This summer, you might have had a few weddings to attend. Or maybe you’re getting serious with your boyfriend or you’re engaged, looking forward to a wedding day to come. This is an exciting time! Enjoy every moment of anticipation!
Remember, though, that a wedding day is just the beginning. While special, it’s not what marriages are made of…because marriages are made of many small, daily decisions to choose sacrificial love.
As a writer, talking about marriage is hard for me. I want to point out all the positives, but I don’t want to glamorize the hard things. So here are five quick things nobody may have told you about marriage. Or maybe they have. Either way, this will help you prepare for the road ahead!
1. It’s not like dating.
While dating is meant to help us know whether a person is marriage material, it’s honestly not a great picture of what marriage will be like. Even the best dating relationship—one in which you see each other in different contexts, serve alongside one another, have mentorship and spiritual growth—still can’t prepare you for the daily communication of living with someone of the opposite sex. It’s a fun, crazy, awesome, hard transition!
The solution here isn’t to live together before you’re married; that’s not God’s will for His children. The solution is to stay in the Word once you ARE married so you can communicate and learn from one another.
2. Your spouse may not want to have sex all the time.
In almost all marriages, one partner has higher drive than the other. Sometimes it’s the man and sometimes it’s the woman; it just depends. When we’re single and dating, sex is reserved for marriage. I remember thinking—as a single woman—how it seemed ridiculous that someone could NOT want to have sex with their spouse! But now that I’ve been married for five years, I can attest that stress, work, late nights, children and the demands of life can cause one or both spouses to be disinterested in what used to be irresistible.
This does NOT mean that married people don’t have sex anymore. That would be unhealthy and a sign of deeper issues. But it’s important to come to marriage with a realistic expectation for sexuality: Desire levels out over time, and that doesn’t mean anything is wrong. It’s part of growing accustomed to one another and learning to communicate well about intimacy and your respective needs.
3. The first year isn’t always the hardest.
The phrase “The first year is always the hardest” is thrown around a lot, but in reality, the first year is sometimes the easiest. This was true for us! We found that the year after we had our first baby was the hardest. How your first year goes largely depends on your circumstances as a couple, your personal baggage and how well you learn to communicate. Counseling is never a bad idea that first year (and should definitely happen in engagement!)—whether or not you’re having “problems.” Counseling is a great way to learn communication before struggles occur!
4. Growing closer is a process.
Emotional intimacy isn’t automatic. While we DO grow closer in dating, maintaining and deepening that connection in marriage takes some work. In dating, you spend time together, but your time is still your own. You make decisions separately and live in separate homes. But in marriage, everything is connected. The closeness that was once so exciting can become too much for some people, who pull back to create distance. This makes their spouse feel left behind or lonely.
Loneliness in marriage is a very real thing, and growing closer takes time and effort. Knowing that you have to work at it helps you be intentional about our choices in the relationship!
5. Interdependence, not independence, is the end goal.
Did you know the Bible does not encourage us to be independent? Nowhere in Scripture is this a concept we’re called to pursue. This is a very American mindset which, when you look around the globe, is not necessarily a pursuit in other cultures. God’s goal for His people is for them to be in community. Community requires interdependence, not independence. This doesn’t mean we are captive to the approval of man. We seek God first, always. But our relationships and marriages should be a balance of depending one another without idolizing one another. Christian marriage is meant to look like this.
Marriage is beautiful, but it’s also a huge learning curve. Don’t be scared if you’re headed into it! But also get ready to do the necessary work to let God transform your marriage. Align with His will. Let Him lead you, and your marriage will proclaim His glory.