Ornaments, Candles, Tees and More! Order Soon for Christmas Delivery!🎄 ➔

How do you know when you’re ready for marriage? Is it based on age, financial stability, or when one is ready to be selfless? A new study came out that says adulthood doesn’t begin at 18 or 21. It starts at 30. Thirty! And I couldn’t agree more. 

I was 24 when we got married, my husband, Jason, was 25. It was our first time moving away from home and during our first month of marriage, we totally forgot to pay our rent for our apartment. We were living more like college kids with newfound freedom than a set of responsible Mr & Mrs. Our version of love and romance was mostly based on our favorite shows where conflict was usually resolved in the one-hour timeslot. We said our I Dos but didn’t have any clue really what this lifetime commitment had in store. So now, when newlyweds ask me for any advice, here are the top three things I share.

1. It’s not  a 50/50 deal.

“Marriage is a compromise,” they say. “It’s all about meeting halfway.” Not. Halfway is 50/50, which means you do just half of your part in the relationship. The minute you start thinking like this, you and your spouse end up doing “just enough” for the other. It’s more about 80/20 or 70/30—you being the higher number. So when we started to think of doing more for the other, the other naturally reciprocates that type of selfless acts. It’s helped me to think of what more can I do for him, than keeping a list of what he hasn’t done for me. Such a game changer. I can’t change him, but I can surely change me.

2. “In sickness and in health,” isn’t just about the typical cold and flu.

Getting married in our mid-20s, I thought that line “in sickness and in health” meant as we were getting old and gray. In our case, it was more like the age of 27. After experiencing the sudden miscarriage of our first pregnancy of identical twin boys at five months in the womb, my body was in shock and my heart numb with grief. About nine months later, we would receive another curveball. It’s never a good sign when your doctor says “I hope you have good insurance because it’s going to be a long road ahead.” Sitting in his cardiologist’s office, Jason was told he had cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart. Jason was 28, a basketball player, a non-smoker, a non-drinker, with no previous history of heart disease in his family. “In sickness and in health,” I whispered to myself as I sat there, now six months pregnant on our second pregnancy. The next eight years was a long road indeed filled with constant prayers. It meant dozens of hospital stays, tons of medical procedures, and near-death moments which later resulted in a heart transplant, all the while raising two young kids. On some days it felt like we were on a nauseating rollercoaster ride that had no end.

Then just when we thought the ride had stabilized, another drop. About three years ago, Jason’s kidney began to fail. And as God’s grace would have it, we had the same blood type and I was his match. In October 2016, we were literally joined as one. I gave him a life-saving gift: my left kidney. The doctor said I had man-sized kidneys for a petite woman, which was perfect for Jason’s body. Coincidence or God’s design? God is indeed the best matchmaker. Chronic or terminal illness can come at any time in a marriage, no matter how young or how healthy you may be today. And that line in “in sickness and in health” is no joke and will test you like you wouldn’t believe but will also deepen your faith and trust in God like no other.

3. Our love for one another is not enough.

The Bible says the heart is deceitful. Emotions can fluctuate and change the same way the wind can suddenly change course. So if a marriage is simply focused on loving one another and pleasing one another, what happens when your spouse hurts or disappoints you? Jason and I eventually learned that our love for one another is not enough. It’s our constant love for God that saved our marriage. On many occasions when you’re so tempted to do what your heart wants to do out of hurt or disappointment, our love for God is what made us stop and think before making permanent decisions based on temporary feelings. “What will God think of me if I do this or that?” In all situations, it was our reverence and love for Him that kept us in line with His design for marriage. We know that as long as we please Him first, His blessing for our marriage is what will deliver and sustain us, teaching us how to dance in the rain, no matter what.

We celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary a few months ago. Our marriage still has challenges but our prayers are deeper and the rock we’re standing on, stronger. Marriage is hard, but so is life. We don’t get to choose how God will test us; our only choice is how we will react. So many couples try to do it all on their own, relying only on each other to complete them or to sustain them. We wouldn’t be here two decades later if that was our formula.

It takes three to make any marriage work—God must be the constant. His boundless capacity to get us through hard times is what has saved us.

These profound life lessons are what I will pass on to my kids when it’s their time to get married. And before they say “I do” I will remind them to turn the lights off, turn the TV off and to remember to pay their rent.

Marriage takes work. Thankfully, there’s an app that can help! Lasting—the nation’s #1 relationship counseling app—provides accessible sessions designed to help you build a healthy marriage. Download and take Lasting’s free Relationship Health Assessment.

You may also like:

Marriage is Worth the Hard Parts

To My Husband: Thank You For Being A Great Man

9 Truths Newlyweds Should Know About Marriage

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Aliw Garcia Pablo

Aliw is a wife and mother of two teens. She is a kidney donor to her husband, Jason.  She is a  Supervising Producer at incmedia.org and has dedicated her life in telling meaningful stories on how God works in our lives.

We’re Modeling Marriage For Our Kids

In: Marriage
Husband and wife in workout clothes, color photo

This is eight years. A picture taken in the few minutes of pre-dawn quiet before toddler chaos ensues. A few moments of reflection that eight years ago, we chose each other to do this life with.  This day will not be like past anniversaries, or future anniversaries when we’re able to get away from it all and focus on just us. But it’s still our day to celebrate this life we have created together. This messy, crazy, busy, and wonderful life. When we sat in our Pre-Cana class all those years ago, we were asked to share what we believed...

