I remember basking in the glow of it all. We sat in my car for about 30 minutes after we left the restaurant trading, “Oh my gosh.” and “Woah” as an entire conversation before saying goodbye. As I drove home I basically only used my left hand, staring at it the whole way. I’m not really sure how I made it there safely – but my brand new engagement ring was just too good to take my eyes off of. Don’t do this if you’re getting married
If you have recently joined the ranks of engaged folks, congratulations! How exciting! Or perhaps you count yourself as a newlywed – congratulations! How exciting! When I was on that journey (it’s been 4 years and almost a baby, but I’m still gonna say I’m a newlywed because I can and I wanna) – there was only one thing that could bring me down from the joyous cloud impending matrimony had placed me on…people.
In my limited, crude research, women get it the worst. When people, especially other women, find out you’re engaged the conversation usually contains something like one of the following phrases:
Congratulations! Wow, marriage is so much work – you ready?
OMG congrats! The first year is so hard!
You guys like each other now, just wait!
Oh you’re still in the honeymoon phase. Talk to me in a few years!
Essentially some sentence meant to eek the slightest bit of worry or pause that maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t be as happy or excited as you are. So now, the big advice I have for you. Don’t do this if you’re getting married:
Don’t listen. Don’t let people project their negative experiences onto yours – especially since you don’t know how those folks did or didn’t prepare themselves for marriage. With life changes, especially getting married or having kids, for some reason people are much quicker to feed your fears instead of your faith. I’ve found myself at times buying into this thinking, waiting for the bad part of my experience because others told me it was inevitable.
Ladies, especially, why do we do this to each other?
Everyone told me how difficult the first year would be. How we’d dislike each other. How we’d fight a lot. It started to make me so nervous. We chose not to live together before we were married and, when people heard that, they assumed the adjustment would be even worse. In the end, our first year was…well, amazing. Truly. We had a lot of fun. Like, a lot. You can absolutely have the same story!
Was living together an adjustment? Sure. But, personally, it didn’t make sense for me to turn adjustments into arguments. You don’t have to either. It is all a choice.
Here’s the real deal. Marriage is amazing. It’s awesome. Being married is a wonderful, fun, exciting journey with your best friend and ally as you support each other in the life God has called you to live and the things He has called you to do.
Now, is marriage work? Sure – but I want to challenge what that means a bit. People typically use the negative connotation of the word “work” as if you are sure to be miserable while doing it. This is not so. Everything you love in life is also work. If you have a job you love – doesn’t it still require work? Building a business you really believe in or completing a project you’re excited about – work. Writing a book you can’t wait for people to read – work. Work is not bad. Challenging sometimes, yes. Marriage, like faith, requires you to die to yourself everyday – to serve and prefer someone else above yourself. And sometimes when you’re in a mood – a moody mood – doing that takes work. And that’s ok. The cool part is, on the other side of both people doing that work, is all of the amazing, deep, impactful, irreplaceable and glorious stuff that comes with marriage.
There is a lot of life to be lived and there’s no way to know what curve balls it may throw your way – both as an individual and as a couple, but the difference is now everything is filtered through your coupledom because you both are now one, and how you feel/process things affects the other person. This can be tricky territory.
Understand that your vulnerability and transparency will have to increase to levels you didn’t know existed. That’s the work of it all, really. Though difficult, it will only make you unhappy if you choose to let it. This is your marriage to build and you two alone get to choose the culture of your relationship. If you are intentional about it, it may not be perfect, but it will add a huge amount of joy and value to your life.
My advice: Don’t accept just anyone speaking into or over your marriage. There are plenty of people out there with healthy marriages who would love to encourage you. Find them – the people who will pray for you, pray with you, and speak life to you and your soon to be spouse.
Have you experienced something like this? Folks feeding your fear instead of your faith?