Pajama pants on the floor. Toothpaste left in the bathroom sink. Muddy shoe prints on the freshly vacuumed carpet. The same Dr. Pepper can on the coffee table for three days running. When these small incidents start to bother you on a regular basis, you can bet the honeymoon is over! As a newlywed, I can safely say my husband and I are at that point. And it has only been nine months!

At first I thought something was wrong with us, or worse, that it was all my fault, and I wasn't the wife or woman I was supposed to be. After all, we had such a great start. A perfect send off, complete with a beautiful (if rather warm!) August wedding and a blissful honeymoon in beach paradise.

Our wedding ceremony wasn't without a few minor mishaps, but that just makes it more fun, right? So what if they played the wrong song during the lighting of the unity candle? Who cares that one side of the family wasn't speaking to each other at the time? And yes, we left our road map safely tucked away at the condo when we set off for home, but we found our way eventually! I knew those were all incidents that would continue to bond our new relationship together. So why aren't these new little incidents so laughable?

A Set-Up for Unrealistic Expectations

My husband and I were very blessed during our engagement period. Our church family and friends were so generous with wedding gifts and encouragement. We were the "sweet little engaged couple" that everyone wanted to help. Everything fell into place so quickly and simply. God even blessed us with a house, rather then having to start out in an apartment complex. It just doesn't get much better than that!

I suppose that is why in my mind, I imagined the time after the honeymoon to be just as smooth and easy. As they say, "after every wedding comes a marriage." Well, I had no idea just how right "they" were!

When you buy your marriage license at the courthouse they don't give you an instruction booklet titled How to Stay Married. There isn't a pamphlet or brochure with Ten Easy Steps to Avoid Separation. They simply take your cash and hand you a license while mumbling something like, "you only have thirty days to use it." Then they just chalk it up to, "well if this one doesn't work out, they'll be back to the Divorce Filings counter across the way."

I wanted more for my marriage then that. But the things that seem so simple in theory suddenly become much more complex when we're asked to live it out. I didn't count on having arguments two weeks after we came home from the honeymoon. I didn't realize that when my husband said, "I don't do laundry", he meant that he didn't do laundry! I'm sure he didn't really think my compulsive disorder for neatness would require cleanliness all the time -- or else! He also probably didn't realize that when I said, "I'm still learning how to cook," it meant dinner would be...interesting.

Love is a Choice...and a Gift from God

I'm beginning to realize that love is a choice. Sure, there were fireworks and sparks that started it all off, and they still reside in our marriage now. But as a married couple, we must choose to overlook those annoying little hang-ups. We all have them, and sometimes the hardest thing to do is avoid pointing them out to each other!

Think about it. We know we're not perfect already. Why cause an argument by stating the obvious? Instead, we can go to God for guidance and growth -- we can choose to invite Him into the center of our marriage. Only He can give us the supernatural patience needed to meld our two lives together. And He will also remind us that every day - no matter how imperfect - is a gift. It is time borrowed from God that can be blessed with little jewels of love if we simply look for the sparkle.

All the separation, affairs, and divorces in America today can make a newlywed couple a little anxious. At times, I get nervous and feel that if I don't living up to my husband's expectations then our marriage will become just another statistic. But God has shown me that while I am to strive to please my husband, it is much more important for me to strive to please my Lord. When you keep God in the center of your marriage, everything seems to fall into place a little more easily. Without question, there will still be hardships and struggles, but having God next to you in the middle of the drama makes it a little less threatening and a little more manageable.

Toilet paper on the roll the correct way. A freshly mown front lawn. Sweet messages written on the bathroom mirror. An open Bible on the bedside table. Those are all signs that I know we're going to be just fine.


Betsy St. Amant resides in northern Louisiana with her newly wed husband, Brandon. She is currently attending Louisiana Baptist University with a major in Christian Communications and is actively pursuing a career in inspirational writing. You can contact her at Angelkiss216@bellsouth.net.