What I've Learned in My First Year of Marriage

Amber Ginter

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Updated Jul 01, 2024
What I've Learned in My First Year of Marriage

Jesus Christ is the greatest mind reader of all time, and still, communication is vital to my relationship with Him. Why would we expect our relationships with other humans to be any different?

July 3rd, 2024, marks my husband Ben's and my first year of marriage. Most people look forward to celebrating fireworks on the 4th, but the fireworks in our hearts began just a day earlier.

Ben and I dated for just over five years before we got married. In some ways, marriage has been exactly what I thought it would be. My husband is still the same person I married. Things that annoyed me while dating him still annoy me now. But I love the things I loved about him while we were dating even more now. I'm sure he could say the same about me.

In other veins, marriage has not been what I expected or anticipated. Most days, I find myself thinking, "How in the world do Mom and Grandma manage everything they do?" More often than not, I end my days pondering, "How will I ever get it all done with so much to do?"

While marriage has been a blend of what I've thought it would and wouldn't be, I can say with certainty that it's worth it. Every ounce of pain, tears, and conflict we've faced has been countered by immeasurable joy, love, and resolution. As our former pastor quoted in his charge to us the day we got married: "Marriage is a gift of God, given to comfort the sorrows of life and magnify the joys. Marriage is the clasping of hands, the blending of hearts, the union of two lives as one. Your marriage must stand on more than a piece of paper. It must stand in the strength of your love and by the power of your faith in one another and in God."

At the end of the charge, our pastor encouraged us to embrace three covenants of marriage: faith, hope, and love. Just as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13, the same charge should be applied to us today, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (v. 13, NIV).

As I reminisce over the the last year, and the lessons I've learned as a new wife, there are three things I'd like to share with you. Whether you're married, dating, single, or looking to grow in your faith, I hope these truths can serve as a source of encouragement and strength:

1. The Importance of Communication

Before Ben and I got married, numerous people told us to prioritize communication with our spouse to be, and with our Creator. The same is still true and applicable today. Marriage doesn’t change our need for interaction with others. In fact, some might say it exasperates it. 

Communication is an important factor in any relationship. This is why knowing how to talk to God and your spouse or significant other is so valuable. How we communicate also matters.

James 1:19 is a life verse we should all take heed of and apply to our lives in the way we interact with and speak to others: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (NIV). 

While this Scripture is much easier said than done, it’s a good goal to keep in mind. Christ reminds us to pursue excellence in all we do, and that extends into our speaking, listening, and talking skills (Philippians 4:8; Matthew 5:48). Surely, being patient, hearing to understand, and thinking before we respond are all habits we can pursue both inside the confines of marriage and out.

Proverbs 18:21 summarizes our key point best in these words: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (ESV).

Communication must be open, vulnerable, honest, and kind, but above all, it must be Christ-like. The reason communication is so detrimental to any relationship is because of the immense power and value the words we say and use hold. 

One of the biggest things I’ve learned this last year is the power of those words. My husband can’t read my mind, and I can’t read his. I get the assumption yours can’t follow suit either. Even couples who know one another best and have been together for decades will never get it all right. We’re not mind readers! But I believe God intentionally created us this way for a reason.

In May, I was going through a stressful time. I’d just resigned from teaching, had surgery, and attended my first writing conference. One evening in particular, I told my husband I was struggling to communicate with God and didn’t have the mental energy to pray or read my Bible. He told me that God still desired to hear from me that day. Then he asked me how I’d feel if he went an entire day without talking to me. Though I got offended at first and just wanted him to validate the exhaustion I was feeling, he had a point.

Even though God is God and already knows everything about me, He still wants me to talk to Him. He also still wants to hear from you! Jesus Christ is the greatest mind reader of all time, and still, communication is vital to my relationship with Him. Why would we expect our relationships with other humans to be any different?

2. The Value of Playfulness

About six months into marriage, I quickly realized our communication was improving, but our playfulness was dying. It wasn’t until we were in the middle of a Kroger run—the third time that month we were supposed to be on a date—that we discovered we were sacrificing date time for chores. Maybe you can relate?

