We could still see the venue in our rearview mirror when I started crying.
It was the happiest day of my life. The weather was beautiful and our vendors were amazing. The Holy Spirit showed up during our ceremony, and our loved ones partied hard during the reception. But before the last of the sparklers even died out, I was an emotional mess.
I'm not ready for intimacy. I'm not ready to move. What if I'm not a good wife? What if we want to kill each other once we're living together?
My sweet husband looked at me, clearly alarmed. I tried to get out words between my sobs but couldn't find them. I learned my first marriage lesson only four hours in.
1. Instagram is pretty, but marriage gets messy.
If you looked at my social media feed back in January, you'd have no idea I was an emotional wreck on our wedding night and honeymoon. I don't think that's a bad thing. Stunting on the 'gram isn't inherently wrong, but I worry that painting a tidy, perfect picture of marriage gives people false expectations. I felt so guilty for feeling anything but joy right after my wedding, but when I talked to my married friends, I found I wasn't the only one!
Vagner makes me laugh more than anyone. He surprises me with flowers and fancy dates and has a knack for writing love letters, but our marriage isn't all perfectly edited VSCO squares. We've fought, we've cried, we've fallen asleep hurt and confused. Through it all, we've been covered by grace, and Jesus has shown Himself good. But it has been hard work, y'all! Don't let social media leave you longing for marriage when us married folks aren't always fully transparent about how much sacrifice it requires.
2. Getting married won't solve your problems.
This one should be obvious, right? There's no quick fix when you're walking through deep struggles. It takes a lot of prayer and a lot of processing. Still, I thought that marrying the love of my life would heal my self-esteem issues. I just knew that if I always had Vagner around, anxiety would have to leave.
If anything, being married to Vagner has forced me to confront a lot of heart issues that I ignored before. When two became one, we agreed to carry each other burdens. No more suffering in silence—I tell Vagner nearly everything, and we often spend the hours before bed discussing our deepest fears and desires.
While marriage has enriched my life like nothing else, it hasn't completely erased all of my problems. I know Vagner can say the same. This marriage journey isn't about finding our purpose in each other. Rather, we find our purpose in the Father and love each other out of the overflow of that.
And for the last tip, I'll let my dear husband share his top lesson.
3. Saying "No" Is More Important Than Saying "Yes."
Several times in the past year, I've been invited to hang out with friends or volunteer for events. I'm a people-pleaser, so I'm inclined to always say yes if I have free time.
I quickly learned that the health of our marriage lies in my response to these seemingly small things. Ayana and I have no days off in common, so the time we have together is treasured. I started telling people, "No, I need to spend some quality time with my wife."
When I say I'll be home by a certain time, I strive to meet that. Not because she's controlling or because we don't have our own lives, but it's one way to show her that I value our relationship over everything else.