What You May Not Hear About Marriage
June 14, 2002
The rising anticipation of the wedding day has so many expectations for a young bride & groom. Ben & I had been dating just shy of four years, while I had been planning & planning for the day we would finally affirm our love before God, family & friends.
In fact, I had been planning for a good 10 months. And if there is one thing true about myself is the love of lists & planning; yet, the less desirable task of seeing them to completion. When I began thinking of everything that was going to happen after the wedding & reception...well, it wasn't all unicorns & butterflies. With what ensued the morning after our wedding, I now realize why the word 'dramatic' has been a common adjective to describe me.
What I discovered less than 24 hours after getting hitched...
We stayed in a sweet little B&B. I woke up feeling confused, weary & anxious. Transition was & has always been rather difficult for me. Ben on the other hand, woke up happy as a clam & headed downstairs to see where the second "B" in the B&B was at.
Upon returning, he found the bride of his youth...crying. No, not crying, more like sobbing. He was completely shocked & worried about me.
He asked, "what's the matter?"
I couldn't tell him what the matter was, because it was personal. I mean, really personal. But, I knew that he needed to hear the truth if we were going to keep our vows strong. I looked up with my puffy eyes & blubbered, "I think I made a mistake!"
"What do you mean mistake?," he asked.
"Well, getting married!," I replied, quickly looking down.
I will never forget his solemn, calm voice & overall composure as he stated very directly, "Well, it's a little for that now."
"But I'm scared!," I replied with a bit of panic.
Ben again, very gently answered, while slowly nodding his head, "I'm scared too."
"Yea, but you don't look scared. You're not even crying!," I whimpered.
"Yes, but I show my emotions differently than you," he said reassuringly.
We continued to talk about my fears & anxieties that came with marriage. The realities that seem altogether daunting of spending the rest of my life with one person. What if I got bored? What would we talk about? I don't ever want to be the couple who goes out to eat and just stares at their food, but never talks to one another. And what about all those friends at the wedding who affirmed us of how "inclusive" we were as a couple. Easy for them to say, because they weren't there anymore (which proved later to be a very good thing).
What I never picked up on...
It wouldn't be until I gave birth 4 1/2 years later that I would come to realize that major transitions cause me lots of stress. I also wouldn't realize that I project too much in the future, which leads to worry & anxiety. Some people deal well with change, sliding right along with new transitions. They view it as a new adventure. However, my person goes into panic mode.
If you are entering into marriage...I encourage you to evaluate how change & transition have affected you in the past, in order to prepare you for the new change. Talk with someone you trust about this, so they can be a sound voice of reason amidst the chaos that you will inevitably face. Ben was this for me.
What I realized is sex is nothing like the media portrays...
...and most likely you're newly married friends who are entering into the newness of it as well, feel similar. Sure, you have some friend that sounds like it's the best thing to sliced bread; but, really, I kind of have my doubts. And even if your friends appear uncomfortable talking about it (same sex friends that is), they probably have the same questions & need the same reassurances as you do. I equate the newness of sex with the newness of breastfeeding my firstborn. It's not as easy as the Le Leche League made it sound.
So be sure to talk with a good friend & know that even though you think you're abnormal...you're most likely not.
What if I didn't marry "the one?"
The number one thing Ben & I have come to believe is that the term, "the one" is a bunch of cow dung. The notion that there is only "one" person in the world that would suit me, or be compatible for me is driven more by the likes of People magazine & Hollywood talk shows. The blatant reality is that there are probably 1000 or more men in the world that would have suited me well in marriage, and vice versa for Ben. However, what we believe is that we've chosen to say no to all the other possibilities as we say yes to one another. Therefore, we believe we have chosen to make one another "the one."
This way, when we don't feel like our marriage is fulfilling, or go through seasons of disinterest, we don't begin to wonder if we really found "the one;" rather, we lean on the assurance of knowing that we have forsaken all possibilities of "the one" and chosen each other above all others.
What I've learned these past nine years...
- We celebrated nine years of marriage yesterday & I'm confident that I'm more in love with Ben today than I was nine years ago.
- Silence isn't a bad thing
- Humor is a gift
- Speaking well of one another is critical
- Making time for mommy-daddy time (now that kids are in the picture) is essential post children.
- Continue to read, which leads to more conversations.
- What I'm working on: Go to bed at the same time should be the norm
- Have your kids be eye witness of kisses, hugs & affection, as to never doubt their parent's devotion to one another.
- Ask "how am I loving you"
- Take vacations together.
- Take vacations together without kids.
- Date your spouse.
- Ben's words, "Well, it's a little late for that now," are said with a gentle grace mixed with a slap of reality...and I need it. I'm also thankful for it.
June 14, 2011