I was scared to marry my husband.
Almost right up until to our wedding day, I struggled with anxiety about the future. I looked at other couples—and sometimes still do—with envy over how easily they seem to approach marriage. Everyone seems so certain. Everyone seems so sure. Everyone “just knows” that his or her significant other is “the one.”
Not so with me. While I experienced “this is it” feelings at times, I never reached a moment of perfect, unending certainty that my husband was the person I was meant to marry. In fact, I wept on his shoulder about my anxieties the night we got engaged. (Spoiler alert: He was still fine with marrying me.)
I’ve sorted through these long-gone fears and anxieties for nearly eight months of my marriage in hopes of understanding them, and here is my conclusion: I knew the cost of marriage was high.
What’s more, I knew it would be higher than I could ever fathom, even though I was choosing to marry a godly man who loved me.
I Know Who I Am
In my 28 single years before David, I had begun to grasp that while I desired marriage, it would only serve to magnify the issues already present in my life or force me to deal with my own sinfulness in a deeper way. Marriage would force me to die, and dying to one’s self is neither a pleasant nor an easy experience.
This self I would have to die to is a woman who experiences very high highs and very low lows—and both very frequently. In my now three decades on the earth, God has taught me much about accepting who He created me to be, while at the same time not allowing my emotions to govern my actions. But I knew in my heart of hearts this lesson would face its greatest opponent in marriage.
When I was single, there was a measure of independence and self-centeredness I could exhibit without being wholly selfish. After all, my space was my space. Especially since I lived alone, I could come home after a long day and not think about anyone else’s needs. I could live out how I was feeling, not deal with my feelings, wallow in my feelings, etc., in a way that simply is not advisable within a marriage.
In my dating relationship with David, this tension had already surfaced. I saw when I wanted to withdraw, if I wanted to hide an issue or an insecurity, if I wanted to wallow in irritation or anger, I would damage our relationship. I had created enough distance so that I could do those things in every other relationship in my life. But with a husband, even with a boyfriend, I could not. I had to face all of my feelings, all of my issues, all of my vulnerabilities, all of my proclivities, and not only share them with him, but also not allow them to determine my actions toward him and my commitment to him.
The fears boiled down to one question: Could I marry David and choose to love him for the rest of my life even if all my feelings of love evaporated and never returned?
The Crux of the Matter
The last question, God has asked me in many different situations. The context changes, but not the substance: “Will you continue to follow Me even if your feelings disagree with what obedience requires?”
That’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it? If I say no to Him, my feelings matter more than He does. But if I say yes, I’m agreeing to sacrifice my emotions and choose obedience, whatever the cost. I’ve always answered yes, but never without weeping and falling to my knees—no, really.
Only eight months in, I don’t know what the future holds. I simply know when I decided to marry David, I committed forever with a covenant love. Through the power of God alone, there are no strings-attached. David isn’t required to make me happy. David isn’t required to love me. David isn’t required to be selfless toward me. Because it is a covenant, I will choose to love him even if I have to die to myself every day—even if David never does the same for me—because my actions are not contingent on his. (START CAVEAT// For the record, he does make me happy, love me and is selfless toward me. Also for the record, choosing to love includes tough love and not enabling someone to sin. //END CAVEAT)
Where It All Ends & Begins
The process of wrestling through these fears was neither fun nor handled perfectly. I often veered from healthy concern to irrational fear. The greatest gift amid this struggle was the gift God gave me in my husband, who never failed to listen to my concerns, never invalidated my fears, and always believed that through Christ, I was capable of loving him well and being a wonderful wife.
My feelings of love and infatuation for David aren’t the key to our marriage, but only a call to start something much greater—a commitment to love as Christ loves. A commitment to never walk away, but to choose David and love him forever. A commitment I will never regret, because I know God will work His purposes in our marriage, wherever it may lead.
“When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames will not hurt you, I only design,
Thy dross to consume, and the gold to refine.”
-How Firm A Foundation-
(All photo credit goes to Tawanda Faye Photography. All accolades go to the grace of God and to the man I married, who encouraged me to share our story.)