eat and Write.

If you are interested in sharing a lesson from your own marriage, please get in touch for details about guest-posting in this series!

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  1. Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to write about this, Carmen!

  2. @ Rachel - Thank YOU for writing it for the series. I am so glad you did and appreciate that you were willing to share it with all of us!

  3. loved reading this. especially that last paragraph. this is something my husband and i are really working on right now - making sure we're keeping God at the center of our marriage. because as life starts to get more and more hectic, it's so easy lose focus.

    thanks for the post. :)


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