My wife and I live in Washington, D.C., a city that’s full of single men who aren’t ready to get married. If they’re anything like I was in my single days, their unwillingness to tie the knot has a lot to do with their unrealistic expectations. Now that I’m seven years into a happy marriage, if I could give some tips to all the single men about adjusting their hopes for life after the wedding, here’s what I would say:
1. You are more difficult to live with than you realize. When you’re single, you don’t usually see how hard it is to be stuck with you. Why? Because your closest relationships are often with buddies or girlfriends you can leave behind whenever things get messy. But if you commit the rest of your life to being with an honest woman, she’s going to let you know that you’re disorganized, that your jokes aren’t funny, or that you constantly break your word. At that point, you’ll either live in denial or change. Either way, if your wife is just telling you the truth in love, you’ll be getting the gift of some hard medicine you’ve probably needed for a long time.
2. No matter how good of a woman your wife is, just like you, she’s got issues. There’s this lie you’ve believed that if you can just find a woman who’s pretty and well-adjusted enough, you’ll marry someone who doesn’t have any major issues. Wrong. Your wife’s insecurities and emotional baggage will be just as intense and vexing as yours, but she’s probably going to work through her issues differently than you do. Depending on how different her personality is, it will be perplexing at times. Try to think of it as a continuing educational experience.
3. The role your mother played in your life is very different than the one your wife will play. Whatever expectations you’ve developed for your relationship with your mom, don’t carry those into marriage. If you’ve chosen a good wife, let her be a good wife in her own right. She might not have all the strengths (or weaknesses) your mom has, but then again, she’s not your mother; she’s your wife. It’s a new day, a new relationship — move on.
4. Married sex can be really awesome. I realize that Hollywood has convinced you that sex is only fun when it’s promiscuous. But there’s something really powerful when a man and woman give themselves solely to each other and spend years sharing the thousands of touches that make them the foremost experts on each other’s pleasure. When that happens, not only is it incredibly satisfying, it deepens their relationship in ways that will far surpass the temporary thrill of casual sex or (more likely) watching porn. And speaking of porn…
5. Make sure your wife is the only one meeting your sexual needs. I realize that most of you would never cheat on your wife with a co-worker (right?), but what you’re much more likely to do is cheat on her with your eyes. Pornography use has become the norm with men today, and recent research is showing that porn addicts rewire their brains to respond to screens, rather than an actual woman. Guys, don’t be lame. Find satisfaction in your wife through real sex that will hopefully lead to real kids. And speaking of kids…
6. Children don’t ruin marriages, they bless them (if a couple takes care of their relationship). My wife and I wanted to have children, but we didn’t want to lose our marriage in the process. So within two weeks after both of my children were born, we went on a date, and years later, we’re still dating and building our relationship. As a result, we’ve maintained our friendship and romance while the love in our family has multiplied with children.
7. Pray with your wife. I realize that many of the men reading this article don’t pray at all, but if you do, please keep in mind that spiritual intimacy is one of the best ways to deepen your relationship with your wife. As Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Make a habit of braiding the Lord into your relationship through prayer, and you’ll find your relationship is much stronger for it.
Come on men — you can do this. You were made for risk and sacrifice, and there’s nothing riskier or more sacrificial than marriage. So go ahead, embrace the challenge. It won’t be what you expected — but with God’s help and some hard work, it can be even better.
This article originally appeared on Fox News Opinion at FOXNews.com. If you’d like an email with a weekly recap of what I’ve written, click here. You can also keep up with my latest articles (and more) on Facebook or Twitter.