What Nobody Told Me About Marriage.

JCP_3638I mentioned yesterday that today would mark four months of marriage for Kellan and I. Four months of Are you really eating Chinese food for breakfast? ARE YOU REALLY SPEAKING TO ME BEFORE I’VE HAD COFFEE? Four months of honey, I think the edge of that forty pound mirror needs to come up juuuuust ¼ inch. Thankssomuch. Four months of combined laundry, combined bank accounts and attempting to combine two wildly different lives into something altogether new. By leaps and bounds, it is the most grueling, painstaking, thrilling and rewarding thing that I have ever done.

Books and sermons about marriage spend copious amounts of time talking about needing to die to your sin. While I have found that to be painfully true, what I have found to be equally true is the need to die to my preferences. It’s the thing that nobody really tells you before you get married—that just as much as both you will have to die to your pride, you will have to die to what you want. In the battle of Saturday morning brunch eaters vs. Saturday morning ESPN watchers, you must both wave the white flag of surrender in loving deference to the other person. You’ll have to die to what you’d prefer to eat for dinner [steak again?], what you’d prefer to spend money on [this in spite of your wholehearted conviction that dollars put towards certain purchases would be put to better use sautéed in olive oil and served aside the aforementioned steak], and even how you would prefer to serve the other person. Sometimes the most loving thing I can do for my husband has nothing to do with a love letter or a glass of wine, and everything to do with the unglamorous work of scrubbing the toilet.

And just between us? I would prefer the wine.

Dying to your preferences does not come cheaply, or without pain. After four short months, I know next to nothing about marriage, but I am slowly learning what it means to die to what I want every evening as I watch Kellan walk through our front door after an exhausting day at the office. Understanding that come six o’clock I am like a golden retriever puppy that’s been locked up alone all day, instead of indulging his tired mind in a run or half an hour of ESPN he pulls me into his lap and asks me about my unremarkable day. Dying to his preferences. He gets that unloading the silverware tray in the dishwasher makes me want to stab a kitten, and so every night after dinner, the man that didn’t know how to clean a bathroom when we got married kicks me out of the kitchen and washes every single dish. Dying to his preferences. And this morning, my short on time, non-coffee-drinking husband woke me up with a steaming cup of caramel truffle coffee in my favorite blue mug, because he knew it would make my heart go pitter patter.

He was right.

Simply observing my husband die to himself and prefer me teaches me how to die to myself and prefer him. It’s something that I am exceptionally bad at, [because let’s face it, I generally believe that the things I like are far superior to the things everybody else likes!]—but slowly, slowly, I’m learning.


  1. Priscilla says:

    This is so sweet, Ashley! We love you both and are so happy y’all are married! Keep up the great writing and dying to yourselves as you continue to serve one another :)

  2. i like this. love you both.

  3. Marge Farmer says:

    Beautifully written and oh so true! Not what the secular world with it’s “me first” attitude tells you but what our Lord and Savior says…… You are wise to be learning this now….it does matter. We are still newlyweds
    after only 6 years of marriage…it doesn’t get easier but it is very much worth it!!!!

  4. It is very true what you said about learning to love the other person the way they want to be loved, not the way we want them to want to be loved. After three years of marriage, I am still miles away from living up to this (I think often because I try to change my habits on my own strength), but God is clearly working on both of us. My husband thrives on acts of service and words of encouragement. I prefer physical affection and quality time. At first, he tried to show me love by doing the dishes and I tried to show love by snuggling him. We both appreciated these acts from the other, but we were confused about why the other person did not immediately feel special from these acts. Two things have changed after three years of marriage. He still does the dishes quite often, and I am slowly learning to appreciate those clean dishes as an act of love from his heart, because I know that for him, that is his motivation. But also we both try to do the things that actually make the other person’s heart “pitter patter,” as you say. It’s a shift in both the way we give and in the way we receive/understand love. We have had some patchy months, but I can honestly say that after two years of dating and three years of marriage, we are more loving in action/choice and also I would say more in-love emotionally than ever before. (I know, I know, my reference to mushy gushy feelings as part of love makes many pastors cringe ;-) but I’m just telling it like it is right now – not saying it’s that way every month or always will be). I also think that some of the rougher patches are what have brought us to this sweet spot right now – sticking through it when the mushy gushy wasn’t there has made me value and praise God for what we have even more, such that the mushy gushy came back. :-)

    • Haha, learning to speak someone else’s love language is surprisingly difficult! No shockingly, I’m a words girl. I love writing Kellan notes telling him why I love him–…it took me two years to figure out that I could better spend that time finding something to DO for him. I’ll admit that I still write them sometimes–old habits die hard! :)

  5. Very wise.

    To love is to serve.

  6. Kristin says:

    That does it, I’m to selfish to ever marry.

  7. When we had our premarital counseling, our pastor told us : ““After the Fall, the first thing that was broken as a result of sin was the relationship between man and woman, husband and wife. Through a God-centered marriage, God is able to undo the Fall one couple at a time. Marriage is another model of redemption. Your job is to not get in the way of this redemptive work.” I try to remember this every time that I want to watch the Bachelorette and James wants to watch ANOTHER baseball game (who knew there were soooooo many every year???) or when I want more salad with goat cheese and he reminds me that he only eats cow lactate. Don’t want to get in the way of His redemptive work!

    • Haha, I love that! I’ve been trying to convert K to goat cheese since we got married…thus far, I’ve been largely unsuccessful. That is definitely a helpful way to look at marriage!

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