For years, I wanted a Golden Retriever puppy. At work, I would sit and daydream about how wonderful it would be to have that sweet bundle of puppy fur. We would get up, eat, cuddle, sleep some more, cuddle some more, and then go for a walk. Day after day, month after month, I dreamed of this puppy. When we finally called our breeder for an initial interview, I became teary-eyed. My dream was finally coming true!
As I type this, my precious dream is whining her head off! She’s beautiful, but so much work. Some nights as she’s whining, I lie in bed and ask myself, “What was I thinking?” Sometimes, I have to go downstairs and turn on noise to drown her out, just to get a minute to myself. She is a sweet puppy and that bundle of fluff I wanted; however, somehow, I’m not living my fantasy. There is no more sleeping in on Saturdays (or any other day for that matter). There is no sitting through an entire movie. The good news is I’m getting a fabulous tan, but that is due to the fact that I have to take her outside every one-to-two hours.
Last night, I thought about how I used to fantasize about having a Golden Retriever puppy and it reminded me of the days I used to fantasize about getting married. Whether I was at work, church, home, restaurants, the beach, in my car, or anywhere else, I would daydream about how wonderful it would be to be married. We would sleep late, eat together, cuddle, watch movies, and never have to leave each other at night. Back then, it amazed me how many people were not happy with their spouse. It seemed easy to me – treat your spouse well and they will treat you well and you can live happily ever after!
Much like the dream of owning a puppy, my dream of being married did not turn out quite the way I expected. My husband is a wonderful man, a hard worker, and very affectionate; however, we do not get to sleep late much, there is little time for movies, we have to consciously remind ourselves to stop working and spend time together, and some nights we are so exhausted we don’t hear each other come to bed. We have a good life together, and we are happily married, but the fantasy, had I not been willing to separate myself from it, could have caused a great deal of hardship in our relationship.
While I am a daydreamer by nature, I don’t think my story is unusual. When talking to people, especially women, about marriage I get a similar sense of fantasy and anticipation. It is natural and good to look forward to marriage. Marriage was created and instituted by God as a very good thing. However, thanks to romantic comedies and a stronger focus on feelings and emotions in the last century in our culture, our understanding of marriage and its purpose has changed a great deal. We expect marriage to be a never-ending romantic date, because that is what the media portrays it should be. Before I was married, I told people that marriage was no picnic – and while I was sincere, I still had many expectations of marriage hidden under the surface, instilled in me through years of fairy tales, romantic books, and movies.
My purpose in writing this is not to put a wet blanket on your upcoming engagement. My purpose is to remind you that marriage, like anything else worth your time and energy, is not perfect in and of itself. You and your husband or wife will have to work extremely hard to make it what you want it to be. This is why we stress communicating about a wide range of topics before becoming engaged. The more you have resolved before marriage, the more easily you can transition into marriage.
Our puppy will grow into a magnificent, obedient dog that is a blessing to others if we continue to work with her through this tough puppy phase with nurturing, discipline, and training. She will never be the perfect dog I envisioned in my dreams, but with hard work and understanding, she will become an amazing companion I will be glad to have by my side. Likewise, with hard work, understanding, and compassion, an amazing marriage can transition from fantasy to reality.