Although I am not ready to give a lot of marriage advice, I have learned some things fairly quickly that I would like to share:
1. People looking on the outside will never understand what is going on inside of your home. Those people include best friends, parents, siblings, mentors, and gym -buddies. All they can do is offer you advice based on what they would do if they were in your situation.
2. Marriage is like a house. You can decorate the inside any way you choose. I wish I could say I made that up, but a wise woman and friend shared that in a premarital class and I have never forgotten it. It is so true. You can have as much furniture or as little furniture as you want inside your home. You can eat off of paper plates or the finest of fine china. You can sleep on the floor or on a California King. It is really up to the two of you. Richard and I are determined to decorate our marriage as a reflection of what best expresses who we are.
3. Resist the urge to compare the single you with the married you. You live for someone else now. I had a moment of being very tired and frustrated. I had ignored all my warning signs that I needed to take a “me” day. Immediately I begin thinking of how much easier it was when I was single…how easy it was as a single to just leave work, grab some fast food, and head to the couch and watch ESPN. I was beginning to start a long journey of reminisces about the good ‘ole’ days when I shook myself. I didn’t get married to remain single. You don’t join the army to remain a civilian. You don’t join the team to remain a fan. You don’t go to work to remain unemployed. I had to remind myself that it is no longer about me. I gave up that right when I said “I Do”. After my little episode, I reassessed my schedule, made some changes, eliminated some projects, and took myself to lunch and some much-needed time in the park…which leads me to #4.
4. You Complete You. Even when you get married, you are the master of your own happiness, your own fulfillment, and your own peace. A spouse can not complete you. You are complete within yourself. I realized very quickly after I got married that I was still the same person I was before I got married. My insecurities were still there. My fears were still there. My moods and flair for the dramatic? It was still there. Richard didn’t eliminate those things by marrying me. All he could offer me was support and encouragement and unconditional love as I continue to work on me. Who I am, who I will become is all up to me.
5. You Can’t Change Him. When Richard and I were going through premarital classes, the following question was posed to us: “If he/she never changes, could you marry them?” We both emphatically said yes, and in just a few short weeks of being married I realized why that question is so significant. We begin to notice things in each other and we both (well, okay it was more me than him) tried to fix the things we noticed. Richard would become agitated and I would become defensive. I was just trying to help him. Isn’t that what a help-meet does? After all, I am the rib around his heart, right? Wrong. The reality is that we are not designed to change each other. That’s control. Even God doesn’t try to change us. He offers us a new spiritual perspective on our realities through his son, Jesus, and he leaves the decision up to us whether we will consider this perspective and apply it to our lives. Change is a personal decision. Marriage is not an opportunity to change your spouse. Marriage is an opportunity to be changed as you learn to give of yourself to another human being in a physical and emotional way.
When Richard and I were married, our pastor said, “Some people get married because they don’t want to be alone. You are getting married because you don’t want to be apart.”
When you meet someone who you can’t imagine living without, the selflessness that marriage requires won’t seem so impossible. In fact selflessness will become your ultimate goal. Everything good or bad you give to your spouse is an investment back into you. I have decided to give Richard my best. I know there will be challenges and setbacks, but I am not afraid. What I am afraid of, is getting to the end of my life and looking back on my marriage and saying, “What if I had only…”
Here’s to Marriage with No Regrets.