What I Wish I Knew About Marriage Before I Got Married

Marriage

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!

Searching for You

Faithful God

As I sat in the church pew on Christmas morning, I noticed a young woman sitting alone in front of me to my left. I didn’t recognize her and she seemed a bit uncomfortable, maybe even nervous. She followed along with the mass, perhaps at one point in her life being familiar with it. She quietly sang along to the music, yet there was a sadness about her – a loneliness. To her right, sat a young woman and man in their early to mid-30s. I recognized the older woman they were sitting with as I knew she was a regular parishioner. I assumed it was her son and daughter or son and girlfriend. I couldn’t tell. They seemed disconnected, even bored. They went through the motions, but it was obvious they were there out of obligation. Probably in town for the holidays and fulfilling their obligatory “duty” to their mom.

As I observed both the young woman and the “couple” in front of me, I remembered having both those feelings of loneliness and disconnect. Only two years before I had sat in that same church feeling alone, empty and desperate. At the time, I had everything to live for – husband, children, family, friends – yet, inside I was like an empty vessel. I was searching and grasping for everything around me that I thought could fill the emptiness and silence the desperation I felt. I wanted so badly to feel on the inside the way people perceived me from the outside, but in reality I was sinking quietly into the loneliness and emptiness.

It wasn’t until two months later I would realize that what I had been searching for all along was right in front of me. My husband who would stand by me and hold me up when I couldn’t hold myself up, my children who would love me unconditionally and my church that would allow me to explore and question the God I had always been so scared of.

Now, almost two years later, as I sat in that church pew next to my daughter holding her new “Frozen” dolls and my husband holding our sleeping son, I felt the serenity, peace and joy that we often refer to as “The Promises” in recovery. I no longer felt alone, empty or disconnected from my life. I was filled with love, gratitude and gratefulness for a God who could make a broken person like myself whole again.

On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I will celebrate nine years of marriage – a marriage which could have easily ended two years ago.  In all my years of searching for happiness and contentment elsewhere, I was fortunate enough to find a man who would lay down his life for me, forgive me, love me when I was unlovable and walk with me through the pain, grief, anger and healing that it took to get to where we are now. I know he is a true gift from God. But, like all valuable gifts, I must treasure, protect and respect him and his love for me.

And that’s when I was searching, I’m not searching anymore
And that’s when I was learning about the things worth living for
Before I was open, before I knew I couldn’t live a day
Without you
Without you

Without you in the morning, to love me another day
Without you in the evening, when the colors start to fade
Without you on the plane ride to hold my hand and pray
Without you standing here when you could’ve walked away

Now I’m not searching, I’m not searching anymore
But I’m, I’m still learning ’bout the things worth living for
I am here, I am open, and now I know I couldn’t live a day
Without you
Without you

– From Holly Williams’ song “Without You”