Oh, marriage. It is glorious. And it is difficult. And it is downright interesting at times.
I’ve only enjoyed the throes of wedded bliss for about 2 1/2 years, but here are a few of the most surprising, ridiculous and humbling realizations that have come out of those years.
Feel free to comment and share your own below!
1. You think your way is the right way (and your spouse’s is wrong, of course).
It may be where you store the Parmesan cheese or how you squeeze the toothpaste. It could be how you clean the house or load the dishwasher.
Either way, you’ve grown up believing there is a right way to do things. And 9 times out of 10, your spouse will have a different right way.
While these “right ways” may feel like A HILL TO DIE ON, most likely they’re not.
My goal after a few years of marriage is to defer to each other on the things that don’t matter. But *absolutely* be honest about the things that do DRIVE YOU BONKERS so resentment doesn’t crop up like daisies.
One of my hills I die on: Not leaving laundry on the floor.
One of my husband’s hills: Not having my hair all over the sink, toilet, etc. Because it literally gets everywhere.
2. You forget half of the things your spouse says to you.
Look, I know we always THINK we remember every single thing our significant other says to us, buuuut we probably don’t.
So I don’t know what the compulsion is inside of us is that makes us want to DECLARE DEFIANTLY that our spouse NEVER EVER EVER said that one thing to us. Honestly, it’s stupid and childish, although I still experience it every single time.
My goal every time this happens is to choke out that words admitting that I don’t remember everything that’s said to me – even when I feel SURE that I do.
Because deep down, I know our minds make mistakes. And since I’m not married to a psychopath who is trying to make me feel crazy, it’s typically not worth STANDING MY GROUND about this and starting a fight. Even when deep within me, welling up, is a proclamation: “YOU NEVER SAID THAT I KNOW FOR SURE 100%,” or “I DEFINITELY TOLD YOU THAT I KNOW FOR SURE 100%.”
The struggle is real, folks.
3. You’re nowhere near as nice or patient or gracious as you thought you were.
When I was single and lived by myself, I thought I was a pretty good person. Then I got married.
Sure, I am saved by grace. Yes, God is making me more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.
But I’ll be darned if I am not irritated by the smallest of things some days. Turns out, it’s a lot easier to be “good” when someone isn’t in your space 24/7. SHOCKER.
Depending on the day, I could be irritated by something as small as a dish being left in the sink or the fact that my husband forgot to do something we talked about.
My favorite moments are when I drive home thinking about how thankful I am for my life and my husband, only to arrive home and feel SUPER OVERWHELMINGLY ANNOYED that he forgot to put the crockpot meal in the fridge after his lunch.
Thankfully, I’m not the only person in this boat. I annoy him, too.
I’m notoriously less tidy than him, so I often leave books and papers out around the house “for later.” And I am pretty sure he feels stressed every time he walks into the kitchen and I am in FULL-ON DESTRUCTION MODE, aka cooking, where I take everything out of the cupboards, leave it out and create millions of dishes without washing them until I finish.
Even if you don’t bubble over in frustration like I do sometimes, you’ll still see quickly how nitpicky you can become about the smallest of things. It’s a skill, really, A SKILL OF PETTINESS.
Lord, help us. No, seriously. [insert smile here]
4. Sex is less of a big deal and more of a big deal than you think.
It’s not like it is in the movies, folks. Our culture has idolized sex to the point that pretty much every depiction of it is off in some capacity.
The truth is, sex isn’t always wildly passionate. Sometimes it’s just OK, as this blog covers quite well, and it’s still something to celebrate.
Also, in the grand scheme of things, you’ll spend an incredibly small fraction of your relationship having sex.
However, while it may not matter the way the world says it matters, aka IT’S ALL ABOUT ME AND MY PLEASURE, it does matter.
In fact, it matters a lot.
When done within the confines God describes, sexual intimacy powerfully binds a husband and a wife together. In my own marriage, I’ve noticed sex often seems to help my husband feel more deeply connected to me. And for myself, I’ve noticed it decreases my irritability toward my spouse.
There’s so much about sex that can be distorted, even within marriage, but it truly can be an amazing and powerful force when used within the confines God describes.
It certainly won’t solve your marriage problems, but it may help you face them together in a more unified capacity.
5. Men and women are basically from different planets.
Seriously. You need to realize this. Honestly, that older book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” was a huge help to me in my marriage.
It’s just SO TERRIFICALLY EASY to think that I’m the one who has relationships figured out because women do tend to be more verbally relational.
But the truth is, both genders bring something unique to a relationship. When I treat my husband’s mind and physiological responses as less than or bad, I am making a statement about man, who was created in God’s image just like I was.
Two differences I find particularly interesting:
- Men’s brains have more gray matter, and women’s brains have more white matter. Gray matter represents information processing centers in the brain, and white matter represents the networking of – or connections between – these processing centers. When I found this out, I began to wonder if that’s why it’s easy for men to compartmentalize and easier for women to connect everything.
- Men are not as likely to offer help because in their minds, an offer to help means you think the person is incapable without your assistance. Women are more wire to offer to help to communicate that they care. (From “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”)
6. You have to be absurdly honest to the point of embarrassment to maintain healthy communication.
This is — unfortunately — true. You can’t have secrets in marriage if you want to remain connected.
No, this doesn’t mean you SPOUT OFF ALL THE THINGS that come into your mind.
But it does mean you have to be willing to share — in a healthy, non-accusatory way — when you are hurt, irritated, disappointed, frustrated, etc., etc., etc.
It also means you have to talk VERY CLEARLY AND SPECIFICALLY about your expectations for each other.
It’s hard, yo. REALLY REALLY HARD. There’s something intensely vulnerable — like a raw nerve type of vulnerable — in detailing what’s going on under the surface to your spouse.
But it has to be done. At least, that’s been my experience. NO SECRETS NO LIES NOTHING HIDDEN.
It’s fun if you tend toward avoiding conflict and difficult conversations, and if all you want to do is please people. EXCEPT NOT AT ALL BUT YOU DO IT ANYWAY.
7. You’ll treat your spouse pretty much the same way you treat your family.
So buckle up if you have chronic issues in how you relate to your family.
Because it may be sunshine and rainbows now, but it won’t always be that way. You’ll very easily slip into the same familiarity (and problems!) you have with your parents and siblings.
On top of that, you’re likely to repeat any negative dynamics that were demonstrated within your family. That is, unless you recognize what they were and work hard to break the patterns.
For example, as stated above, I grew up as an avoider of conflict and a chronic pleaser. There are a number of reasons for that, both personality-wise and family-wise. But I had to recognize that as an issue within our marriage so that I wouldn’t go down that road.
Now when I feel the urge to run, I dig deep and SPEW OUT THE WORDS I need to get out. I try to steer clear of accusing David or assigning motives to him, but it’s difficult sometimes. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT I DID MY WHOLE LIFE BEFORE HIM. YIKES, SELF.
But honestly, often the only way out of “assigning motives” and creating this narrative where my husband is a jerk, and I’m the victim — It’s not right, but it happens in my mind sometimes! IT IS SCARY IN THERE. — is to tell him what I’m thinking and ask for clarification.
In closing, don’t think your family of origin is right in how they handled things, or that you are right in how you relate to your family. QUESTION EVERYTHING. DOUBT EVERYTHING. And seek counsel as needed.
There you go. Those are my 7 ridiculous realizations from the first few years of marriage.
What are some of yours?
Or, if you’re single — SINGLENESS IS AWESOME. You are not a second-class citizen, and you are fine whatever the future holds for you. — what’s one of the ridiculous realizations you’ve had from friendships or dating relationships recently?