In just a few weeks, I will be celebrating 2 years of marriage to the love of my life. (Insert celebratory tootsie roll here). I always become a bit reflective leading up to any big occasion such as birthdays, graduations and anniversaries and this time is no different. What I’ve been thinking about with regards to this anniversary is just how different life is from when I was single. Obviously mostly in good ways, but others have been a bit of an adjustment. So I want to highlight some of those things just to sober you up a bit if you have any plans to ever be married. These aren’t bad things. It’s just a few things that people rarely think about when they think about getting married. Yes, part of marriage is flowers, unicorns and rainbows. But there’s also a very practical part that involves the merging of two different lives. “And the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.-Mark 10:8
1. Your sins are on full display
Marriage is like a mirror. Suddenly, you have this person who knows you better than anyone else in the world partly because you develop a deep intimacy that is unlike any other. Even if you were in a long term relationship or lived with your significant other before, the marriage union is still a closer bond. I know this because I was with a person for almost 10 years and lived with them for about 4 of those years before coming to Christ, and it can’t even compare to the intimacy and bond that my husband and I share, even though we have only been living together and married to for almost 2 years. There is just something about when God binds you together in holy matrimony. It is a very spiritual process in addition to the natural. But, that also means that person knows ALL of you. Even the parts of you that you may not be so proud of, and the parts you’re still working on. They even begin to show you parts of yourself that you may not have realized were there or parts of you that you may have swept under the rug for some time. Now, you can no longer ignore these things. Instead, you’re forced to deal with your issues head on. No longer can you hide those areas. Instead, you have to face the challenge of correcting your issues. Most of the time it’s not even big egregious sins (although sometimes it might be). But many times, it’s those hidden areas of the heart and parts of our character that we never quite worked out. Suddenly you’re staring all of your insecurities, your flaws, and your selfish tendencies in the face, and you just have to deal with it.
Marriage is so very intimate. In fact, it is the closest human relationship that God gives us. For this reason, your spouse can be very instrumental in helping you to work through your challenging areas. Hopefully, your husband is a safe place where you can be vulnerable and unashamed. Surely there will be areas of improvement for the both of you. That is why it is so important to always extend grace to one another. Grace is favor shown towards a person even when they do not deserve it. It’s the stuff that God showers us with every single day. It’s what causes Him to treat us as if we never ever missed the mark. You will need a whole lot of grace in marriage-for yourself and to extend to your spouse. When you begin to see yourself in marriage, don’t shrink back or shy away from it. Just know that it is a very natural process that people go through in marriage, and it is one of the tools God uses in the sanctification process.
2. Your time, your money and your decisions are not your own
Once you get married, gone are the days when you can just book a flight and jet across the country for a few days to spend some time on a girls trip. (Trust me I know, I’m in the middle of planning one right now). That doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to take them anymore, it just means you’re going to have to have a conversation with your other half before you can pull the proverbial trigger on said trips.
When the Bible said the two shall become one, it wasn’t lying. Your actions now directly or indirectly affect another human being. Anytime me or my husband plan to go anywhere for any significant amount of time we always check in with each other first. This is not because we’re not self-sufficient or we’re not 2 grown individuals or because we don’t trust one another or anything silly like that. This is because we want to be considerate of each other’s time. We understand that each of our lives now either directly or indirectly affect one another, and this is one of the ways that we submit to each other and show respect toward one another. I can’t always say yes immediately when I get an invite somewhere. I have to make sure my husband didn’t have plans for us, and that he’s cool with the time, the people and the place and vice versa. This is what works for us, and we both knew that this is what we would be signing up for when we agreed to get married.
Not only is your time affected, but your decisions are affected as well. For example, you can’t just accept a job offer in another city without consulting your husband or even make a drastic change to your appearance such as a haircut or new hair color. Many of the decisions that once were personal choices between me myself and I, now have to be filtered through my husband.
In addition, all of the money that comes into the household is neither yours or theirs-it’s the family’s money no matter who works or gets paid more. If you’re doing it right, there shouldn’t be any separate bank accounts. In my marriage and in my household what’s his is mine and what’s mine is his, we are one. A marriage is like a corporation. We each do what’s in the best interest of the corporation as we all work toward one common goal, so there is no reason for anything to be split. If bills, bank accounts, savings or anything of that nature is being divided that’s just an indication of a divided mindset and subsequently a divided marriage and family. It may take some adjusting and some time to wrap your mind around it, especially if you have been single and used to doing things your own way for a while, but that is the way a marriage should operate. That is why it is a good idea to communicate and talk about all of these things before getting married and especially during premarital counseling. Do not hold back, or say just what you think your significant other or the pastor wants to hear. Be real with yourself and with them otherwise, some things could come back to haunt you later on down the line once you are married.
