Dear Mercy,

Isn’t love beautiful? Just the other day, we were praying because you were afraid that you had missed your deadline; terrified that the battery on your ticking clock would run out before the right person came along. And now, in just a few days, you’re going to be a bride.

One of the most beautiful things about relationships is that they grow. You’ve gone through defining seasons that have demonstrated progress, established strength, and bonded you and Jude to each other like nothing else can. As you walk into this new union, you might be thinking that you’re getting married to someone you know inside out, and that there’s nothing more to find out. The truth is actually the opposite; through the years, you and Jude will discover and rediscover the depths of each other. You’ll each undergo changes as you grow older and wiser, and you’ll have to “relearn” each other. Going into this expecting not to learn any lessons is setting yourself up for serious disillusionment.

Mercy, I’m sure that while you were courting, you heard about and experienced many relationship firsts: the first hello, date, kiss, “I love you,” celebration, introduction as a couple. Marriage will have its beautiful firsts, too, and the best way to be prepared for them is to know that they’re coming. Here are ten wonderful milestones to expect:

1. First time.

I am glad that you saved yourself for your husband. Ideally, he is the first person you should have sex with, and the first time you should do it is after you are married to him. However, life is not perfect; we all have pasts. I would not condemn you or expect you to beat yourself up if you had a less-than-ideal sexual past. Nobody has the right to make a bride feel any less beautiful or that her night is any less special. It’s still your first night with your husband, as his wife, and that is a treasure. Because the wedding night can be one of the most exhausting nights of a woman’s life, you and Jude might not even “get down” that night. Still, be three things: hopeful, realistic, and prepared. Have three things: counsel, communication, and confidence. Out of the billions of people in the whole wide world, you have chosen each other. You will be alone, together, with God, in this moment. You’ve waited 28 years for it. Cherish it.

2. First introduction.

During your honeymoon, as you check in at the hotel reception, and after it, when you return to the hustle, bustle and routine of real life, there will be times when you get to say or write your new name. It’ll be exciting to start writing Mercy M., and then remember that you are actually Mercy B. now. You’ll likely remember the first time your husband introduces you as “My wife” and the first few times you say “My husband.” As the years go by, should the fabric of your marriage ever begin to get frayed, it is memories like these that will help save it. Cherish them.

3. First home.

From the hunt to the selection and the decorating, your first home will remain etched in your memory for life. Deciding where you will live is significant for both of you. Whether it’s the basement of Jude’s parents’ townhouse, a room in the middle of nowhere, or a cute apartment, you will always remember the details of this major symbol of two lives becoming one. Enjoy it all.

4. First in-law visit.

You might get nervous the first – or every – time the in-laws are coming over. It’ll be worse if they go African on you and give you just a few hours’ notice. You’ll feel pressured to impress. Even if you know them and are close to them, having them in your space – the place where their son or brother is living – will be a unique experience. You’ll want to demonstrate that it is a haven and not a concentration camp. Relax. You’ll have married the guy, right? You’ll have nothing to prove. You’ll do fine.

5. First reality check.

Pretty soon, you’ll realize that you’re both not superheroes. Your flaws will be so much more visible to each other. You’ll realize that it’s not a holiday. You might even feel stuck, because this is not dating. There’s no exit. No fire escape. There’s a spiritual lock that is firmly in place and you know that what Jesus shuts cannot be opened. Whatever you encounter, you must overcome or endure. You signed up to put in 100/100, not 50/50. A wise woman builds her home (Prov 14:1). Like one pastor said, your husband needed help, and you signed up to work. Don’t let this make you cry. Rejoice. Remember the days when you prayed to be stuck to a man for life.

6. First fight.

I’m sure you’ve fought. But in a marriage, it will be slightly different. It might happen on your honeymoon or within the first week. Do not feel like a failure if it does. Humble yourself and apologize. Talk it out. Remember that there can never be a fight where there is no pride (Prov. 13:10, Jas. 4:1). Find out what makes each of you moody, and learn to manage that, because the enemy will try to maximize it. Sometimes, what seems like a major catastrophe could just be crankiness from a hectic day, hunger, or hormones.

7. First child.

While the first home is your first married experience going into something together, your first child is probably your first real experience growing into and overseeing something together. It might feel like you have two children, because having a child is likely to take a toll on your husband, and this will in turn take a toll on you. You will no longer be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. You will no longer be able to focus all your attention on each other. Remember, when this time comes, that children are a blessing from God, and that there is never any excuse to dishonor your husband. Let your goal of raising your children in God bond your family together. Your children will be fully dependent on you to teach them how to make it in this world. Time flies, and before you know it, you’ll be wistfully helping adults move out, wondering where the years went. Love your children.

8. First anniversary.

This is the day when your husband will officially have permission from God to “be sent to war and have any other duty laid on him.” One year on, you’ll see how important it was that you took the time to get to know each other and bring happiness to each other. You’ll probably realize that the whole “two-year honeymoon” phase is not necessarily true. It is unlikely that it will be an entire, 24/7 honeymoon. But hopefully, you’ll love each other 365 times more than you did on the day you said your vows.

9. First crisis.

It will come. Because you are human, because this world is less than perfect, and because God loves you, you will both have to endure something together. A friend of mine was kind enough to list some of these things for me: Couples have had to struggle through and conquer illnesses, money woes, infidelity, infertility, miscarriages, bereavement. It might be a family member or friend going out of his or her way to make things difficult for you. Know when to fight and when to stand still. Constantly assure each other that you are one; that you are on the same team. And win. It might seem like it should be the opposite way, but every trial makes the next one more conquerable.

10. First seven years.

It is said that the first seen years are the most fragile in any marriage. I believe every year should be treated as fragile. By this I mean at no time should you ever take your marriage for granted. I do know, and I am sure that you do as well, that you are more than a conqueror in God. You can make it. You WILL make it, and every year will be sweeter than the last.

Happy married life, and enjoy the milestones. Be sure to set a stone of remembrance for each.

You are beautiful.

Love,

Pea.

mile·stone [mahyl-stohn]
noun
2.a significant event or stage in the life, progress, development, or the like of a person, nation, etc.
– dictionary.com

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