Keep Reading

Blake Lively’s Tribute to Ryan Reynolds Has Us in Tears: “Daddy Always Comes Home”

In: Living, Marriage, News

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds are Hollywood couple #goals, and over the years, we’ve delighted in watching their fun, light-hearted, and endearing romance play out. What makes them so likable is that they genuinely seem to adore each other, but they’re not above trolling each other publicly and on social media, which almost always results in some hilarious antics. (P.S. Remember Reynolds’ hysterical ad that paid tribute to the dumpster fire that was 2020?) The couple has gone back and forth on Instagram and Twitter with jabs at each other’s acting roles . . . View this post on Instagram...

Keep Reading

My Husband’s Love Notes Are So Much More than Words

In: Marriage
Husband and wife, selfie, color photo

About 10 years ago, my husband used to travel frequently, and he would often leave notes for me to find around the house. Sometimes they were on the kitchen counter, sometimes they were on my car, other times they were scribbled across the bathroom mirror. RELATED: My Husband Doesn’t Tell Me He Loves Me on Facebook, He Shows Me His notes were different every time, but typically, they were meant to tell me how much he’d miss me when he was away. I would eventually file the notes away, often forgetting what they said, but always appreciating how he made...

Keep Reading

Planning for Life after Divorce Saved Our Marriage

In: Marriage
Couple walking down tracks in a tunnel

They say each marriage goes through seasons, and mine is currently in transition after a biting, years-long winter that neither of us could say with certainty would ever end. Each storm brought the same predictable pattern of conflict, and by the time we could shovel ourselves out, a new blizzard was already in the forecast. Our cycle of conflict was frozen on repeat, our patterns so deeply rutted, that salvation from the bitter cold felt impossible. He yelled at the sky. I went into hibernation. He chose fight. I chose flight. The problem with flight is that eventually, you have...

Keep Reading

Marriage is About Compromise, Not Sacrifice

In: Marriage
Husband and wife, smiling, color photo

This past August, my husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. There was no champagne, flowers, candy, or special date. In fact, it was just another Thursday, a pretty unremarkable day. The symbol for the 15th year of marriage is a crystal. A symbol of clarity and durability. A fitting representation in our case, if I may say so myself. Long gone are the days of courting and the need to put on a show. The need to impress one another long dissipated to be replaced by quiet contentment. Our relationship has evolved in the 20 years we have...

Keep Reading

Why Can’t Love Be Enough?

In: Living, Marriage
Couple sitting apart on couch

As we grow up, we experience all different types and versions of love, and in turn, we experience very different things when each of these relationships ends.  For me, as painful as they were, breakups were always relatively simple. Intentions were clear. Feelings were hurt. Betrayal. Lies. The love, gone. You know, the kind of breakups people always talk about. RELATED: Playing Chicken: A Marriage on the Brink of the End Young love. We were clueless. Some would say stupid. We thought we knew everything, but we really knew nothing at all. It hurt, unlike anything we’d ever experienced, because...

Keep Reading

Some Days I Miss My Old Life Before Kids

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Husband and wife in tropical destination, color photo

Some days I miss my old life. You know, before kids. I am not sure I am supposed to say that out loud. Please don’t judge me. I know I am not alone. Just because I miss my old life, does not mean I do not love my current one. However, confessing this kind of guilt is not easy, mostly because it opens the door for mom shaming, like so many other guilty mama confessions. A new mom recently confided in me. She said, “I knew about the sleepless nights, diapers, screaming babies, etc. But I had no idea that I...

Keep Reading

Our Love is Like the Best Country Song

In: Marriage
Husband and wife holding hands, color photo

I don’t write country music, in fact, I can’t even read music. But if I wrote a country song, it would say something about the sun dipping low over the cornfields on the way home from Nana’s house. It might mention how he always drives and always holds my hand over the center console. In fact, he always holds my hand, as we walk down our street behind our kids’ bicycles, under the covers, and in prayer each night.  I would write something about how gosh darn good he looks when he hasn’t shaved in six straight days. If I...

Keep Reading

My Husband Is the First Person I Want to Call

In: Marriage
Woman texting on phone

The first person I want to call is my husband. When I have good news. When I’m ridden with anxiety or frustration. When I’m giddy or over-the-top. When the kids are acting like dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. RELATED: To the Husband of the Overwhelmed Wife, She Needs a Hero When something has broken down (which usually means it’s a fire department day.) Yes, even when I’m mad at him. The first person I want to call is my husband. When I’m anxiously awaiting test results. When my kids do something amazing. When God reveals something new. When I see a...

Keep Reading

No One Prepares You for When Your Husband Has Cancer

In: Baby, Cancer, Marriage
Family sitting by window

No one ever prepares you for the moment you hear your spouse has cancer.   More so, no one prepares for you to hear this when you have a 5-month-old at home. “Mom, they said the tumor is cancerous, and they need to enucleate his eye on Thursday,” I say quietly into the phone as I pump in a dirty bathroom stall at the eye hospital.   Whir. Whir. Whir. Whir. Gosh, I hate pumping.  Today is my first day being away from my daughter. My mom is watching her while I made the trip to the eye hospital with...

Keep Reading