My husband and I are coming up on 10 years of marriage in January. A decade ago I was planning a wedding and — more importantly — preparing for marriage. One thing I’m glad I did in those days is talk to married people about what it’s like to be married. It helped me sort out a lot of things that, on my own, I wasn’t able to put in perspective.
The strategy was not without its downfalls, though.
Each time I asked a married friend what had been hard about his or her adjustment to marriage, I got a different answer: Communication. Personality differences. Finances. Sex. If I took my friends at their word, it seemed I would resign myself to the fact that everything about marriage is hard. It kind of freaked me out. I found myself echoing Jesus’ disciples when they said, “If such is a case with a man and his wife, it is better not to marry.”
And then I got married.
To my relief, not everything felt like an uphill slog.
Adjusting to life together in the same space was not hard at all. As it turns out, we live quite well together without a whole lot of work on either person’s part. Same with balancing expectations we inherited from our families of origin. We had both been living on our own for long enough that it was fairly easy to separate ourselves from the unspoken rules we’d grown up with and forge a new way together.
Learning to fight … ummmm … efficiently? Well, that was a different story. We are both extremely stubborn. We both wanted to take seriously the biblical admonition not to let the sun go down on our anger. That combo meant we spent a lot of late-night hours arguing when we were far past rational and not really resolving much. Ten years later, really hearing each other and working together toward a quick resolution is an area where we’re still growing. That was one of our hard spots. Thank goodness for the parts of marriage that were easier, because they gave us the endurance and encouragement we needed to really work at the difficult things.
I write this to encourage those approaching marriage and those longing for it. Our culture tells so many negative stories about marriage that sometimes it’s hard to remember what’s good about it. When our Christian friends chime in with their battle stories, it can be totally disheartening. That doesn’t mean that Christians who are married should put on a fake smile and pretend everything about marriage is easy and good. God forbid.
Like I said, hearing my friends’ real-life stories was truly helpful to me as long as I remembered one thing: They were their stories. And God was writing a different story for me and my marriage. Some parts are hard. Harder than I expected. Some parts are easy and a huge blessing. All of it — if we agree with God — is good.
Have you found your friends’ stories about marriage to be encouraging or discouraging? How do you fit them into your big-picture perspective on marriage?