Maybe Marriage Isn’t So Great After All

So the husband and I have joined a marriage class at our church. It’s a biblically-based Francis Chan study, and there’s a free PDF for anyone who is interested.**  Let me know if the link doesn’t work, and I will see if I can find it for you.

The first chapter is called “Marriage Isn’t That Great,” and I’ve been chewing on that title for the last two weeks. And you know what? They’re kind of right.

Marriage changes everything. Husband and I dated for three years before tying the knot. We knew each other well, or at least we thought we did. We were starry-eyed idiots. “I do” turns into “What have I DONE?” and moonlit walks become mortgage payments with the speed of Seabiscuit on crack.

When we were dating, a professor told us that he and his wife knew each other well. “I know my wife will eat the last piece of chocolate cake without telling me,” he said in class one day. “And she knows that I will, too.”

How horrible, I thought. Not only would I leave my beloved the last piece of cake, I would set it out on a plate with his name on it and draw a bunch of hearts around it so that he will know how loved he is. Fast-forward 21 years, and not only do I hide all the good treats in an empty tampon box so he won’t touch it, I don’t even want to share the FIRST piece of a cake. I got a chocolate ganache cake at a cake walk. When husband asked what ganache is, I may have told him it means “antelope testicle.” And he didn’t believe me because 1/4 of the cake was gone the following morning.

Sad antelope. He's sad because of the whole ganace thing.

Sad antelope. He’s sad because of the whole ganace thing.

Marriage is HARD. There’s a reason the expression “The honeymoon is over” exists. When we were dating, the toughest thing we had to agree on was where we were going to eat. Now it’s “Whose turn is it to do dishes/laundry/lunches/grocery shopping?” ***

Dating is a time we put our best foot forward, even while we were planning that trip down the aisle. We used to whisper sweet nothings like “You’re so beautiful!” “I could hold you forever.” “I love you so much, my heart hurts.” Now our whispers are more like “I haven’t pooped in two weeks.””What is that smell? Was that you? Dear God in heaven! See a doctor!” And “I would give you the MOON!” becomes “Another cat? Are you serious? The MOON, woman! I offered you THE MOON! The moon doesn’t use a litter box!”

Marriage is not for the faint of heart. Marriage is laundry on the floor, reading when your partner would rather be talking, talking when your partner would rather be reading, paying utilities and mowing the lawn. It’s responsibility. It’s constantly fighting our natural selfish instincts to keep from killing one another in “The Great Covers War.” It’s learning the real meaning of “In sickness and in health,” when you watch your partner develop a potentially debilitating illness. It’s the storm, but it’s also the calm after.

It’s reaching in your lunch bag and finding a surprise package of animal crackers. It’s knowing that he ate some testicle-free ganache cake, but discovering that he also bought a bag of Sweet Tango apples because he ate the last one and he knows they’re your favorite. It’s my heart skipping a beat when he walks in the room, not because he scared me, but because he still looks good to me after all these years. It’s the coming home and finding the kitten you’ve wished for sitting on your pillow after work.

Marriage itself isn’t the easy road. But I’m so glad I’m here, and I know I’ll be okay as long as he and I are on this road together.

It looks like he's up to something, doesn't it?

It looks like he’s up to something, doesn’t it?

** for the record, it loads onto an e-reader as a PDF file, but it reads just fine. My Kobo isn’t very PDF-friendly, but it reads like any other book. Don’t let “PDF” scare you.

*** the answer to this question is usually “mine/mine/mine/probably mine.” What can I say? I’m a slacker.

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44 thoughts on “Maybe Marriage Isn’t So Great After All

  1. Thanks for the laugh! I forwarded it on to others who have been married a long time! I would say that we have attended at least 8 or 10 marriage classes at different churches over the years. They were helpful.

  2. Every couple thinks they’re unique and consider the fading of intensity against the relentless march of time to be unfathomable. I don’t think the problem is marriage as much as how we market the idea of marriage. We need to go into marriage with realistic expectations of what the relationship will become once the novelty fades.

    • You’re so right. We all think we’re immune. I know we had the “It will never happen to US!” mentality.

      This post went live prematurely. I was trying to save a draft, and I hit “publish.” So it doesn’t end badly. I promise!

  3. No, marriage ain’t that great, it’s true, but I do love my pain-in-the-ass husband. At one time I fell out of love, I felt NOTHING for him and had a crush on some radio DJ. made a real fool out of myself for a few years as I lived in la-la land (and regretted the whole one sided unrequited love thing i had going on). . But my husband loved me enough to stay married, and we still are 13 years later.

  4. It is so ironic , I am nowhere near this intersection in life and just begun reading relation books to teach myself positive thinking. Been reading countless stories of stupid battles and to come across this the day after I made the decision to make a difference in my thought patterns and reactions – well its incredibly gratifying . I can’t say how glad I am that your finishing sentences were to conclude you are glad to be there together.

  5. Oh, the things you could go into details on. You did a great job of touching the surface of marriage. We too have lots of body function discussions but fortunately, we have several dogs around most of the time to blame for any odd scent.

  6. This is so lovely and heartwarming. I have been married nigh on three years and right now it is the hardest thing ever ever ever. All I want is to be appreciated and cared for, not ignored and shut out. But I guess it’s about those horrible times because the nicer ones are ever so much sweeter. It sure is hard work for two people to navigate each other. I wish you both all the very very very best.

  7. “Marriage is not for the faint of heart.” H—, yeah! There is a durability factor to marriage that doesn’t just come from the love… The lucky develop a working partnership warts and all. (I say lucky, because life is never what we think it will be and we all grow and change in unexpected ways.) Congrats to you both!

    BTW does the reference to a new kitten mean a new new number six?

  8. What a lovely testament to the reality of marriage!

    Not only that, but you have boosted my diet efforts exponentially by single-handedly destroying a life-long addiction to chocolate (aka antelope ganache.)

  9. Me and my fiance are in the dating to marriage phase and I totally get that we are going to lose touch with reality once we get married even though we both have promised not to.. thank you for this article I will be sharing with my Fiance.. by the way “Susie Sent Me” new followers.. Love the articles!

  10. I was reading the part about offering your spouse the first piece of chocolate cake and thinking who is she kidding? This woman stashes Moon Pies. I am glad you clarified. 🙂

    I always tell people that before getting married, you need to ask yourself what bugs you most about the other person and consider honestly whether you can live with that? If the other person never changes can you live with it for 50 years? I think too many people enter marriage thinking they can change the other person and that is just not realistic.

    BTW I think (hope), the comments on my site have been fixed.

    • I, too, think people enter into marriage thinking it’s a giant opportunity to mold the other into the perfect spouse, and it just doesn’t work that way. What makes it work is a commitment on both sides to love one another, warts and all, even if you hit seasons where you don’t actually LIKE each other. Because it happens. At least that has happened to me. But those bad ones pass, too, and fade until they are a memory.

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