Ever since I was a little girl, I couldn’t wait for the day I’d finally have that diamond ring on my finger. It would mean that someone wanted me and chose me, and that I’d finally have a best friend for life. Everything would be perfect.
Deep down, I thought marriage would somehow fix me, somehow complete me, in a way that nothing else could.
And it was easy to believe this when I started dating my husband—as the butterflies flitted around in my stomach, and I felt happier than I’d ever been in my life, high on our new relationship and then our engagement. But as time passed, I discovered that marriage can’t fix a person. It doesn’t change who we are at the core. As the butterflies settled down into a much more real, deep love, I had the opportunity to take a hard look at myself and all my brokenness, and to work through some painful issues.
Marriage has been so good for me, but it didn’t magically fix anything. So today I want to share the four things I discovered do not get fixed the moment you say “I do.”
1. Marriage does not magically remove loneliness.
I struggled so much with loneliness throughout high school and my 20s, which is one reason I could hardly wait to get married. I figured that once I found Mr. Right, I’d never be lonely again! But I didn’t realize two things.
First, loneliness isn’t just about our circumstances. It can certainly be affected by them; if I stay home watching Netflix for days on end and don’t spend quality time with friends, you bet I’ll be lonely! But there’s more to it.
Loneliness comes from somewhere deep inside us. There are different reasons for it, but it’s important to look a little deeper, to look at what causes it in your own life, to find that “root issue.”
Loneliness is also a very normal part of the human experience, and it’s not limited to the single years. I still get lonely now that I’m married, even though my husband and I are incredibly close.
I’ve realized that loneliness is something you have to face head on with God and with people you love, and learn how to work through it. It doesn’t just disappear when circumstances (or relationship statuses) change.
Second, you need more than one person in your life. One person cannot fill all your relational needs. If you try to put that expectation on your spouse, it will be too heavy for him to carry.
I think we have this built-in desire for both friends and a significant other; I think it’s in our DNA. There will be seasons of life when we have one and not the other, and those seasons will be lonely—no matter which one we have. That’s part of the reason it’s so important to start developing and cherishing good, deep friendships no matter what your relationship status is.
2. Marriage does not purge away lust.
It’s tempting to think that lust is all about sexual desire, but it’s not. Lust isn’t really about sex at all. I think lust is about pursuing something that God has not given us in that time, or that way. Lust is about wanting more and more of a good thing, and wanting it even more than we want to love God. Lust can be for food, power, sex, popularity, money or a hundred other things.
So getting married doesn’t purge away lust. It might mask it for a little while, during the “honeymoon stage,” but lust is a battle that doesn’t just go away. It is something we work through with God over time, and if you haven’t begun the process of surrendering it before marriage, it will rear its ugly head right back up again after vows have been said.
3. Marriage will not resolve your arguments.
If you’re fighting a lot with your boyfriend, it’s easy to think, As soon as we get married, these issues will resolve themselves.
But if you’re facing really big issues (e.g., different values, different expectations of a relationship, different life goals), they won’t just resolve themselves. They may fade to the background for a few months or years in the excitement of planning a wedding and starting a marriage, but they will come up again. You will need to work through them at some point.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t marry a guy that you argue with. On the contrary, having healthy conflict in a relationship can show you a lot about the guy’s character. If you always agree about everything, it often means one person isn’t being totally honest with the other. But just make sure you’re not getting married to try to escape a big issue, because you won’t be able to escape it. You will eventually need to work through it.
4. Marriage will not heal your self-worth.
That was another big one I believed—that once a guy had finally chosen me, wanted me enough to slip a ring on my finger, I would finally feel wanted. I thought marriage would change how I felt about myself at the core.
And marriage to a great, godly man can absolutely help improve our self-image. I’ve seen my husband and many other great guys love their wives to life, in some ways.
But no human can heal your self-worth.
Developing self-worth takes time and hard work. I actually found that once I got married, I initially struggled even more than when I was single, because there was finally someone who I really cared what he thought about me. What if he rejected me?
Learning that you are wanted, loved and desired cannot be tied to one person, because people are not perfect.
I started going to counseling to work through some unresolved issues that were contributing to my poor self-image, and asking God to help me really, truly know that I was forever loved by Him. It’s still a process, but I’ve taken some big steps in the right direction.
You see, marriage is a gift.
God uses my marriage to show me the areas He wants to work on in my life, and my husband has been my greatest cheerleader as I’ve done the hard work in counseling and on my knees before God.
But my husband himself can not save me. He cannot make me whole. He cannot heal me.
Only God can do that.
And I guess that’s the point of all this: I expected my husband to be my savior. I had all these expectations for how he would complete me, but no person can live up to all those expectations. No human can fix our lives or make us whole. Only our Savior can.
So when you have that beautiful, diamond ring slipped on your finger, remember that marriage doesn’t fix anything; instead, God uses it to reveal the next things He wants to work on in our hearts.