Welcome to Marriage May on the blog! Since wedding season is starting soon/in force now and marriage and May both start with M, I figured it was an appropriate theme for this month. My goal is to share a few things that I learned since I got married for those of you who are married, are getting married, or would like to get married someday. I’m not saying I’ve got everything figured out, but I have learned a few things in the last two and a half-ish years of being married.
I’m not going to lie, I thought I new a lot about marriage going into it. After all, I have a long standing obsession with relationship books. Not only that, my parents have a pretty healthy marriage that has stood the test of 30 odd years. On top of that, Zach and I did a pre-marriage class at our church that was fairly intense. I figured I had a pretty good idea what I getting myself into.
In all honesty, I did. I’m really glad we did all the preparation that we did and that I’m a book nerd and that Zach and I both came from families with great parents/marriages. However, as with most things, you don’t know what you do don’t know about something until you’re actually in the thick of it.
So here are a few things that I’ve learned or that I thought I knew, but that I learned I didn’t really know.
1. Communication is hard
When I heard people talk about communication issues before I got married, it baffled me. “Honestly,” I would think, “how hard can it be to talk to each other?” I am a natural talker and I’m pretty blunt generally, so I didn’t think that would be an issue for me. I was wrong.
First off, even if you were the greatest talker/communicator of all time, communication is a two-way street, so part of it depends on your spouse. Zach is very quiet and reserved, so sometimes it can be hard to drag things out of him (especially things he’s feeling). Despite that, he’s probably the better communicator of the two of us (unless we’re talking about feelings).
I’m good at talking and I’m pretty proficient at sharing how I feel about things, but I’m not good at saying what I want. The problem is I’m always afraid of hurting people’s feelings or coming across as selfish, so I just don’t say what I want/need to until it’s at the boiling point, and that’s not good. I’m always working to get better at this (both with Zach and also at work and other spheres), and I think I’ve made a little bit of progress, but I’ve still got a long way to go.
2. Sex isn’t the best part (nor is it as life changing as you might be assuming)
If I’m honest, a lot of the reason why I wanted to get married young/quickly was because I wanted to be able to have sex without dishonoring God. Part of that was because of the whole sexual desire thing. Another factor is that I felt like there was this whole other world that I was totally missing out on. I’ve already mentioned before that I have serious FOMO. Having a whole aspect of life I was left out of was a unique type of torture. I totally expected to see new colors, have a totally new outlook on life, and feel like a totally new person after having sex for the first time.
I wasn’t disappointed with sex itself. It just didn’t change my life as much as I thought it would. Life really didn’t seem much different. The action didn’t disappointed me, it was the way it made me feel (or lack thereof) that was disappointing. I was expecting to understand or view the world differently, but everything was still the same, Zach and I were just sleeping together.
Combined with that, I realized that sex wasn’t my favorite part of Zach and I’s marriage. Is it a great part? Yes, but it’s not the best thing. It’s one of a million little things that make marriage great. I like taking morning walks together before we head our separate ways for the day, falling asleep next to each other, waking up together and cuddling together in the morning. I like planning things together. Sex is an important piece of our marriage, but it’s not the only or even the sweetest thing that distinguishes our married life from our dating/engaged life.
3. You will not fight over important things
I’ve always had very romantic notions of what arguments in marriage would look like. There would be some important topic we were discussing (I don’t even know what that would be, maybe how we’re spending money or talking about moving cross country or something?). The discussion would turn into an argument. Voices would be raised. We might not speak to each other for a few hours. Then we would reconcile and/or compromise, apologize, and our relationship would be strengthened by the process.
That’s not how things look at all. Zach and I aren’t “fighters.” We might disagree, but very rarely are there raised voices. It’s a lot more subtle than that. Also, the things we’ve had disagreements about have been downright ridiculous.
One of the biggest “disagreements” was when we were late to a church event because Zach wanted to stop and get Taco Bell before the event. He wanted to stop even though there was going to be food there (his argument being that it wasn’t dinner, just snacks and such) and we were already running late. We ended up being about 30 minutes late to the event (which was not entirely his fault, the Taco Bell literally took 20 minutes), which left me fuming.
I hate being late anyway. It was also the “social” part of the event that we were missing and I was desperate to connect at our church at the time. I got really mad. I cried about it before we went to sleep that night. It wasn’t really an important thing, but still it caused our biggest argument/disagreement/whatever you want to call it, as of yet. PS: minus that now we can laugh about that story together, I’m not sure it’s improved our relationship in any way.
4. You both have “unspoken” rules you live by
This was something I learned before we got married, but really only understood after marriage. You spend your whole life before marriage living with your family and getting used to their habits and ways. Every family has its own spoken or unspoken rules that are slightly unique to them.
For example, in my family (maybe because we were homeschooled) the rule was you get your “work” done before you do stuff you want to do. Zach does not subscribe to that rule. If I ask him to do the dishes, he’s liable to go play 2 hours of video games beforehand. To me, this is a cardinal sin. To him, it’s just how he lives life. He gets it done, just not in the timeframe or in the order I expect.
Additionally, we all have our little quirks. I talked about these a few weeks ago in another blog post. Zach leaves the kitchen cabinets open all the time, which drives me nuts. I leave my shoes on a pile by the front door, which drives him nuts. These are things that also probably drove us bonkers when we lived with roommates and siblings. Just because you have a different type of relationship doesn’t change that these things annoy you.
5. Marriage doesn’t make you feel like any more of a grown up
I’m still waiting to feel like a grown up. Even after getting married, I feel like a poser going to marriage events or even talking about being married. All these milestone moments in life have come and gone. Each time I’ve thought to myself, “After this, surely, I will feel like a real adult.” It’s still never happened. I’ve made it through high school/college/grad school graduation, my first “real” job, grad school, marriage, and now even buying a house. I still don’t feel like I’m really grown up. I don’t know that you ever get there (from talking to people older than me). Sure, I do adult things, but it still feels like I’m playing house, not actually living an adult life.
6. Marriage is fun!
I think, especially in the church world, we can take marriage too seriously. I think I still have a tendency to take it too seriously. Marriage is really fun though. I saw a meme recently that said, “Marriage is like a never-ending sleep over with your best friend.” Honestly, that’s true. I mean, as this post shows, it’s a little bit more complicated than a sleepover. The sentiment is right though. One of the things I love most is just being silly with Zach. We get to be silly and laugh and do all kinds of fun little things together. It’s really great and in some ways better and more fun than I ever thought it could/would be.
If you’re married, what have you learned about marriage? If you’re not married, what things have you heard about marriage that you doubt are true? Comment below and join the conversation.