What I Wish I Knew About Marriage Before I Got Married


Nothing like a little controversy to get people talking!

A couple of authors/bloggers I follow have really pushed some buttons lately in regards to their opinions on marriage. Candece Cameron Bure (former Full House actress) has shaken things up with her recent book, Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose, where she talks about her “submissive” role as a wife (okay, just calm down and keep reading). She explains her use of the word “submissive” by saying, “My husband is a natural born leader. I quickly learned that I had to find a way of honoring his take-charge personality and not get frustrated about his desire to have the final decision on just about everything. I am not a passive person, but I chose to fall into a more submissive role in our relationship because I wanted to do everything in my power to make my marriage and family work.” In addition, Glennon Doyle Melton, author of the blog Momastery, created a stir when she posted about the realities of marriage in her post 5 Ways to Secure Your Happyish Ever After.

While I haven’t read Candece’s new book, I do follow her blog and respect her views on marriage, religion and parenting – just as I do Glennon’s. After reading about both controversies, what I realized is that people aren’t reacting to the author’s themselves, they’re reacting to their brutal honesty about marriage.

As young girls and women, we grow up with this romantic view of what marriage is supposed to look like – candles, flowers, white dress, big wedding and so on. What we neglect to think about (or even talk about) is what marriage looks like after two, five and ten years of marriage. What happens when that initial passion and lust and the excitement of “getting married” goes away? When you wake up one day and look at your husband and think, “Now what?” That’s when the marriage really starts. That’s when we begin to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. And, that’s when we realize no matter what, if we want the marriage to last, it’s going to require A LOT of work and negotiation on both parts.

Tyler and I just celebrated nine years of marriage and let me tell you – it’s been a LONG nine years. I don’t say that in a bad way; I say that in a honest, matter-of-the-fact way. Right now, we’re at a really good place, but I know without a doubt that there will be more challenges down the road. However, along the way we’ve learned what works for us – and I think that’s key in any marriage. What works for you? And, how can you practice those things each and every day of your marriage? So what if Candece describes herself as a “submissive” wife? Her and her husband have been married for 17 years – obviously, something is working. In their marriage, she has found that allowing her husband to take the lead on certain issues and decisions works for them. Great! More power to them!

And, Glennon talks about the realities of navigating sex in marriage and going to therapy. Yes, it’s true, sex is a HUGE issue in most marriages. I learned a long time ago that even if you don’t feel like doing it, just get off your ass and DO IT! There will ALWAYS be an excuse not to have sex, but really, how hard is it?! No, it’s not always going to be soft music and candlelight (most often it’s not), but a little quickie here and there will do wonders for your marriage – trust me!

Marriage. It’s hard stuff. In my opinion, most people give up before figuring out what really works for them. Like my mother-in-law says, there will be many deserts throughout a marriage. But, I like to believe that throughout the deserts, there will also be deep wells of water where we will always be able to replenish ourselves.

As Glennon says, “Marriage starts over again every.single.day.”

Amen to that!

17 responses

  1. So true Chenoa, I think as women we become more truthful and honest of our lives and acknowledge expectations of how it should be. Being in love but seeing my husbands response when he should enjoy me for who I am, is at times disappointing for it is necessary to be “liked & respected”. Seems a simple want when you’re in love. The joy of marriage, so fulfilling but at times frustrating.

    • Awe…”fulfilling but at times frustrating.” I couldn’t have said it better! Isn’t that the truth! Luckily, the fulfilling times make up for the more frustrating – most of the time! Ha! Thanks for your comment!

  2. It is extremely hard! And I don’t feel like we are adequately warned or given any type of advice before entering marriage. My poor 13 year old daughter. I am forever finding teachable moments for her. She may never want to get married. lol

    • Ha! Thanks Charlene! I hope as my daughter gets older, I can give her a desirable, yet realistic view of marriage – it’s not all wine and roses! Far from it! In my case, too much wine! Haha!

  3. This is an awesome post! I can’t wait to read more about those links, too. LOVE how you put the sex thing: just do it, it’s not that hard! LOL It’s so true–it doesn’t have to be amazing every time, and most of the time, you’re like, why the heck didn’t I do this yesterday and the day before and the day before? Thank you for being so honest–love it!

    • Well, thank you! And, you’re so right! Usually, even if I’m not in the “mood” I end up being grateful that I did it! Haha! You know, I think most of us who have been married for awhile, or in a long term relationship feel that way at some point. It’s nice to just get it out in the open and say, “Yeah, I get it!” Thanks again for your comments!

