There are few people that really know what they’re getting into when it comes to getting married. I was one of those people. I mean, we all have an idea of what marriage is all about. We have hopes, dreams, and expectations of what it will look like. We watch movies, idolize TV shows, and even observe marriages in the world around us to try and get a glimpse of this thing we call holy matrimony. But we don’t really know until we’re there, do we?

There are some things about marriage that I understood going into it, but there are so many things that I could have never imagined. And to this day, there is still so much that I’m learning. I write about this concept in my new book, True Love Dates, specifically regarding the things marriage can’t do. But marriage can also do a lot. Here are some of the things I’m learning about it.

1. Marriage is more intimate than sex. I think one of the first things singles think about when it comes to marriage is sex. In our society, sex is portrayed as the mark of intimacy within a relationship. While there is so much value and closeness within the sexual relationship, a good marriage is what makes for good sex, not the other way around. Before marriage, I don’t think I grasped the real intimacy that comes with committing to this one person for the rest of my life. Within marriage, is the amazing opportunity to allow another person a look inside your life, your mind, your heart, and your very soul. Now that, is true intimacy.

2. Marriage reveals selfishness, but can cultivate selflessness. I knew I had the ability to be selfish, but I didn’t know I actually was selfish, until I got oh…about 6 months into my marriage (probably more like 6 hours, but I’m being generous). From the silly moments of choosing where to eat and who get’s the remote, to the more significant things like apologizing and putting his needs before mine– you learn that true selflessness is something that has to be lived out. It’s a hard lesson that has stretched my spiritual life more than anything else ever could- and through that, a beautiful reminder of a God who selflessly gave His all for me. I’m learning to be more like Him through this part of my marriage.

3. Oneness literally means…one. We all think of the deep spiritual and physical benefits of oneness, but do we ever consider these things: One house. One bed. One bathroom. One mirror above the bathroom sink. One bank account. One budget. In marriage, you relearn the preschool lesson of “sharing,” but you learn it in a very non-preschool kind of way. You learn to let go of the mine and yours mentality, because in marriage, everything is truly ours. There’s something really hard, but something really beautiful about that. It’s a reminder that at the end of the day what’s mine is yours…but everything we have, is actually His.

4. At some point, you will be disappointed. I know, this one was a hard reality. I’m not sure why I didn’t really believe it would happen. I am fully aware of my and my husband’s humanity. But for some reason this truth doesn’t really hit home- until it actually hits home. My husband and I have loved each other deeply, but we’ve also hurt each other deeply. When you allow someone to bury their heart in yours, there’s no doubt that one day, you will feel an ache. Whether In the form of an unkind word, a thoughtless action, or a selfish moment, marriage will hurt. But by God’s grace, each wound paves the way for grace, forgiveness, and restoration. Each wound is a reminder of our need to love better and to love deeper.