5 things I wish I’d known before I got married.

5 things I wish I’d known before I got married. January 30, 2014

When Ashley and I walked down the aisle almost thirteen years ago, we had no idea what we were getting into! We were young and clueless, but we were in love and we figured that our enthusiasm and optimism would be enough to get us through the challenges of life. We soon learned that we were very unprepared!

Don’t get me wrong, Ashley and I have an amazing marriage, but we’ve also had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way. As I reflect back on the journey up to this point, I wish that I could climb in a time machine and tell myself some important lessons on my wedding day. Since I don’t have a time machine, I’m hoping that other folks will be able to learn from my mistakes and put these principles into practice from the very beginning of their marriage.

Dave and Ashley Willis dancing

Ashley and I dancing at our recent iVow Marriage Retreat. She’s a MUCH better dancer than me! 🙂

Below are 5 truths I wish I’d known before we got married. For additional marriage-building tools, subscribe to our email list at the top of this page and check out our new video series for married couples, “Best Sex Life Now” by clicking here. 

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1. You need a financial plan.

In the beginning, we didn’t have any money, so we naively assumed that we didn’t have a need for a plan for our money. Our lack of financial sense and discipline causes us to dig ourselves into a hole of debt in those early years and it created years of unnecessary stress as we dug our way back out. Start out with a plan. There are some great resources to help you at DaveRamsey.com

2. You need to communicate about everything.

When you go from being single to being married, it’s easy to forget that now, your time, your money and your decisions all impact someone else. A lack of communication in those early days caused some hurt feelings and unnecessary strain. We’ve learned there’s no such thing as too much communication in marriage.

3. You need a strong community around you.

When we were starting out, we thought that all we needed was each other. It’s a sweet thought, but it’s completely impractical. We discovered the truth that we needed a community of faithful friends, wise mentors and the support of healthy church family. Now we are very intentional about seeking out and investing into these relationships.

4. You can’t change each other.

You each are going to have some quirks and habits that your spouse isn’t going to understand, but there’s no need to attempt to change each other. You’ll both end up frustrated if you try! Celebrate your differences. Marriage is about loving your spouse; not changing your spouse.

5. You should have fun!

This is one we did pretty well even from the beginning. Fun usually doesn’t happen by accident. You need to be intentional about making the most out of every moment God has given you. Make it your mission to fill your home and your marriage with love and laughter.

For more marriage-building tips and tools, please watch our video on The 4 Pillars of a Strong Marriage and check out our newest book Marriage Minute: Quick & Simple Ways to Build a Divorce-Proof Relationship.


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  • Esther wango

    Great writer you are God bless you

  • Anna Megan

    This is a great post. Being young, excited and engaged myself, this is very encouraging. While I know there is only so much I can prepare for before I get married, these are definitely some great insights. I appreciate your wisdom- thank you!

  • keoshante

    This is a really awesome post among many more but my fiance and i are pretty young but just like you said we are very happy and optimistic about our engagement and cant wait to be married and almost everything you post about marriage i read because its very important to me to be the best wife i can be. Thank you im so glad that i subscribed to your sight i feel like this is going ti help my soon to be marriage A LOT. I pray God continues to bless you and your marriage keep the great posts coming looking forward to them. Also what love about these posts is that you put a bible verse to go along and not just from your opinion. Thanks

  • Yannick Momo

    Thank you so much… I needed this to restart my marriage at fresh.

  • This is a great post! We recently married on the 8th of February and are now living together. Boy is it different! It’s incredible, amazing, fun and exciting but a little hard too! We’re in the process of our financial planning and going about setting routines (date nights, cleaning, etc.). I read this at just the right time – thank you!

    God bless

    Tarquin @ himherandthem.com

  • Love to here more.

  • #3 is spot-on. My wife and I learned first-hand that isolation can lead to failure. We struggled for so long to find a church that really valued community, until I had an affair and it really woke us up to our need for fellowship. Your marriage is not an island.

    We wrote about this on our blog recently, check it out:


  • Jerry Caliendo

    Also, never stop courting her. My wife have been married for 15 years now. She makes mention every now and then about how I would have done things differently back when we were dating. It makes me feel bad that she thinks I take our marriage and her for granted. I make it a point now for us to go out more without the kids and have an annual weekend getaway for our anniversary to celebrate each other without any distractions.

  • Janice

    This is great advice for everyone even for us with 56 years of marriage. Every day of our lives is a learning experience in our marriage. If you ever stop learning for a great marriage than you have stopped working at preserving that marriage. You have to put heart & soul into every day you are Blessed to having that Marriage. You never get too old to learn to love & build that strong faith that God puts out there for you & yours. God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for each and everyone of us and we must always be willing to build, completely give body & soul to that marriage. The more you give, the more you receive back from your spouse and together thank God & his son Jesus every day that you had that day together. God Bless you in your work!

  • jcow

    Oh, the financial plan… We’ve been married 24 years and have managed to build a solid financial foundation but only if we’d known then what we know now. Our oldest looks to be heading towards engagement and I’ll definitely share this post with him!