Maybe if they would have told me I wouldn’t have listened.
And maybe if they would have made me take a class or something I would have spent the time doodling on a notebook and whispering to Chad sitting next to me.
Either way, I went into marriage believing things about wedded bliss that were utterly and completely false.
Eventually I learned that…
1. Sex IS actually important.
You heard me correctly.
I spent my whole junior and senior high school years in evangelical youth group where all of the save-yourself-for-marriage lessons always ended in something like, “And sex really isn’t that important anyway. If you base your whole relationship on sex then you’ll end up disappointed because how much of you life REALLY are you going to spend doing THAT in bed?” Plus, I really couldn’t imagine the 98 year old great-grandmas getting funky between the sheets, and I still wanted to be MARRIED when I get old someday, sooo, yes, I believed that lie: that sex really wasn’t important to a marriage.
So not true. While sex itself isn’t what a relationship should be founded on, intimacy is desperately important. It is central to our emotional, spiritual and physical existences. We need to be in transparent physical intimacy in order to function well as a married couple.
2. Marriage isn’t a panacea for loneliness (or anything else for that matter).
Granted I wasn’t single for that long. But it seems as if every romantic notion in Western culture points to marriage being the cure, the answer and the antidote for all problems. If I feel ugly, getting married will cure that. If I am sad, marriage will make me happy.
But here is the truth: If I’m lonely before I get married, I will be lonely after. If I’m lustful before I put a ring on my finger, I will be after too. Marriage doesn’t cure anything. It actually serves as a magnifying glass for problems I already have.
3. Every act of humility is a gift to my spouse (and consequently, each act of selfishness steals something from him as well).
Last week a friend asked me the what the root of Chad and my marital problems had been almost a decade ago. And I really had to trace it back to extreme selfishness gone haywire. Super bad selfishness.
I had no idea that acting in loving humility each day gives new life to our marriage. Thinking of the other person first, moving past my entitlement to be angry, and loving him how he deserves to be loves makes our relationship breathe in a healthy way.
When I don’t, I steal tiny bits of him that aren’t mine to take. At least not in that way. I chip away at the foundation of our marriage and I slowly break it apart. And I chip away tiny pieces of his heart too.
4. Marriage isn’t free. It costs everything.
Back in 1996 when I got married, we pieced together a DIY ceremony (sorta) with a lot of help from friends and about 3,000 dollars. I used to think that it was the WEDDING that was expensive, not the marriage.
But it’s the daily dying to my own self and living in the states of Compromise and Let’s Make This Work that takes every shred of energy and focus that I have. It has cost me everything (not unlike the Cross) but it is worth everything too (also not unlike the Cross). I give my whole self, body and heart, to my husband, and I’ve done it willingly.
It has cost me time and tears and years, really. But again, all of it is worth the intimacy and the relationship.
Thoughts? Anything YOU wish you would have known before you got married?