10 Things We Wish We’d Known 35 Years Ago

Last week, I asked you to pray for a marriage event where we were speaking. Thank you for praying and for being a supportive community; it is such a joy to know that you are interceding for us. Do you want to listen in on some of what we shared with the group Friday night? We just skimmed the surface and could’ve taken a week to share things we’ve learned, but we limited it to just 10 things.

Things we wish we’d known 35 years ago . . .

  1. (Me) that true “love” isn’t what I’ve seen on the chick flicks.

I was the typical selfish, all-about-me, romantically-intoxicated, young woman and I needed to get an understanding of true love. It was a game changer when I had my eyes opened to sacrificial love that benefits others and asked God for His empowering grace to extend that kind of love to LeRoy. This is how God defines true love:

[box]This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)[/box]

  1. (LeRoy) that being a good husband isn’t something that just comes naturally.

I thought that since I was basically a “good guy” any woman would be thrilled to have me as a husband. When Kim expressed disappointment in me, or said things that indicated I might need to improve, it shook me up. I was convinced that she was the one with the problem, not me. She should appreciate being married to such a great guy! Boy, did I have a lot to learn. Little did I know then, but I was filled with pride.

  1. (Me) that my husband wasn’t inferior to my dad (or to me) just because he approached things differently.

Difference does not equal weakness or inferiority. My father was about 30 years older than LeRoy. When a new bride compares her young husband to a man she respects, who has a full life of experience, her new husband won’t be able to compete. My dad and I shared a lot of similar personality traits that were very different from LeRoy’s, and I needed to learn to appreciate him as a unique individual. God has actually used those differences as a great way to grow us spiritually.

  1. (LeRoy) that Kim has different things that communicate love to her than what communicates love to me.

When Kim cooks my favorite meal (a pot of brown beans, skillet-fried potatoes, and cornbread), that says “I love you” to me more than just about anything else she could do. I don’t need a mushy card, cuddling, a romantic evening, or a deep conversation to feel loved. But those are the things she enjoys and things that say “I love you” to her. It took a long time before we understood that we needed to become students of each other and show one another that we cared in ways that would be personally meaningful.

  1. (Me) that venting my emotions isn’t productive, but honest conversations delivered in humility can open the door to unity. 

LeRoy needed a “safe place” and my destructive fierceness was pushing him away from me. In the first years of our marriage, there were a lot of things he would do that hurt my feelings (obviously, I was hurt too easily, and that’s something to note, too). I would hold it in for a while, he wouldn’t even realize what he’d done, but he could tell I was pouting. After I’d stewed for a bit, I’d unload on him, or have a meltdown. None of that was beneficial. None of it was godly or conducive to a healthy relationship. None of it glorified God. Now we realize that the basis for a good relationship is honest communication delivered in humility.

  1. (LeRoy) that I needed to engage with Kim, not run and hide when things became volatile. 

I wish I would’ve recognized that her emotional outbursts were a cry for help, whether she realized it or not, that was a way of letting me know her need to feel secure in my love. I was justifying a sinful passivity by thinking it was “noble” to not get involved in a conflict with her. Hiding in my cave was a sinful form of self-protection. As difficult as it is for me personally, I need to get engaged with her and have a thoughtful, prayer-filled conversation with her to get to the root issue and seek a solution together.

  1. (Me) that asking forgiveness and granting forgiveness is the essential component for unity.

Our relationship was characterized by pride for the first several years of our marriage. But when we began implementing the practice of forgiveness, it made a huge difference in our home. Forgiveness should be the mark of every Christian marriage. Frequently asking and granting forgiveness protects you from walls forming between you and your husband.

  1. (LeRoy) that lack of gratitude paves the way to bitterness.

When Kim didn’t seem to realize what a “wonderful guy” she’d married, I felt unappreciated. I wasn’t thankful for her, I resented her and felt like she was the reason my life was so miserable. I was busy pointing my finger at her rather than thanking God for her. I was doing the same thing Adam did when he complained to God, “It’s this woman that you gave me, she’s to blame!”

  1. (Me) that no husband will attempt to lead a wife who convinces him that he can do nothing right.

Unintentionally, I intimidated LeRoy. I criticized his decisions, questioned his every move, and constantly told him what I thought he should do. By not demonstrating patience and respect for him, it caused him to fear taking the initiative to lead. I could easily break his spirit or demoralize him. No matter how confident they may appear, husbands need their wife’s affirmation and encouragement as a leader. 

  1. (LeRoy) that I underestimated how my lack of spiritual leadership would affect our whole relationship. 

I didn’t realize how much it meant to Kim for me to pray with and for her daily. Once I finally began to lead out in praying for her regularly, not only did she feel more secure, it provided the spiritual covering that the husband, as the shepherd of the home, should give to his wife.

We could’ve listed at least 50 things we wish we’d known 35 years ago, but we limited it to these for the sake of time! 

LeRoy followed this list with a challenge to the husbands from 1 Peter 3:7–11. We never tire of sharing the hope of what God is able to do when we submit to His Word and cry out to Him for grace to live what He commands. Thank you for praying for us—may God continue to spread the good news that He is able!

What have you learned that might help a younger couple today? Or a couple you know that is struggling?

I hope you’ll leave a comment below telling us what you wish you’d known when you first got married!



  • Bonny Logsdon Burns

    This list nails it on the head! You are so right, human will-power alone won’t get a marriage there, only Christ’s strength and character can aid a couple in overcoming all these obstacles. 35 years of experience has brought you both godly wisdom. Thank you!

  • Guerda Bornelus

    I’ve been fasting and praying for over a year now for my husband’s return, but I wasn’t being obedient to God. I was angry towards my husband and his family and was secretly seeking revenge. I didn’t know how to keep my mouth shut and be still. It was making matters worse and my husband kept on fleeing from me. God sent godly people in my life and websites like this to encourage me. What really helped me the most is zipping my lips. Ever since I started applying these to my life, I’ve changed and I now have the peace and joy I’ve been praying for. God promised me a testimony greater than mountains and I know it’s on it’s way. Both my six year old and I had the same dreams the other night. In our dreams, my husband came home. My six year old said that in her dream my husband testified how God talked to him and changed him. God is awesome!He asked my three year old yesterday did he pray for him. We’re patiently waiting on that day. I won’t lose hope. God is able and good. Have a blessed day.

  • Guerda Bornelus

    Good afternoon Kim,

    I was just sitting thinking to myself that I drove my husband away and I was asking God for forgiveness during my noon prayer. Last night I watched some of our home videos from a few years ago and my husband didn’t look happy at all. The only time he looked happy is when he was playing with our children. He looked small and depressed. It took me a few years later to see this. The signs were there but I was in denial. I wasn’t a good wife at all. I was bossy, pushy and condescending. I never submitted to my husband. I wore the pants.
    Father forgive me for sinning against you by pushing my husband away. Forgive me for not being the godly wife that you called me to be. Please fill me up with your spirit so I can change. I can’t do it without you. I don’t want to change solely for the restoration of my marriage but forever while I wait on you. Please soften my husband’s heart and erase the hurt that I caused him so he can forgive me. I pray you in Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Bonny ~

    Thank YOU for stopping by and leaving such an encouraging comment. Glad to have you connecting here 🙂

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Dear Guerda ~

    I’m joining you in that prayer, dear one. God sees, He hears your cried, and He is willing to transform as you surrender fully to Him and ask for grace to apply the truth of His Word.

    “Now the Lordd is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,e are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:17–18)