Marriage Fears

July 11, 2015

It was just over a year ago that I remember sitting in a therapists room. I remember the excitement that mixed with fear as we talked about marriage and mariage counseling. I was well informed when it came to marriage. I was only newly engaged but I liked to read…. read books, blogs, articles,…So I knew a lot of facts. Let me share some of the tidbits I collected in my head and remembered for my future marriage:

-The first year of marriage is the worst. More people divorce in the first year than any other year.

-After 9 months of marriage your relationship will transition into a time that you are no longer as physically attracted to the other person.

-You’ll know when you meet ‘the one.’

-You will be the most beautiful on your wedding day. After that it all goes downhill.

-If it doesn’t feel like you are living in a chick flick, you are with the wrong person.

-“Marriage is the closest you’ll ever get to heaven and also the closest thing to hell.”

-The seven year itch- after 7 years of marriage other people start to look a whole lot more attractive that your spouse.

With all these thoughts… and more swimming around in my head I was more scared of marriage than excited. I had heard of brides that stood frozen in the back of the church terrified to walk down the aisle. I didn’t want that to be me. Thankfully that wasn’t me, but maybe because of one really important lesson- marriage is different for everyone. You can read all the books and get all the advice, but marriage has a lot to do with your mindset and your unique experiences. If you go in with fears galore you’re probably going to make your fears come true- a form of self-sabatoge.

Today marks our 1st anniversary of being married and my mindset has changed a ton since those first marriage meetings with a therapist. From all that I had heard and read, I thought the first year of marriage was going to be the worst year of my life. I knew it took a lot for 2 different people to unite and live together amidst their differences and imperfections, but looking back, this year really exceeded my expectations. Of course everyone has learning experiences their first year, but personally I see those as good things and I remember wonderful experiences we’ve shared together that far outweigh any difficulty we’ve had so far. My mindset has changed from what I first heard about marriage. Now I can see everything in light of my (minimal) experience wih marriage.

The first year of marriage is the worst. More people divorce in the first year than any other year.

I hear this A LOT! I remember people saying- “I remember my first year of marriage. (snort) Good luck!” I know people say this to prepare you for marriage but this terrified me. Who wants to have what everyone says is “the best day of your life” followed by the worst year of your life? Perhaps that’s why so many people shy away from marriage. Over the last 12 months I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought- “Wow, this is way better than I expected.” (but that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I married a very compassionate and selfless man…and of couse we have a lifetime ahead of us to learn, grow and face plenty of obstacles). Obviously every couple’s first year is going to differ and I’m sure some people’s first year are very trying. If I could have given my pre-married self any advice I would say- Obviously change takes work, but look for the good and cherish those moments.

After 9 months of marriage your relationship will transition into a time that you are no longer as physically attracted to the other person.

I believed this one enough to plan a celebration on our 9 month anniversary in Chicago. Both Steve and I agree we’re not any less attracted to each other after 9 months, but after about 9 months I believe you are more physically comfotable with each other.

You’ll know when you meet ‘the one.’

Goodness gracious this one messed with me when we first started dating. One of my biggest pieces of advice to people dating- don’t expect to know if that person is the one you will marry right away, but don’t go in blind. Before Steve, I had thought long and hard about what I was looking for in a man, so much so that I was sure I would know who that man was as soon as I met him. Plus I’ve heard those stories… kind of the love at first sight… more like ‘we had a connection right away’ stories. That wasn’t my experience. When I first saw my husband he was in one of the front rows of church. His mom had been hinting that her son was coming back from the army and all I could think was ‘please don’t walk him up on the stage to introduce us.’ I remember after our first few dates still telling people I wasn’t sure about this guy. He was quiet, proper and seemed uncomfortable with me. (That’s apparently how he comes across when he’s nervous). I kept thinking, he’s really sweet but he’s not what I imagined. Turns out the man I thought gave the most awkward hug on our 2nd date now gives the best ones. The one I thought was too proper and stiff to have a good conversation or any fun is the one who is known as ‘Silly Uncle Steven’ by his nephews and can make me laugh like no one else. Funny how sometimes the ones you never imagined you’d marry are the ones that fit so well next to you.

Once you make it to the altar it’s no longer about if this person is ‘the one.’ (If that’s your mindset you are never going to be content with your marriage). Once you stand at the altar the person before you is ‘the one’ because now they are the only one for you.

You will be the most beautiful on your wedding day. After that it all goes downhill.

This might be true for me… I mean I paid money to have the most expensive dress of my life, the perfect hair found on pinterest and make-up put on by an expert that I could never recreate. My husband says I’m still just as beautiful but I think my husband has me beat. I don’t know how but he keeps getting cuter. Physical beauty aside, as we get further from our wedding day I hope that inner beauty is the one that increases in each of us. I hope that I rely on that more than outward, and that in that manner we both become more and more attractive the longer we live.

“If it doesn’t feel like you are in living in a chick flick, you are with the wrong person.”

This was actually advice given to me by a therapist (not to be confused with my marriage counselors). I left that conversation feeling very confused. This lady believed that the person you marry shouldn’t just have good character and admirable traits. If there is no passion and flame than you need to move on. I might be counter-culture here but I think there is more to marriage than passion. My biggest advice to someone looking to build a long lasting relationship- Passion, sparks, and fire are not a necessity. I think you grow to love that person more and more. I know I have. And if you go in with expectations of crazy passion and sparks eventually you will find yourself disappointed with marriage and your partner somewhere down the line. I think chick flicks are more damaging to females than helpful. As one young lady called them- they are porn for women. They give unreal expectations. Men have a hard time living up to those high standards. But there are other high standards you can look for in a spouse- that’s character traits like loyalty, compassion, patience, trustworthiness, loving, selflessness. Those are the things that make a person a good fit for the rest of your life. The rest I think can grow over time.

“Marriage is the closest you’ll ever get to heaven and also the closest thing to hell.”

When I read that one I was terrified. I mean, who wouldn’t be? I certainly don’t want to experience hell simply because I get married. But as someone reminded me- If you go into marriage thinking that you’re going to face hell, you’re probably going to. But if you go in and say that you are going to work your hardest to make this a healthy, godly and strong marriage, you can also make that happen.

The seven year itch- after 7 years of marriage other people start to look a whole lot more attractive that your spouse. 

Well I haven’t reached 7 years, but I have a hunch this viewpoint might have a lot to do with your personal view of commitment. Commitment is about lasting through the tough times- when you don’t find everything your spouse does attractive, that lasts through ups and downs and the changes in life, not one that blows wherever the wind goes.

I think culture bombards us with many views on marriage. Some of it might have good intentions but doesn’t set a newly wed with a good mindset. Other stuff might be very true for many people, and still a newly wed has to experience it to know it.

What I learned was the most improtant this year:

-Go into marriage with the mindset that marriage can be and is a beautiful thing but requires work, effort and attention.

-Don’t go into marriage hoping to change the other person but embrace their differences- no matter how unique or different.

-Don’t make a big deal about the small things.

-Don’t be critical. Be an encourager.

-Tell your spouse daily something you love about them.

-Be quick to say I’m sorry.

-Have Christ at the center of Your marriage.

-Marriage isn’t about finding someone who makes you happy. It’s about holiness.

-(Steve’s piece of advice)- Have patience and don’t expect everything to mesh immediately.

I know in the grand scheme of things I know very little about a marriage. Having one year behind me certainly doesn’t make me an expert. But I find it fascinating how much a year can teach you and hope God continues to give me wisdom and a heart that grows in marriage with every passing year.

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