Marriage: It's Not Better ... or Worse
- Tuesday, July 06, 2004
I met a friend of mine for coffee to talk about married life. Jen and I have been through a lot together in the time we've been friends. We've watched each other go through a few relationships, and through the struggles of single life. Jen got married over a year ago. Dan had his heart set on marrying her; he didn't waste any time.
This was the first time I'd ever heard anyone say that marriage wasn't inherently better than singleness - and, coming from Jen, I believed it. Jen had been through the battles with singleness for as long as I had, and she didn't come to tell me that I had so much to look forward to perhaps someday in marriage - she came to tell me about how much I have right now, how blessed I am, and how much I need to appreciate the good things I have, because they may not last forever. Here's what she had to say:
Marriage isn't better or worse, it's just different. There are wonderful things about being married, and wonderful things about being single - they're just different gifts, and you have to recognize that, and be thankful for the gifts you have now, because they may not last forever.
When you live so closely with someone, you can't conceal stuff. He sees the real you. All the good and all the bad. It's an incredibly vulnerable place to be, and I never expected that. It's terrifying. What if he rejects you? What if he decides to leave? (Not that that would happen, since you've both decided this is a genuine commitment, but you can't help but worry about that sometimes.)
I would tell you to seize the day - recognize the gifts God has given you now. It's a different gift, but it's still a gift. Focus on the blessings you have. You have to be secure in Christ. Even when you get married, that stays the same. Your marriage partner can't be your self-confidence, happiness, joy, security. Christ has to be that. Know that God wants what's best for you.
One thing that I've learned through all this is that you have to enjoy and appreciate the process. If you put the work into it, and both of you are committed to the relationship, the hard weeks will pay off with good weeks. And when we both walk closely with the Lord, the relationship benefits.
You know that saying "Love is never having to say you're sorry"? Well marriage is saying you're sorry over and over and over again. I see my selfishness, my black heart, my pride. It's humbling. Being married certainly has nothing to do with having spiritual superiority over single people. Anyone who thinks that is not being honest with themselves.
It’s still real life. Life goes on, you go to work, brush your teeth, get sick, dream dreams -- though your dreams may have to be different now because your husband doesn't share all the dreams you may have had before.
I think it's important, too, to give up your preconceived notions about what the person you're going to marry will be like and give all of that over to God. Hollywood paints everything as though it's a big romantic dream, but most guys just aren't that romantic. If I want to do something romantic, I have to plan it or at least plant the seed. When I was single, I had to be careful about watching romantic movies or reading books like that because it set my hopes up. That's not real life; don't think that it's like that. Sure, the wedding day - for most people - is like a fairy tale. But it's one day.
I still have to be careful about the kind of movies I watch. It's not any easier to be content when you're married. It's human nature to want more, and to miss the blessings God's given you already.
Copyright Lori Smith, 2000 – 2003
Lori Smith lives in northern VA where she frequents a local ballet studio, hikes in the Shenandoahs, and throws the occasional pity party. Find more of her writing and preview The Single Truth at www.thesingletruth.org.
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