Everyone who has ever dated, or is currently dating, let’s have some “real” talk. Tell me if this has not been you at some point; you have sought advice about your relationship and as you are listening, those you have sought out are talking about some difficulty you may encounter or a potential thing to watch out for. You listen intently for a while, curious about what may be in your future, but soon your train of thought goes from taking it in and applying it to justifying why your relationship is probably better than theirs was and you won’t have that issue. You are thinking, “so sorry for them, but PHEW, at least we aren’t like they were!”
Well, Andrew and I were the same exact way and we were totally oblivious, until probably just a few weeks before we tied the knot. Some of the most common things I have found us routinely justifying are the following topics: marriage is hard, sex takes work, living with someone is a huge adjustment, etc. We felt so confident we were different.
What? You don’t do this? Yes you do. Everyone does to a certain extent. Most everyone has this feeling deep down that they are the exception to the rule. The train of thought goes like this: “Okay, most couples struggle with that, but since we have such great communication….” or “phew, good thing that we have so much sexual tension; there won’t be ANY problems for us in the bedroom; too bad that they struggle with that.” Yup, I thought all that too and more. And then I started realizing the truth, that we weren’t the exception to the rule. Andrew and I aren’t light years beyond everyone else. We are pretty normal. Yes, we have strengths that are different than other peoples, but we also have weaknesses, and marriage is WONDERFUL, and yes….it is hard.
I have chosen to call this mindset “engagement snobbery.” I merely write about this topic to try and help those who are on their way to matrimony realize that it’s okay to not be perfect; it’s okay to struggle, and it’s okay to be honest about your weaknesses. Beyond that, don’t be proud. Don’t think that just because something hasn’t happened to you yet that you could be exempt. Use this time of preparation to be faithful with each moment and each day that you have been given. Take heed of the advice from those you respect and stop rationalizing it away. You’re only hurting your future marriage. YOU are the one losing in the end. Listen to the ones who have gone before you, because chances are they know what they are talking about. No, not every single pitfall they have experienced will happen to you, but a lot of the same principles may apply.
Ask for advice.
Listen to it.
Discuss it with your future spouse.
Honor the Lord with a humble attitude as you move forward.
Andrew and I realized very quickly that we are not immune. We strive to be much quicker to take time and soak in advice, because the truth is that there was a moment, about two weeks into marriage, when we both just stared at each other, started laughing, and said “who the heck do we think we are?!” We realized that almost everything we had brushed aside had already happened to us either in engagement or marriage. It was a wonderful and freeing realization. Marriage is hard and that’s okay; and that’s good. You wouldn’t grow closer together if you didn’t struggle. Struggles help you know and understand each other better and they mature you. How we each handle struggles, and let them “grow” and “mature” us, helps build deeper love and respect for each other. If you allow love and respect to be at the center of your struggles, (a whole different talk for a whole different time), you have WONDERFUL foundations for your marriage.
I wish someone had got lovingly in my face and said this about six months ago:
Remember that you’re not proving anything to anyone by making yourself feel better by thinking you’re an exception. Try to take a deep breath and stop justifying. Don’t just listen……hear.