The Things the Media and Most Married Friends Don’t Normally Tell You
And they lived happily ever after….a simple tag line from most films and the image projected by most media. Marriage is portrayed as the epitome of adulthood. Little girls dream of their wedding day and what bliss awaits when they finally find the one. The one person who will love them forever. The one person they can live life with and have a family. Unfortunately, most of the movies stop at the wedding or honeymoon. Most couples keep any struggles they have private. So, people live their entire young adult lives waiting for that day when they can find true love and no one tells them of the challenges.
The problem with the image of marriage is that it is flawed. While some marriages are filled with bliss, others are like living nightmares. If marriage was always bliss, we wouldn’t have as high of a divorce rate in Christian and non-Christian circles. I don’t want to be negative, I do want to be realistic. Here are some things I’ve witnessed and heard over the years from married friends.
1. Marriage is work. If you don’t invest in it daily, you are likely to have some problems. It’s not like your relationships with friends and family where you can wander off for extended periods of time and not answer to anyone. You must make that other person your priority. Aside from God, you are joined to that person for life. For better or for worse. Your time, body, money, is not your own. It’s to be shared.
2. It’s not always wonderful as people say it is. A well-respected Christian author was telling me how she cried once she and her husband started fighting. There was no turning back. She had to press forward and work through any issues they had. There was no out. She said being married had really great days and really awful days. You just have to make it work. It requires dying to self. You may have a wonderful marriage, but not everyone does.
3. If you get married for the sex, you may be disappointed. Getting married just for superficial reasons isn’t good. You are putting pressure on another person to always be able to satisfy your needs and they may not meet your expectations. Your spouse could get sick or injured and not be able to meet your needs anymore, or they may lose interest in sex, then what do you do? If you married only for that reason, you may be disappointed.
4. Wait until your ready. That darn biological clock that women keep focused on is not a good reason to get married, especially if you aren’t ready. Marriage is a serious committment, more serious than a mortgage. It is meant to be for life. If you do it for the wrong reason, it can be detrimental.
5. People change. As people age, mature, go through the seasons of life, they change. If you are married, you must adapt to those changes and still love the person. You may have a spouse that gains 60 pounds, or becomes chronically depressed, or unemployed, or fill in blank. They may change into a different person and you must still love them exactly the same. If you marry someone thinking they will always be the same, you may be disappointed.
6. Media portrays the perfect lighting. In the movies people look great first thing in the morning, they age gracefully. They don’t show couples caring for each other while they are sick, hurt, unattractive, or unflattering. Everything is done in the right light. In real life people can be gross. The beauty the night before can be the beast in the morning.
7. Your spouse will not be God. There are so many things that can creep in to take the place of God; a spouse cannot be God. A spouse was never meant to be God. They will have imperfections, flaws, issues, and possibly some baggage.
8. Don’t marry someone you wouldn’t want your kids to imitate or be like. Your children will inherit half the genes of your spouse. They will influence your children.
9. You get their family too. I have a few married friends with great in-laws. I have a few with not so great in-laws. When you marry a person, you inherit their family.
10. It’s not about you! The biggest thing that married friends have shared is that your life is no longer your own. While there are still moments of free time, there is no longer a you versus the world. It’s us versus the world. Which can be a beautiful or challenging thing.
I hope these things don’t shy you away from marriage, but also give you a realistic picture. A famous minister said, “More people plan for a wedding than they do for marriage. It requires work and sacrifice. It’s great, but it’s also not to be taken lightly.” I hope and pray that your eyes are fixed on Jesus. If He calls you to marriage, I pray you lean on Him as the source of happiness so you have something to give instead of expecting your spouse to meet every need. May God always be first. You are loved.