When Ashley and I walked down the aisle almost 13 years ago, we had no idea what we were getting into! We were young and clueless, but we were in love and we figured that our enthusiasm and optimism would be enough to get us through the challenges of life. We soon learned that we were very unprepared!

Don't get me wrong, Ashley and I have an amazing marriage, but we've also had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way. As I reflect back on the journey up to this point, I wish that I could climb in a time machine and tell myself some important lessons on my wedding day. Since I don't have a time machine, I'm hoping that other folks will be able to learn from my mistakes and put these principles into practice from the very beginning of their marriage.

Below are 5 truths I wish I'd known before we got married.

1. You need a financial plan

In the beginning, we didn't have any money, so we naively assumed that we didn't have a need for a plan for our money. Our lack of financial sense and discipline causes us to dig ourselves into a hole of debt in those early years and it created years of unnecessary stress as we dug our way back out. Start out with a plan. There are some great resources to help you at DaveRamsey.com

2. You need to communicate about everything

When you go from being single to being married, it's easy to forget that now, your time, your money and your decisions all impact someone else. A lack of communication in those early days caused some hurt feelings and unnecessary strain. We've learned there's no such thing as too much communication in marriage.

3. You need a strong community around you

When we were starting out, we thought that all we needed was each other. It's a sweet thought, but it's completely impractical. We discovered the truth that we needed a community of faithful friends, wise mentors and the support of healthy church family. Now we are very intentional about seeking out and investing into these relationships.

4. You can't change each other

You each are going to have some quirks and habits that your spouse isn't going to understand, but there's no need to attempt to change each other. You'll both end up frustrated if you try! Celebrate your differences. Marriage is about loving your spouse; not changing your spouse.

5. You should have fun!

This is one we did pretty well even from the beginning. Fun usually doesn't happen by accident. You need to be intentional about making the most out of every moment God has given you. Make it your mission to fill your home and your marriage with love and laughter.

This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.

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