All throughout the engagement process, people have asked us how the wedding preparation is going, or given us tips to remember on our wedding day. However, I cannot recall anyone giving us advice on what to do once we are married nor a discussion about the early years of marriage.
Somewhere along the way, while I was surfing the internet, I stumbled upon Deuteronomy 24:5: “When a man is newly wed, he shall not go out on a military expedition, nor shall any duty be imposed on him. He shall be exempt for one year for the sake of his family, to bring joy to the wife he has married.” It was like God had sent me a giant neon sign and said Why don’t you consider this advice for marriage? I then found this article , which gave a couple’s account of their first year lived according to this Biblical principle.
As I began to reflect on my upcoming marriage, I realized that this time in our lives is a gift from the Lord so that He can mold us into the couple that He wants us to be. We must be intentional about how we spend this early time together to lay an excellent foundation for marriage, remembering that “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain those who build” (Psalm 127:1).
Going to Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and reading the Bible together are excellent ways for us to build up our relationship with God and each other at the same time. By filling up ourselves with God first, we can then share his love with others together as a married couple. An easy way for me to do this is to aid Caitlyn with the middle school youth group that she helps runs, which allows us to be laborers in the Lord’s harvest together.
Speaking of work, this may be a hard place to apply the first year of marriage principle. Asking my boss for a year sabbatical as a newlywed would not be the most prudent thing to do. On the other hand, I should not use my marriage as an excuse to slack off at work and leave early so I may be with my wife. I believe to accurately apply this verse, a man must use this time to learn how to set boundaries between work and home life. He should work diligently at the office for the glory of God, but when the end of the work day comes, he should want to go home and pursue his wife, maybe stopping for some flowers along the way.
In regards to social circles, the first year of marriage will be a period of adjustment. After marriage, my relationship with Caitlyn will become much more important than my other relationships. Sure, we shall still need to maintain our other friendships, but we cannot become too involved in those relationships, lest our marriage suffer. Trying to attend every Catholic young adult event in the area after we are married is definitely wise, but neither is skipping every social event to be alone. Making it a priority to spend time with my wife alone, and in a group, should bring her joy since she knows that her husband deeply loves her and wishes to take care of her.
Taking off the first year of marriage can also help us remember that relationships are more important than accomplishments. I am often more of a human doer rather than a human being. Over the past few months, I have begun to try to step back from my extracurricular activities to free up my time after wedding preparation to enjoy life with Caitlyn.
Although there will be many highs and lows in my upcoming first year of marriage, I hope that I will look back on this year as when Caitlyn and I stepped back from the craziness of life to learn about each other, so that we could one day be holy parents if this be God’s will. Please keep us in prayer as we get married on October 20. Thank you.