Life is busy. Adulting is busy. Marriage is busy. No one ever said squashing two lives into one was easy or less busy. But learning to value and prioritize playfulness needs to fit into your busy schedule if you intend for your relationship to succeed and thrive!

In Ephesians 5, the roles of husbands and wives are discussed. One thing you may have never noticed, however, is that marriage is to be a source of life and joy—not life and joy to replace that which Christ gives, but to join with it in harmony.

Not only is playfulness a sign of a happy marriage, but it’s also a sign of a healthy, productive, and functioning one. Playfulness doesn’t mean being rude or insincere with our words. It also doesn’t mean forsaking responsibility for all fun and games. But godly playfulness takes delight in the gift of marriage that God has given us. 

Phylicia Masonheimer, author and theologian, describes playfulness in our relationship with God and our spouse this way: 

“What would it do to our relationship with God, viewing Him as playful? When I first considered this I was in the middle of my “flirtation experiment” with Josh. We were in a dry-ish season of marriage and I wanted to put some fun back into it. I made a list of 30 “flirtation” ideas and did one a day, recording my feelings and his response. One of my experiments was “playfulness”. I told jokes. I did a silly dance. I surprised him with water balloons after work. He was a little surprised at first. While I readily laugh at his jokes, I’m not the one to initiate silliness! But by making an effort in this area I noticed Josh’s joy increasing, his own readiness to make me laugh increasing, and – what surprised me most – my own love increasing. Laughing together, playing together, brought us closer together. I began to wonder: If I laughed with God... would I feel closer to Him? God is a spirit, not a human, so “laughing” with Him was very different from laughing with Josh. The very concept probably sounds abstract. But based on what Scripture says about God’s joy, I take for granted that the Lord wants to hear from me – in good or bad, joy or sorrow. I started sharing the things I found hilarious with the Lord. I would actually pray them to Him as if I was telling a friend.”

Though it’s a lengthy quote, I think Masonheimer hits the nail on the head when it comes to articulating our playfulness with our spouse and our Creator. 

3. The Priority of Christ

A little over five years ago, when Ben and I first started dating, I worried about prioritizing my relationship with Christ and a romantic relationship. The more I sought the Lord and His Word, however, I was affirmed of this truth: The greater I pursue Jesus, the more love I’ll have to lavish on another person. The less I pursue Him, the less I’ll have available to give. We cannot pour out love if we aren’t seeking Love Himself.

God is love,” is a common phrase found in both the Old and New Testament. It’s also something we should see in the 21st century as we continue to grow in our relationship with Him. 1 John 4:7-21, 1 John 4:16, 1 John 4:8, and Romans 5:5 are just a few examples. 

The longer I’m married, the more I see the importance of prioritizing Christ in my marriage. What does that practically look like? Ben and I are far from mastering this concept, but here are a few things we’ve found that work for us.

-Spend time reading the Bible, praying, and talking to God on your own, but also spend time doing those things as a couple. While this can sound overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Daily, I read the Word, pray, and talk to God, but weekly, Ben and I pray and study together. Sometimes we utilize a morning or evening devotional we can do on our own time and then regroup later because it works for our flexibility. Feel free to try out practices and see what works best for you.

-Go to church and small group together. It might sound obvious, but attending Church and fellowship outings as a couple not only helps us prioritize our relationship with God but one another. While it’s taken us time to get settled into a place we could call home or find people our age to study the Scriptures with, both have been well-worthy investments. If you’re struggling to find good options, don’t be afraid to look for online study groups, and try new places.

Pursuing Christ is the highest calling you'll ever receive, and it's only through and in that relationship you'll ever be able to successfully prioritize loving others. 

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from being married? What advice would you give someone who’s getting married or just got married? I encourage you to share those thoughts with someone you love today. I’m certainly not an expert, but I’m choosing to grow and learn along the way. 

Agape, Amber 

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Nadtochiy

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a teacher-turned-author who loves Jesus, her husband Ben, and granola. Growing up Amber looked for faith and mental health resources and found none. Today, she offers hope for young Christians struggling with mental illness that goes beyond simply reading your Bible and praying more. Because you can love Jesus and still suffer from anxiety. You can download her top faith and mental health resources for free to help navigate books, podcasts, videos, and influencers from a faith lens perspective. Visit her website at amberginter.com.