My husband and I are coming up on our 5th wedding anniversary this summer. In that time we’ve had 3 kids, traveled to Europe, survived me quitting my job, lived through a thousand fights, laughed a million times together and, most importantly, started to learn what marriage actually is.
As a bride I knew marriage won’t be without it’s challenges, but I was unaware just how many lies about marriage I believed–how in the end I really knew so very little about the institution I was entering into.
Luckily I married a wonderful, faithful man that really loves me. And I love him. And together we have been able to recognize these lies about marriage. Although we are imperfect in living out the truth of marriage, we are starting to see how powerful and beautiful the truth is.
Lie #1 For Good Couples Marriage is Easy
Sure, some people have rough marriage–some marriages even end in divorce. But for good couples, which my husband and I would obviously be, marriage was easy.
Yup, that’s a load of crap. Marriage is hard work. Communicating my feelings with my spouse in a way that is fair, well-timed and honest is some of the hardest work I have ever done. Yes, I love him, I want to be married to him, I want to have more of his children, we are a happy couple, but marriage is hard work. Every day.
I hate to admit it, but I never understood divorce until I was married. I can’t even imagine life not being married to my husband and yet some days it’s really hard not to think, “Geez, what did I get myself into?” And I would be shocked if he didn’t think the same from time to time.
Lie #2 If I REALLY Loved My Husband, Being a Charitable Wife Would Be Easy
It seems like charity should be something that naturally flows out of any woman that ACTUALLY loves her husband. She should be able to happily listen to him tell the same joke for the 10th time, and even laugh again. She should be able to naturally endure his snoring or accept his help when she’d rather not.
Turns out, charity is something, at least for me, that I have to work at. Hard. Every day.
No, my natural inclination is not charity. Instead it often feels more natural to roll my eyes, cut him off mid-sentence of prove him wrong at all costs.
I want desperately for charity, love and kindness to be my gut reaction, but it has required a lot of hard work to re-train myself. I thought love would just take care of this. Turns out, no. Love is good and it’s where all this starts. But it takes work and prayer and lots of forgiveness (of your husband and yourself) to be a charitable wife.
Lie #3 Once I was Married I’d Never Be Lonely
I got married at 28 and my husband was my very first boyfriend. So, I had lots of lonely single years before marriage. I remember the loneliness of single life. The weekend would be approaching and suddenly I’d realize I had nothing lined up to do…the horror!
So I’d frantically send out group texts and make calls and fill every day so that I wouldn’t have to face the loneliness alone.
And then I met Bill and we got married and I assumed those lonely days were behind me.
But there is loneliness in marriage. My husband travels for work, gone for up to 2 weeks at a time, and with 3 little kids at home I am sometimes there, alone, quite a bit. After they are in bed I head downstairs, alone. And sometimes the nights without him, when he is on the other side of the world, are quite lonely.
But, even when he is here there is a loneliness in marriage. It is a scary thing sometimes to invest so much in one person, as you have to do in marriage. Bill is everything for me. He is my partner in everything, my voice of reason, my side-kick, my confessor, my coach, my lover–my everything. When we fall out of sync, when we drift away from each other for a time, I feel so very alone.
In marriage you become vulnerable in that so much of you is invested in and depends upon another person. During the rocky moments when that bond is tested, there can be a deep loneliness.
I know now that the loneliness is just a reminder of how much I need him and how I need to continue to be vulnerable with him. And that there is always a way back to him.
Lie #4 If I REALLY Loved My Husband I’d Never Feel Disconnected From Him
My husband is a super easy guy to connect with. He’s open, curious, talkative. He’s just great. Over these 5 years of marriage I have rarely felt disconnected from him. But I have felt this disconnection. Even though I continued to love him quite deeply, there have been times when I didn’t feel close to him.
I felt this most profoundly after our recent miscarriage when our grief took such different forms.
I grieved the loss of our baby immediately and publicly. I wanted to talk to other women that had lost babies. I blogged about it. I talked about it with the kids. But, when I talked about it with my husband it turned into a fight. Why wasn’t he grieving like me? Was he already over it? How dare he!
Turns out it just took my husband longer to get to his grief and he needed to process it differently.
We are, after all, different people and things like grief can really bring that out. I’m still learning about him.
Lie #5 My Private Sins Wouldn’t Affect My Marriage
If I could give an engaged couple one nugget of wisdom it’d be this: deal with those secret sins. Now. Everything you have, everything you are, will become part of your marriage. But, the sins that you try and hide will have a greater impact on your marriage than anything else.
There is no hiding in marriage. The quiet, secret sins of one become the shared wounds of both.
Lie #6 The Ultimate Goal of My Marriage Was My Happiness
After 5 years and 3 kids I can see now that marriage is for creating and raising children, children that will be lights in a world that seems so very dark.
And, kids, especially disobedient, unpotty-trained, hellions, like we have around here, are not always compatible with my happiness. They bring me deep joy–but lots of times that’s different than happiness.
What is more, I have learned that my husband’s job is not only to love me, but to challenge me and, ultimately, to get me to heaven. Marriage has forced me to share parts of myself with my husband that I had barely admitted to myself before. Forced me to confront things about myself that I’d rather not, ever. I’ve been challenged to become a better person for the sake of my husband and my children.
Marriage continues to file off the rough and ugly parts of what I am, and that can be painful. I don’t always want to improve myself. Sometimes I just want to be selfish.
I know now that there is something bigger and greater than my personal (selfish) happiness. And that is family. Family depends on personal sacrifice. I’ve been asked to give up things I really wanted in favor of the greater happiness of the family. And in the end this is what has ACTUALLY made me happy.
I love marriage and feel so blessed to have received (and continue to receive) the graces of this sacrament. But, it is only when I understand what this sacrament actually is that I can fully enter in.
I’ve love to hear from you now. What would you add to this list? What lies are there out there about marriage?
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