By: Tylene Nichols
Before I was married, I had a vision of what marriage would be like. I pictured myself as the doting wife who would always have a hot dinner on the table when my husband arrived home from work along with a kiss and a sweet hug. I saw my husband endlessly adoring me as he brought flowers home with sweet little notes of his endless love. When we had children, they would always be well mannered and clean up after themselves. My marriage would be perfect and ideal. There was definitely a lot of fluff in my visions of marriage and to be honest, there was a lot of unrealistic junk.
To me, adjusting into the married life was not complicated at all. The hardest part about going from single to married was learning that most of my expectations were not anywhere near reality. I say this as a very good thing. Had my marriage been like the 1950’s sitcom I pictured, I do not imagine I would be very happy. The realities of a marriage include all of the difficulties and problems that come along with it. My marriage now is happy and fulfilling, but that is not everything that our relationship is. I am going to review three things that marriage is NOT.
1.Marriage is NOT a guarantee to a lifetime of happiness
What? I thought that is why people got married in the first place! Not necessarily. Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher discuss in their book “The Case for Marriage” that individuals who are married have a more positive outlook on life overall. However, this does not mean that just putting on a ring and saying “I Do” will eliminate all sadness or hardship from your life.
There is a reason that one of the traditional wedding vows is to care for each other for better or worse. Being married gives you a front seat to the absolute best and the terrifying worst of the person that you love the most. External complications will arise as well through a marriage. This could include loss of a job, loss of family members, medical issues, and an infinite list more. Not everything in a marriage is happiness and bliss.
This does not mean that everything is difficult and conflicting either. In a marriage, it is up to you and your spouse to put forth the necessary effort to bring out that happiness. In challenges it truly helps to have a trusted partner that will make a joke or encourage you to smile. The happiness that people see in marriage is a direct result of hard work and endless effort.
2. Marriage is NOT a cure for self-doubt and low-self esteem
About a year ago, I was talking with a single friend about poor self-image. She mentioned that she was jealous that I was married and therefore did not have to worry about those things anymore. I had to explain to her that sadly this is not the case. Every ounce of insecurity and self-doubt that I had before my marriage is still hidden inside me. Marriage did not cure these issues.
My husband offers me incredible support and understanding as I work to improve how I feel about myself. He is a solid foundation that builds me to be a better me, but he is not the cure for these problems. It is easy to think that if someone has vowed to be with you forever, you have no need to ever worry about how you look in those jeans again or if your arms are too flabby. These issues are of a personal nature, and I do not think it is fair to expect another to solve these issues for you.
Know that in a healthy marriage, the spouse will help to build you up as often as possible. This is something my spouse has done for me numerous times. But deep down, I know that this is my struggle, and as much as my spouse is there to help me, I can not expect him to magically take all of those emotions away.
3. Marriage is NOT control over your spouse
Though this may be portrayed in movies or television shows and even songs, being married to someone does not give you control over them. I have been asked many times if I “let” my husband play video games or if I “make” him do the dishes after dinner. No, I do not force him to do anything.
Together, we have built a mutual understanding of what we want in our home or what needs to be done. I never “tell” my husband what to do. I ask him if he would be willing to help with dishes, or he may ask me to wash some of his work clothes for the next day. I refuse to be the “old ball and chain.” I respect my spouse to make his own decisions, and for important circumstances we work together to find answers to questions or accomplish a task.
Marriage is an equal commitment to each other. It is not equal if one spouse is in control of the others actions and behaviors. Trust your loved one, and work together to build that happy relationship we all have been dreaming about.
There are hundreds of other things that marriage is NOT, but I will end with one more thing that marriage IS. Marriage IS worth the effort put into it. By partnering up with your chosen companion, all of the things that may come your way will be no challenge as long as you both prioritize bringing happiness into your marriage.