5 Things No One Tells You About Marriage
Whether you’re single or dating, engaged or married people seem to love to give marriage advice. Everyone you encounter has something to say about your relationship status when it comes up, regardless of their own.
As soon as Tyler and I got engaged, everyone we spoke with had some congratulations and their “best marriage advice” ready to launch.
Don’t get me wrong, we welcome advice when it is warranted and comes from someone we respect and whose marriage we admire. We don’t pretend to have this completely figured out after just one year of experience.
But despite all this advice, in my experience, no one ever told me some of the things that I really needed to know. Some of the things that they did tell me, like never going to bed angry for instance, have been valuable, but they haven’t been the sage wisdom that I have needed to lean on when things haven’t been quite so easy. Instead I’ve had to figure those things out myself.
So, if you’ll allow me, I would like to share my marriage advice with you. Yuck, let me rephrase that, I can’t bear being just another annoying advice-giver.
So, if you’ll allow me, I would like to share my marriage experience with you and just a few things that I wish someone had told me before.
1) People will judge every decision that you make
You know how people are so anxious to give you marriage advice? Well, they’re just as anxious to share their opinions about your decisions with you.
People seem to have an opinion about every decision that we make, from where we go to church to how we resolve conflict. The two biggest topics that people have judged have been our wedding and future children.
As soon as Tyler and I got engaged people started asking for wedding details. Everyone had an opinion about the date and venue and color scheme.
Tyler and I chose to keep our guest list very small, limiting it to only fifty of our closest friends and family members, to stay within our budget and keep the intimate feel that we wanted. Many people were upset with this decision, both those who were invited and those who weren’t. We tried to be very understanding with everyone and explain why we came to this decision, but in the end, we had to decide between just the two of us that this was what was best for us and people would just have to understand that.
Also as soon as we got engaged, people started asking when we want to have children and how many. It’s expected that people will ask this question, but what we didn't expect was the harsh response and words that we have heard when we have been honest about the fact that, as of now, we don't think we want children. We acknowledge and verbalize that we're young and our feelings may change, but people are absolutely offended by our honesty about this and we have had some pretty harsh things said to us because of it.
It used to both hurt my feelings and anger me that people would get so upset with us over something that has nothing to do with them. The thing that I have had to learn is this: At the end of the day, no one else is coming home with you. It is not them that you are crawling into bed next to, they will not be helping you pay the bills or mow the lawn, and they did not make a vow before God to love and prioritize you above all else. The decisions that you and your spouse make are between you and your spouse. Others will have their opinions but it is you and your husband who live each day with the results of your choices.
2) Unspoken and Unmet Expectations are Silent Killers
This has been a biggie for me. I never fully realized the kind of expectations that I had dreamed up in my mind about what a husband and marriage should be until Tyler didn’t meet those expectations. He would fail to do something that I thought he should, like take out the trash or respond to something that I told him the way that I wanted, and I would be so mad at him for it. He would have no idea that I was mad because I didn’t say anything and so I would get mad at the next thing, and the next thing, and the next until I would just be grumpy and rude whenever he was around. I was secretly steaming while he had no idea that he had failed to meet some idea that I had in my head.
Eventually, I exploded and told him the things that I was upset about and why those things made me feel like he was somehow failing me. His response was, “Why didn’t you just ask me to do those things for you? I can’t do what you expect me to unless I know you expect it.”
Wow. How obviously profound.
This relates to the constant cliché’ that we hear that says the key to a good marriage is good communication. Talk to your spouse. Verbalize your expectations and disappointments. A healthy marriage is one that can handle honest and vulnerable conversations.
3) Marriage is one of the Most Purifying Experiences that You will ever have
No one told me that marriage would point a big red arrow at all my flaws. I’m not sure I would have been fully prepared if they had.
Marriage causes you to see yourself for who you really are; the good, the bad, and the makeup free. It causes you to take a step back and examine your habits and characterizations. It causes you to run to Jesus for repentance, guidance, and grace. It makes you appreciate the grace and forgiveness of Jesus more than ever because you are both needing and giving it more and more intimately than you ever have. Marriage exposes who you really are, all your flaws and all your strengths. It shows you how you handle conflict and disappointment. Marriage helps you see how you react when someone else is struggling and needs you. It opens your eyes to how you respnd to another person’s good news. And marriage helps you to see who you desperately want to be; a woman who listens more than she speaks, supports more than she questions, celebrates more than she criticizes, and loves unconditionally.
4) Sex isn’t as easy or as “magical” as it is made out to be by pop culture
Okay, someone may have told you this one, but you, like me, probably didn’t really believe it. You think, “But we’re so in love it just has to be perfect.” I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but that just isn’t true. Obviously, everyone’s experience is different so I can only speak from mine. And my experience was that no amount of love can change your physical makeup. Like any other new, um, “activity” or “exercise,” (I’m not exactly sure how to phrase that without being weird) it takes time for your body to adjust and you’re likely going to experience pain and frustration in the process.
Tyler and I both chose to wait until marriage to have sex due to our beliefs and convictions and I am so glad that we did. Our wedding night and honeymoon were filled with nerves, clumsiness, and pain and it was not as easy or magical as Nicholas Sparks led me to believe. I would never have wanted to experience the first few weeks of trying to have sex (or the much better experience that we have now) with someone that I don’t know and trust loves me unconditionally and has committed himself to me forever.
Let me encourage you by saying that we did eventually reach the ease and magic, but it took honest conversations, uncomfortable moments, actual physical pain, and incredible patience on Tyler’s part. Don’t be afraid to be honest and have those uncomfortable conversations, you will never last a lifetime without them.
5) Marriage can be one of the most life-giving, God-given blessings of your life
People will tell you that marriage is hard-word, that it takes commitment, communication, forgiveness, and grace. They will tell you that you will want to slit each other’s tires on a regular basis and that the little things, like cabinet doors left open and wet towels left on the bed (let’s just be real), will annoy you to the point of considering a murder-suicide.
And I’ll be honest, those things are true.
But in all their warning and advising, no one tells you that marriage is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us. No one tells you that it will help you to understand and appreciate God’s grace and forgiveness more than you ever have before. No one tells you that marriage, if left in the hands of God, covered in constant prayer, and valued above all else, is the most joyful and precious and pure form of the greatest gift that God offers – Relationship.
No one ever told me that being married to such an incredible man would change who I am for the better. That it would change my sense of self-worth and safety.
No one told me that intimacy, through both conversation and sex, would give me a better understanding of Who God is and the closeness of the trinity.
Being married to Tyler is truly the greatest gift that I have been given. Knowing that I have someone to come home to, someone to rely on, a shoulder to cry on, and a constant supporter is one of the best feelings in the world.
I hope that these few tidbits of insight into marriage can be helpful to you. More than anything I hope that I can help you believe that marriage is a beautiful gift from God. It isn’t anything that needs to be rushed, it isn’t a necessity to life, and it isn’t a salvation or super-fix for your problems.
A God-given marriage is something that comes from trusting Him no matter what and believing that He truly knows what is best. Whether you’re single or married, trust God with your relationship status and let Him lead you through every season.
“For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, Holman Christian Study Bible).
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
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