When You Have Nothing, You Realize What Really Matters

When my wife and I got married, we didn’t have much money. My wife was a hairdresser, but I didn’t have a job yet. We didn’t have our own place or even a car.

So you’re probably wondering: Why did you get married when you had pretty much nothing? Well, the answer to that is simple: I was, and am, madly in love with her. And I felt that together we could take on anything, and that things would work out. And while it did take time for things to work out, they eventually did.

In the beginning, though, it wasn’t easy. We had to overcome many obstacles, but they all came down to this: We didn’t have a lot of money. People who say that money can’t buy happiness are kind of wrong. I know what they mean, but money does get you those things that make your marriage less stressful—you know, like a house to live in and a car to get you to work. And when you have to depend on other people for daily necessities like that, it can not only put stress on you, but also on other people.

For instance, early in our marriage we lived first with my parents, and then her grandfather. Her grandfather was kind enough to drive Tonya and me to our separate jobs, but I’m sure none of that was fun for him. He had two newlyweds living in his house who were barely able to pay any rent and depended on him for daily transportation.

And it was stressful for us, too. Living with other people meant that we didn’t have a lot of independence as a couple. We didn’t have a lot of time by ourselves as a couple or space to carve out our own life.

But as bad as all this sounds, something good did come from it: It helped us to form a humble marriage. We both know where we started and appreciate everything we have now. Everything we have now we built together. Every day I get to wake up in my house, see my beautiful kids, and if I look out the window, I see my car—all things I didn’t have when I first got married.

Starting in a struggle also helped us really get to know each other inside and out and helped us learn to support each other. Because when you have nothing at all, you realize that what really matters is each other.

“Would you go back and change anything?” a few people have asked me.

No, nothing at all. Because all that happened is what got us to where we are today, and even through the struggles, we’ve learned good things. (Actually, I take that back: maybe I would change the flavor of our wedding cake. I don’t really like red velvet; I’m more of a vanilla person.)

I’m very happy with my marriage and just thankful that God allowed my wife and me to make it through everything together. I’m not saying our marriage is all sunshine and rainbows, because it’s not; we fight and argue just like any other couple. But as long as we keep coming back to each other and trying to understand each other better, that’s okay—it just means we’re human and haven’t lost our individuality.

So if you’re thinking about getting married but, for reasons out of your control, you’re low on funds, or just in a bad situation, use your best judgment. I’d suggest asking yourself a few questions.

If you look ahead at the obstacles that are in front of you, do you think that you can tackle them together?

Do you think that you’ve got a teammate in life that will help you through bad times and keep your spirits up?

Have you done everything within your control to make the difficult situation better? For instance, if you don’t have a job, are you looking for work?

Again, you have to use your own best judgment, but if you can’t say “yes” to those things, then I’d suggest taking it a little slower. But if you can say “yes” to those things, then I say, “Why not?”

No matter when you get married, you are going to face challenges eventually. I know that some people who get married divorce. But the key is to tackle challenges together as a team, instead of as completely separate individuals. And if you can do that, you’ve got a lot going for you. Because when you’re going through life, and you feel like you just can’t go any further and then look behind you and see your spouse pushing you along, it’s enough to make you smile and keep on going. You know they’re not giving up on you no matter what. And through all the stress and hardships, you’re building a strong friendship with the person you love so much. You’re building a life together.




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1 Comment

  • Lance, I think this is great-especially the part about working through challenges together, and not as individuals. I have seen this ring so true in my life! My husband and I got married when we were 20, halfway through college. So, neither of us had a full-time job (I didn’t even have a job), we were full-time undergrad students, and were pretty poor. 2 1/2 years later as recent college grads, we still don’t have much money or extravagances. But in coming from “humble beginnings,” we’ve really learned to find the joy and celebration in the simple beauties of life and marriage. We’ve learned to prioritize, budget, and focus on the gift of each other instead of lots of “things.” In fact, I think it would be beneficial to so many people if they started out marriage in more “humble beginnings”!

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