I never wanted to get married.
When I used to hear about or see pictures of people I knew getting engaged, I cringed on the inside. “That sucks for them”, I would think to myself. I feel like I have to mention this was before recommitting my life to Jesus, and I was much younger back when I felt it necessary to feel bad for people who were getting engaged. I viewed marriage as something everyone was doing because it was trendy, and I wanted nothing to do with it.
Little did I know, a few short years later, I would be married and living on Maui after a 7 week engagement.
Looking back to my anti-marriage phase, I believed a lot of things that weren’t true about marriage, like it was reserved for boring people who wanted to settle down and do nothing fun ever again for the rest of their lives, or that people were just settling for marriage because they were afraid to be alone. I’m being brutally honest here, friends. These were the thoughts that occupied my 20-year old mind when another announcement would pop up on Facebook.
Fast forward 7 years later, and now that I’m married, I’ve realized 3 more things that aren’t true about marriage.
1. Marriage doesn’t mean you’ll never be lonely
We all have those days when we feel extra lonely; when doubts creeps in, when friends feel (or are) far away, or when hard times leave you feeling like no one understands. Throw in a good dose of social media comparison and now you feel left out, sad, and all alone.
I’m sorry to tell you: Those nights don’t stop happening just because you’re married.
But when you have realistic expectations about marriage, you won’t wonder if something is wrong with you when loneliness sneaks up in your marriage. It’s ok, and totally normal, to still experience loneliness when you’re married. Because we’re human, and human emotions aren’t silenced because we’re married. Likewise, marriage doesn’t cure our sinful nature – but more often than not, it puts your sinful flaws under a microscope because you are suddenly living life so intimately with another flawed human.
And this is all ok.
When we accept Jesus, it doesn’t mean we are promised a perfect life.
Similarly, we aren’t promised perfection once we say “I do”.
But we are promised hope, love, joy and peace from our comforter. And if you’re both seeking Him, you’re going to be ok.
2. Alone time is still necessary
And no, I don’t mean alone time with your spouse. I mean alone.
Alone time isn’t just for moms. I never realized how much time I spent on my own before I was married. Before marriage, if you need time to chill out, you just do it. You can create your own agenda, schedule, and decide how and where you want to spend your free time.
As newlyweds, a lot of couples want to spend every spare moment together. You’re on cloud 9, and doing anything and everything together is exciting, even if it’s just going to the grocery store. I’m sure we can all relate to this feeling when we’re first dating someone, too.
After my husband and I were first married and the initial “we’re married!” excitement began to wear off (just a smidge. We’re still very much considered newlyweds!) I would feel guilty if I wanted to do something on my own, like if I needed to sit in silence to unwind after work, or go for a run, or read a book…. alone.
Now that it’s been a couple of years, I realize I (and my husband) need time to decompress after work, and that’s OK. And it’s ok if we have different ways of doing so, too, as long as we’re aware of it. It’s ok if he wants to watch the game while I read in the bedroom. It doesn’t mean we aren’t connecting, and won’t spend time together later in the night or make time for an intentional date another night.
Take time for yourselves to recharge, fuel up, and spend quiet time alone with the Lord. It will make your quality time together more rich and fulfilling to come together with refreshed spirits and minds.
3. The first year of marriage doesn’t always suck
I know everyone is different, but we were prepared for the absolute worst after hearing so many horror stories and warnings about the first few years of marriage. We were terrified, unsure, and ready for a possible war. I’m not saying marriage doesn’t require intentionality and detailed care. But I was prepared for the worst, and I’m here to tell you: it’s not always that bad.
By checking in with one another daily and being open, honest, and patient with one another, we’ve successfully managed to avoid hating our lives (or each other) since being married. Don’t get me wrong, life has thrown punches. We’ve battled disagreements, hurts, financial hardships, job changes, homesickness, and many, many more trials. But we didn’t take our outside circumstances out on each other. And if an issue was personal, we hashed it out right away, before it could build and grow into bitterness.
We are by no means perfect. But don’t be discouraged by the “just wait until the excitement wears off” stereotype.
I’ve come a long way since believing I never wanted to get married. I’ve learned that marriage does not equal being boring, and that it is filled with joy and blessings from the Lord that I never knew were possible. It’s double the family, a built in best friend, and someone to chase after Jesus with for as long as we both shall live. And that’s a pretty cool gift from the Lord, if you ask me.