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Anyone who has been married discovers that there are some realities of marriage that no one ever tells you.
They are realities that are almost impossible to see when you are picking out rings, trying on dresses and deciding if the teal in the centerpieces is going to match the teal in the napkins.
They are the realities you will never find inscribed in a wedding card.
(But if they were, the card would probably say something like this… "You have NO IDEA what insanely hard thing you just got yourself into. Soooo many people who have done what you just did have failed miserably at it. But hey, good luck to ya all. Hope everything pans out okay.")
What?! Hallmark isn't clamoring for a card like that?
The realities no one tells you about will ruin your marriage -- send you into existence as roommates for years (maybe even decades) on end -- unless you intentionally do the wise and courageous thing and choose together to build a more fulfilling life together.
Here are 5 realities of marriage, and (more importantly) what it takes to not let them ruin your marriage:
1. Much of marriage is monotonous and boring.
Yes, when you hunker down and do life together, it doesn't take long before you run smack into the monotony of married life (and honestly, it is the monotony of life in general).
Laundry. Bills. Cleaning. Work. Lawncare. Grocery shopping. Car repairs. Puking kids.
Dishes pile up. And then they pile up again. Lawns are mowed. And then grass grows again. Milk is bought. And then it runs out again. Clothes get worn. And then you have to wash them again. Bills get paid. And then they arrive again.
Repetitive life maintenance. Over and over again.
To combat the toll this takes on your marriage, see yourselves partners.
Intentionally be on the look out for ways you can lighten each other's load. Extend grace. Find and build upon each other's strengths. Don't become easily offended by the tedious frustrations.
Within the ordinary lives the extraordinary. But you have to take a breath and appreciate that fact. Within the ordinary is extraordinary sex as well. For more on that, check out this post.
2. The exhilaration of falling in love will end.
What's not to like about falling in love?! What an invigorating experience. Even people who aren't adrenaline junkies can appreciate what is so powerful and soul-gripping about falling in love.
But falling in love always has an expiration date, which is a good thing, because no one can exist in an adrenaline rush indefinitely.
Don't just fall in love. Stay in love.
3. Virtually nothing will be a champion for your marriage.
Seriously. If we are being brutally honest, nearly all around you will pull you away from your marriage. Work, volunteer opportunities, kids' activities, society's pathetic standards, easy access to porn and infidelity, busyness, boredom, social media, tv shows, etc.
Add to this that satan is a master of division, hell bent on destroying marriages (because he hates anything that God designs and lays out as covenant).
If you are paying close attention, you will discover that virtually nothing will be a champion for your marriage.
The biggest champions for your marriage have to be you and your spouse.
Yes, God is your ally and champion too, but He won't do the work for you. No one can fight for your marriage the way the two of you can. So decide to fight for it.
4. Difficulties will come. Not a matter of if; only a matter of when.
My beloved and I have been married a mere 11 years and in that short span we have faced a wee bit of difficulty.
We've been laid off from jobs, had to navigate struggles with our kids, faced financial messiness, took on caring for an elderly parent, been in a somewhat serious car accident, watched people we love suffer and die, and so on.
No, our difficulty isn't as bad as what some people have faced, and I am humbled by that. But it also is worse than what some people have faced. And I'm humbled by that too.
Don't allow difficulty to paralyze you. Let it motivate you toward each other -- toward a stronger relationship in the midst of crisis -- toward better resolve to build one another up.
5. You will likely run the risk of missing what's most important.
I had a medical scare recently. I already had a good sense of what is sacred and important, but nothing like sitting in a doctor's waiting room with a bunch of unknowns to bring everything into even sharper focus.
Not long ago, Tim McGraw released a song called "Overrated." Even if you are not a country music fan, you can likely hear the truth in these lyrics from his song:
This rock we're rolling on
Is like a circus ride that don't last long
Round and round we go and then we're gone
We waste time chasing ghosts
And overlook the things that matter most
We get so caught up in the maybes
Just trying to be somebody baby
While we're slowly going crazy
Building up a stack of bones
Keeping up with the Jones
Getting us all so jacked and jaded
Baby if you're asking me
Love is really all we need
Everything else is overrated, overrated
We're all running after something
But if it ain't love, it's nothing.
It is super easy to miss what is most important. I don't have specific answers on how you personally can let this not ruin your marriage, but I offer you what works for us:
We make time together a priority on a weekly basis (sometimes daily basis, but weekly for sure).
We do not rely on subtle suggestion or mind-reading to make our needs known. We ask for what we need and want. "I need some alone time with you." "I want to make love tonight." "I want to go out with you Friday." "I need to talk about something I'm struggling with."
Everyone loves that saying "If mama ain't happy, no one is happy," but I've always said that I think a richer and more accurate truth is "If mama and daddy aren't in sync, nothing else is either."
The realities I've listed above -- and likely a bunch of other ones -- are rarely on anyone's radar when they are standing at the altar. They likely were not on your radar. But I bet you ran into them, right? After the thrill of falling in love and getting married started to fade.
Just don't let those realities ruin your marriage.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.