Asher Witmer

rediscovering Jesus

Communication, Sex and Finances—Surprise, Surprise! 5 things nobody told me about marriage before I said “I do”

Today marks five years of marriage for my wife and I. It’s hard to believe! Couples married five years always seemed mature and settled into family life. I feel like we’re still trying to figure this thing out!


Standing on top of the Golkonda fortress in Hyderabad, India

Marriage has been incredible, really. I could not be any more blessed than I am with such a beautiful, godly wife.

But there have been a few surprises in marriage, the kind I wish someone had told me about before we said, “I do.” In some ways, it would have relieved us of a lot of pressure. In other ways, it would have helped me know what I need to be prepared for.

So, in the spirit of love and concern for all those who have yet to stand hand-in-hand at the altar of matrimony, let me share the five most jaw-dropping surprises I’ve faced in the first five years of marriage.

1. Communication is a BIG DEAL

People talked about the importance of communication in relationships, and sure enough, it’s really important! And, it’s not always the big emotional things that need communicated about. What surprised me were the little things, like scheduling expectations, relaying what others said, talking over the budget together, or what to do with a problematic child. These things eat us alive, if we’re not careful! We’re learning to vehemently guard time to connect about schedules as well as heart-things.

2. Finances really don’t have to be that hard

If you listen to Dave Ramsey, you get the feeling that finances will make or break your marriage. I suppose that’s his story, so there is merit to it. But what surprised me was how little finances affected our marriage. Sometimes, when we don’t have any money, I get stressed when we failed to record where it went because it feels like we’re just throwing it away. And me getting stressed doesn’t help anyone. But for the most part, we have had very little friction over finances.

To be honest, I think the deeper question we couples need to sort through when it comes to finances is whether we’re willing to let God take care of us, or if we’re going to try and control our lives. If we need money so we can have the latest toys and tools, clothes and cars, then we’re probably going to bump into a few more disagreements than when we live deeply grounded in the reality that what we have is God’s, and we’re only going to spend it on things we need and things that advance His glory.

3. The first night of sex doesn’t have to go perfectly

It just doesn’t. Part of the adventure of marriage is becoming one sexually, and it’s okay if it takes time. There was one point we seriously wondered if we’d ever get it right. Two weeks later we were pregnant. (I didn’t just say this online, did I?)

Sex is a sacred experience. I don’t mean to make light of it. But I do believe it’s a topic few know much about heading into marriage, and it surprised me (in a relieving sort of way) when I discovered it is normal to struggle, at times.

4. Watching my wife give birth is the most fascinating science lesson I’ve ever experienced

Yes! This surprised me! I’m not a science guy, and I was a little nervous when she first gave birth. But wow—it’s absolutely fascinating! I also kept scrunching and grunting whenever the nurse told her to push. I think for our third one, I’ll be a little more poised. But I am looking forward to the experience again.

And I say this in all respect and reverence for the pain and drama my wife goes through. If you’re concerned for my wife, just talk to her.

5. You can only parent well to the extent that you are willing to work through your own emotional wounds, voids, and insecurities

Parenting really does bring out the best, and the worst, in us. It’s full of surprises, and many of them melt my heart! But it has also shown me the importance of taking seriously my own emotional health.

What I do impulsively, what feels natural, normal and right, can actually sometimes be quite harmful. Maybe I struggle with anger, or maybe I just never contradict. Both are unhealthy and I’m learning that all of us, especially those of us who think we’re okay, need to set aside time to look inward and evaluate where we find security and self-worth, if we want to parent well.

Marriage is grand, and I’m looking forward to the next five years of life with my wife. But it’s not with surprises. These are five of the most jaw-dropping ones I’ve stumbled upon so far.

If you’re not married, I hope this can help you better prepare. If you are married, what surprises have you come across? Tell me about the in the comments below.

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About Asher Witmer

I am a son of God, husband, father, and difference maker. I love helping people sort through hard questions they face and rediscover Jesus. I have written three eBooks dealing with church frustrations, and send out daily posts addressing faith, church and relationships.

  • RLH

    What has surprised me is how quickly honesty received with full forgiveness can heal difficult places in marriage.

  • Michael

    All the differences between male and female! God planned it that way, but when she has sex at #50 on the list and I’m at #7, it’s interesting! 🙂 I’m only using sex as an example, it can be a number of other things.