If there's something Andrew and I have learned in the last 344 days of being married, it's how to cope under uncertain circumstances and handle change like champs. We've had our fair share of setbacks, letdowns, and disappointments, but we've also had a good measure--poured out and shaken down--of blessing. We've been faced with crisis and have hashed things out and still been able to look each other in the eye (just one) ;). So much of what we have dealt with has been a result of unmet expectations--about jobs, family, time commitments, household stuff, etcetera--everyone has a picture of "what it will be like when we're married", and inevitably, that picture may become a little blurred once the wedding bells ring. We've learned more about ourselves and each other and, the third entity in our relationship--our marriage itself--than we ever thought possible in a few weeks shy of a year. We've peeled back one tiny layer of what it means to actually serve our marriage, and laid a few bricks of the foundation of our union: forgiveness. You see, many unsuspecting newlyweds think that communication is the bedrock of a good marriage. You know, talking things out. While I'm definitely not discounting good conversation, I really believe in my heart of hearts that without forgiveness--real forgiveness--a marriage is doomed: not necessarily to divorce, but to bitterness, coldness, to ending up being more like business partners, or "ships passing in the night", instead of friends and lovers. So many arguments and altercations are the result of each person's individual unmet expectations, (as we've noticed), about an event or issue, not actually what was said or done in the situation--hence, forgiveness as the most necessary and stabilizing force in any marriage, days old or ripened with age.
I also think that "premarital counseling" as preparation for marriage is a ruse--a few meetings with a pastor aren't going to prepare you to absorb a whole 'nother person: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife; and they will become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) Last time I checked, 1+1≠1. But, that's why God's in the business of miracles. One of my goals for our marriage is that we attend some form of marriage counseling periodically through the years--even if we don't think we "need" it. That way, we at least have some perspective of what it's like to be married, instead of what it's like to dream about being married and in the meantime make a bazillion phone calls about wedding plans. :) And, just for good measure, I'm not saying that premarital counseling should be done away with entirely--everyone should be looked squarely in the face by a man of the cloth and told exactly what their getting into--however, I wish there was a "follow up" bit of sorts, like on your first three anniversaries or something. Anyway, a girl can dream.
That's my two cents, a few weeks premature of our first anniversary. It's ok, though. I'm not shy. So, take it or leave it. But if you take it, leave some for everyone else.
Post script: for some challenging, truthful, old school literature on marriage check out As For Me and My House by Walter Wangerin. CLUTCH.