For the second summer in a row, our family spent a week at Pine Cove Woods Family Camp. And again, for the second summer in a row, we had an incredible time. We made great family memories, got loads of time together alone as a couple, and had fun relational time with other couples and families. And once again, we were encouraged and challenged by the servant-hearted, Christlike staff and students who consistently exemplified Mark 10:42-45 leadership.
Every day of camp includes teaching by a guest speaker. Bob & Carol Kraning (married 57 years!!!!) led our time together. One of their sessions featured “Five Things they would do differently if they started parenting all over again.” I couldn’t help but think of two similar posts related to our marriage. In this post I will share 5 Things Kristen and I would do differently if we started our marriage over today, and the next post will revolve around 5 Things Kristen and I starting doing from day one of our marriage and would recommend all couples do from the day they say “I do.”
5 Things We Would Do Differently in Our Marriage if we started over:
1. We Would Pray Together More Consistently
I shared about this one in a past post based on a sermon from JP. We celebrate 13 years of marriage in a few weeks and have struggled consistently to regularly pray together as a couple. If we were to start all over in marriage, we would pray together every night. It is much harder to add a new habit into your life and marriage rather than starting a habit from day one.
2. We Would Process the Big Decisions Differently
We would pray more consistently about big decisions. This is almost a corollary to point #1, but is really a different facet of prayer. Not only would we pray more often, we would also pray more about the big decisions in front of us. Since getting married, we have made many major decisions about job/career, homes, and children.
I was most convicted about this when we made the decision for Kristen to get her tubes tied after our fourth son was born (three pregnancies since we got 2-for-1 with the twins). Kristen’s OB/GYN recommended that she get her tubes tied after the third pregnancy, and we essentially agreed with her suggestion without even praying about it. While I am not certain we would have made a different decision, I do know that I wish we spent time praying and processing with each other and community before just blindly accepting the doctor’s advise.
3. We would be more physically active
No, not just the bedroom stuff… we would be more physically active (I.e. I would take better care of myself when it comes to physical wellness). As I have shared in the past, I struggle with eating and laziness. If we started marriage over, we would include physical activity as a regular activity/hobby in our marriage. We would bike and run together, take on more hobbies as a couple, and be more adventurous. Play is often undervalued in marriage. (Side Note: Check out the book Fun Loving You by Ted Cunningham)
4. We Would Deal With Our Baggage Sooner
We both brought a fair amount of baggage into marriage. All people do. It’s part of being a human being. We both went through our recovery ministry in 2007-08. Going through recovery was one of the best decisions we ever made together as a couple. I can’t begin to express how much the Lord changed our lives, hurts, habits, and addictions in Watermark’s 12-Step, Christ-centered recovery ministry.
While I am glad we both went through recovery, I wish we had done so sooner; like before we even got married! One of the best gifts you can give to your fiancé or spouse is the gift of working on your sins and struggles before getting married or as soon as possible after saying “I do.”
5. We Would Have Spent More Time in the Bible
Our lead pastor, Todd Wagner, often talks about the opportunity of spending more time in the Word while your schedule allows. Once married, with increased responsibilities in life and with kids, time seems to fade away faster and faster. Todd recommends spending as much time as possible in the Word as a single adult and as newlyweds. You will NEVER regret spending more time with the Lord in His Word (and in prayer), so start as soon as you can!
While Kristen and I both read God’s Word daily, there is no question that our time is much more limited now than it ever was before marriage and before kids. Take advantage of the time in front of you now to get to know God through His Word.
I am sure there are many more things we would do differently. As we approach 13 years of marriage, I know we are grateful we have taken ground in each of these areas, with much more ground to take in the future.
Stay tuned for Part 2: 5 Things We Are Glad We Started From Day One
How about you? What would you and your spouse do differently if you started over? What counsel/wisdom would you give to a premarried couple?