3. The dynamic of your friendships change
Right before my bff got married she and I had a talk. Even though she got married before me, we both understood that the dynamic of our friendship was about to change. We have always been close and were used to doing everything together, talking to each other about everything, and making spontaneous plans with each other. I knew however, that her husband was about to fill a place in her life that came before anyone else, and that our relationship would look a little different. And I was right, our relationship is different, but different does not necessarily mean that it’s not just as good or better than it used to be. It just means that we are not able to operate the exact same way we used to. I can’t just go to her house and enter her bedroom and plop myself on her bed like before. Her bed is now their bed, their marriage bed, and I have to respect that. I can’t expect for her to tell me all of her secrets like before (even though she probably still does) lol. But I have to understand that her husband now has an ear for her, and that there are some things I just will not know about. We can’t just pick up the phone and talk for hours (especially since we both have young kids) like before. You should have seen us the other day playing phone tag trying to apologize and give reasons for why we couldn’t pick up the phone. It’s such a big change from how it used to be, but there is beauty in every season. As long as both parties in the friendship understand this, it makes for a much better transition. It just takes some adjusting and getting used to, but if both people are committed to the friendship, there shouldn’t be any long term issues.
4. You go through a mini identity crisis
Ok, that sounds a bit dramatic. This isn’t something like the mid life crisis that drives 40 something year old men to purchase a new red Corvette or even a quarter life crisis which all the millennials seem to be having nowadays. A more appropriate term would probably be an “identity transition”. Identity crisis just sounded a lot better. What do I mean by identity transition? Well if you have made the transition from being stuck in the bondage of sin to giving your life over to Christ and living fully for Him then chances are you have been through a period where you have endured transition and maybe even a bit of uncertainty in the area of your identity. When you live for the world, the world has a certain way of operating, but when you live for God and His kingdom, then there is a complete opposite way of living and operating. But underneath all of that there is still YOU. Still don’t get it? Ok well let me just speak for myself then. Before Christ I was trap music loving, club hopping, drinking, cursing Rita but, obviously those things shouldn’t be carried over into a godly life right? But what about other things like the unique things that made me me such as the fact that I love to dress up and look nice, or the fact that I loved dancing, or that I’m an introvert and all of the unique things that made me me? Do I still dress like that? Can I still think like this? Can I still talk like that? I didn’t exactly know how to grapple with all of things that made me me and navigate through that. There were so many tendencies and character flaws that I was losing and getting rid of to where I felt stripped down to my essence and I had to really see myself (in Christ) and then slowly add back layers. Well, that’s sort of what happens when you get married but on a much smaller scale. My bff always used to say this to me: She used to say she was finally figuring out who Maygen Blake is (her maiden name) but now she has to figure out who Maygen King is (her married name). I didn’t quite grasp the full magnitude of what she was trying to convey back then, but now that I have been married for almost 2 years I finally get it. I am still trying to figure out who Rita Brooks is. I’m not confused or anything by any means, but I feel as though I am still transitioning into her, and I’m ok with that because this is a journey, and I have an entire lifetime to figure out and be Mrs. Brooks.
I think most of the transition that takes place in marriage hinges upon this one word: selfless. It’s the opposite of the word selfish which is what most of us are naturally (even though we don’t like to think so). But it is a concept that you are going to have to come to terms with and learn to wrap your head around quickly once you are married. We have to realize that in marriage it’s no longer about us. That’s what the courting and engagement phase was for. It was all about you being pursued and courted and romanced and not that any of that stops when you are married (and it shouldn’t), but the focus should now be on how you can meet your spouse’s needs, how you can make them happy, how you can serve them and learning to prefer them over you. It’s about realizing that you are one, and whatever happens to one member of the body, happens to and affects the entire body (the both of you), and so you can’t be selfish and self absorbed. It’s now about we, instead of me. Marriage is a beautiful thing. It is a time and a place to develop, and it is the perfect way to reflect and display God’s love. I’ll leave you with these words from Jesus:
Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.” -Matthew 19:11-12
Still Hidden in Him,