10 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Said 'I Do'


10 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Said 'I Do'
Life and love lessons from 25 years of marriage.

It was one hot day. I remember it well. Our wedding was in a small stone chapel in the mountains of North Carolina. The chapel is usually cool, and there is almost always a breeze. But that day, it was sweltering. And those windows that might have let in a breeze? My stylish mother-in-law matched the maids-of-honor dresses to the stain glass windows; they were shut tight. I later heard how many people found it sweet that I was "crying" through the service. I hated to disillusion everyone, but I was standing in a worsted wool tuxedo. My father was handing me a handkerchief, not to wipe away tears, but to wipe the sweat running down my face. Did I mention it was hot that day?

As with all weddings, that day was not without its events. The reception staff decided to strike that day. The wedding cake was slowly sliding into an avalanche, being one layer too high and in too-warm air for the icing to hold it. Still, at the end of the day, we were married. To me, that was all that mattered.


I do remember one vivid thought; "Was that it? Thirty minutes of a service, and I go from single to married? I don't feel different." I can't tell you what I expected to feel, only that I did not feel it. As I signed us into the hotel for the beginning of the honeymoon, I felt like a fraud pretending to be married. I had the ring on my finger and the signed license locked in our decorated car, but it just seemed a bit surreal. It seemed too easy, too simple. And I felt very uneducated about being married. Wasn't there some secret guide that should be given to the couple? Some inside secret on how to be married?

I did have great role models, with parents who love each other and many other successful couples in my life. But I guess I had hoped that the secret guide that would be handed to us would tell us how to make a successful marriage. Instead, there was a ceremony, a hug and kiss and off we went to build a life together.

Over 25 years have passed. We have stumbled and bumbled our way through, learning and growing along the way. Between us, we acquired another four graduate degrees, all in the area of human relationships and counseling. Yet, the training was about how to help other people, not so much about building our own relationship. We just got lots of "on the job training." Since both of us are trained therapists, people often have imagined what our marriage must be like. They imagine the two of us seeking to understand each other, both understanding the underlying dynamics between us. They somehow imagine it must be conflict and struggle-free. We laugh about that. It is one thing to dispassionately help other people to work through their difficulties. It is quite another to be the passionate ones in a relationship and in the midst of life.

As with all things, though, it is the struggles that teach the lessons. I have come to realize we only grow stronger when we take on the difficulties and learn how to be better people (and better spouses) because of the difficult moments, not by avoiding them. Along the way, I learned some lessons. I wish I had known them that hot day in August. If only I knew these lessons when I said "I do."

More marriage advice on YourTango:

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr. Lee H. Baucom

Life Coach

(coming soon)

Location: Louisville, KY
Credentials: PhD
Specialties: Divorce/Divorce Prevention, Marriage, Wellness
Other Articles/News by Dr. Lee H. Baucom:

The Ghosts of Relationship Past


The bed was cold that night, the distance between them more emotional than physical.  Both were feigning sleep, trying not to let on that their minds were both working on the same issue:  their marriage.  What had happened?  So many promises.  So many dreams.  Over the years, the promises were lost to missed opportunities.  ... Read more

Two Crucial Feelings In A Marriage -- Do You Feel Them?


There are two essential feelings necessary for a marriage to thrive or even survive. Notice that  I said "feelings," not emotions. I think that word better describes what I am trying to communicate:  someone can feel a certain way. While it ties into an emotional response, it is still different. I note these feelings for you as a way of ... Read more

Spring Has Sprung: Why It's Time To 'Water' Your Marriage


I am no green thumb. I can readily kill anything I plant. Somehow, that gene missed me. My mother has always been great at growing green things. She can get a shoot of something off the side of the road and have it quickly be a thriving plant in her yard. The difference between us is apparent to me: She loves it and I, however, do not. Don't get me ... Read more

See More

Latest Expert Videos
Must-see Videos
Most Popular