There are four engaged couples in our family right now. Four. That’s a lot of showers, lace, and cupcakes in the works around here.

All the “Oohs” and “Ahs” over rings and dresses has me feeling pretty reminiscent. It’s been 15 years since my husband, Josh, popped the question. Back then, everything wasn’t posted on social media, so he didn’t have a strategically placed photographer present. (Good thing, too—Josh literally woke me up from napping on the couch with a ring in hand). Loved ones only knew about the engagement if we told them, and we didn’t have a couple’s hashtag.

(Darn. We could have been the #LovestruckLakeys.)

I was about as clueless at planning a wedding (remember, no Pinterest) as I was at being married. To be honest, I had no idea what being a wife meant other than we’d live together forever, hopefully have some kids, and file a joint tax return. A life of wedded bliss, right? I’m glad to know there’s more to it than diapers and W-2s.

As a general rule, I try not to offer unsolicited advice to new brides and mothers. I know they’ll get plenty without my two cents. But when asked, I share a few things I wish I had done better during our first year or two of marriage. So to the blushing bride, here are four things to remember after the honeymoon.

1. Pray for your new husband daily.

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” Genesis 2:18

Even if he doesn’t show it, chances are, your husband has a growing list of insecurities. He worries about being successful in his career. He may sometimes wonder if he’ll ever be noticed for the work he does. He may worry about being a good husband. He worries that you will be disappointed when you see he is, in fact, a bit of a slob.

I learned pretty quickly that Josh didn’t need another mother—someone to come rushing in to fix his problems (or clean up after them). What he needed was a wife, a helper. And one of the greatest ways you can help your husband is to pray for him daily.

While several of my prayers for Josh have changed over the years, there are three things I consistently pray for him daily: That God would protect him from harm (both spiritual and physical). I pray that Josh would seek His will. Finally, I ask whatever happens during the day, the Lord will use it to draw my husband closer to Him.

Beware, though. Most of the time, God used this frazzled, young wife’s prayers not to change my husband, but to change me instead.

2. Submission isn’t a burden.

“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” Ephesians 5:24

In the early years of our marriage, I greatly admired and envied women who seemed to naturally submit to their husbands. No matter how hard I tried, sometimes submission felt like running into a brick wall. Headfirst.

It felt unnatural and somewhat painful. The truth is, I just didn’t get it.

Not long before Paul addresses wives in the above verse from Ephesians, he speaks to all Christ followers, saying, “… giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (verses 20-21). Submission doesn’t have as much to do with my relationship with my husband as it does my relationship with Christ.

Through prayer and the example and advice of godly women around me, I learned submission wasn’t about me giving in to every whim of my husband. I still have a brain, opinions, and a say in what goes on in our home.

It means that, because of my relationship with Christ, I’ll love my husband more than I love myself through my actions, words, and choices. I’ll value and respect him over my desire to be right, have my way, or to win an argument.

And to be completely honest, ladies, we didn’t exactly get the short end of the stick with submission. Your precious husband was called to die for you (see Ephesians 5:25-28).

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3. Forgive him freely.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

There are going to be times your sweet, imperfect husband needs your forgiveness. He might make a decision that affects you both without your input. He will wake up on the wrong side of the bed with a grumpy attitude, snap at you, or be ungrateful for all you do for him. He may forget your anniversary or stay out too late with the guys once in a while. He will most definitely forget to put another roll of toilet paper on the holder.

It will do neither of you any good to hold on to anger for minor infractions. The more you are willing to forgive him, the less likely he is to hold a grudge over that time you backed your car into his truck (yep, I did that) or donated his favorite jeans to Goodwill (I did that, too).

4. Love him well.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience … And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12, 14

When we were younger, I loved Josh the way I wanted to be loved. Looking back, this was utterly ridiculous since my husband and I are as different as night and day.

I wanted romantic dinners and long talks after a stressful day at work. He needed quiet time to decompress when he got home (and a steak cooking on the grill didn’t hurt). So, naturally, I talked his ear off every night and then got my feelings hurt when he didn’t respond accordingly. (See my above point on forgiveness.)

Loving your husband requires respecting how you differ in both the fantastic and even uncomfortable ways. It means waking up far too early on Saturday to fish at a lake two hours away when you don’t want to (and without grumbling). It means being patient when he is a little grumpy after a 16-hour workday. It means being forgiving, humble, and gracious.

You get one lifetime with this husband you just vowed to love forever. So love him well.

When I was a new bride, I didn’t understand the power we have as wives. We hold the power to build our husbands up or tear them down with a look, a word, or a prayer.

So, young wife, be a woman who builds her husband up. I promise you a kind word and a prayer sent up for your husband will never be breath wasted.

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