  4. Great post, Chenoa! I have to admit that in many ways, I am the daisy of the house. I do the housecleaning, cooking, pay bills and am compliant in many ways. I don’t make the big decisions and I usually just go where the wife is going. This goes way back to our not-so-healthy dynamic of me being the submissive and vacant alcoholic hubby, who refused to make any decisions or take any responsibilities. So that is slowly changing – I am starting to make a few more decisions and getting more involved. Slowly. She is certainly the emotional center and the visionary. I just make sure I take the garbage out, that there are groceries done, lunches are made and I get to work on time 😉

    We are celebrating 19 years this month. It’s only in the last two and a half years that we are are in a new type of relationship. Sobriety has brought us to a different trust level and a way of having and give-and-take that we never ever had before. And as for the whoopee part…I am the one who is demure and lazy and indifferent in that department (I know, I should get my testosterone levels checked). It’s me that has to muster up the “alright, alright” attitude. Oh dear. Progress, not perfection 🙂

    Great post!


    • Oh Paul, you make me laugh! Yes, I would have to say that I think you might be in the minority when it comes to men and their sex drives! But, hey, each to their own! I think it’s awesome that you’re so involved in the household stuff. Like I said, it’s just a matter of finding what works for your relationship. I think we try to stuff each other in these molds so often, that it just ends up backfiring on us. And, who are we to judge what works for someone else? Live and let live!

  5. My husband and I will be married 19 years in March and the most consistent rule that has worked for us is that the person who cares the most about it is in charge of it. It’s not so much about gender roles but about our personal interests and desires. For us, that means that he’s in charge of the outside of the house and I’m in charge of the inside. I handle the money and he’s my sanity check. We wade through the mysteries of each other because I don’t care how long you’ve known someone, as soon as you take it for granted that you know everything about them, you unwittingly put them in a box and no one likes to feel trapped. We give each other permission and room to change and grow. I like what you say about sex too. There are all kinds of seasons in marriage – hot, cold, dry and stormy. 🙂

    • Hey Karen! I love your thoughts on marriage, especially the part about putting your other half in a box. So true! I have grown and changed so much throughout our marriage – fortunately my husband has been supportive of those changes. I like to think that I’m also supportive of his growth, but this is a good reminder! Hope you are well!

  6. Hi Chenoa,

    I love posts like this and I love the way that you stuck your thoughts onto my screen.

    Going further, I have experienced 15-years of marriage, a divorce and then falling in love again. When I got divorced I made a (not so) solemn vow to never get married again. I honestly couldn’t see the point, but the person I had fallen in love with thought marriage was an incredibly important thing to her.

    After a lot of conversation, soul searching and help from Elisabeth Gilbert (Committed) I learned to fall in love with the idea of marriage all over again. I am happily married, for a second time, and feel better prepared for when the tough times arise.

    If anyone else is having a similar thought pattern to the one I had then ‘Committed’ will really help.

    On the issue of sex I think it’s important to distinguish between two very different problems. If your partner is not having sex with you because they are unhappy; and that unhappiness has a lot to do with your behaviour, then I think ‘just having a quickie’ might not be a great idea; but if you are both head over heels in love, and one of you just isn’t feeling it, then I agree with you. Legs should open, screams should be summoned and shacks shall shake.

    Keep up the good work.

    Lee Davy

    • Hey Lee! Thanks so much for your thoughts and comments. I’ve heard of Committed, but have never read it – need to put that one on my list! And, I completely agree with you in regards to the sex issue – very important to distinguish between the two scenarios. In my post, I was referring to the “I just don’t feel like it even though I love you” thoughts. Sometimes, we just get lazy in our relationships and need to buck up and do it! Thanks again!

  7. I think people get all up in arms over the word ‘submissive’ without reading further and figuring out what that words means to them and how it fits (or doesn’t fit) in their marriage. We’ve been married almost 14 years , and what works for us could be a nightmare for others! I think it’s tricky when people are giving advice. I take everything with a grain of salt. I appreciate what I can learn and take away from others experiences, but people need to remember to not measure themselves and their marriages by these “celebrities” who write books and blogs. It’s their opinion, their experience – doesn’t make it right or wrong – it just makes them different. Although I agree with a lot of what they have to say, I think collectively as a whole us women are only feeling more pressure because we want to measure up to what the trend says is correct, or holy. Ok. Off my soap box! Ha ha.

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