Like most young ladies, I looked forward to getting married someday. The idea of being in love was exciting. Being married, in theory, sounded like proof of adulthood (though not necessarily proof of maturity); and married people did not have to sit in a youth group and listen to “True Love Waits” sermons. Marriage to this young, naïve girl equaled freedom.
Some of my expectations were met after marriage. Society did seem to view me more as an adult. Being in love was (and is) nice, though not the conflict-free, lovey-dovey picnic I would have enjoyed. And no one felt the need to tell me to physically abstain anymore.
Everyone goes into marriage with some pre-set ideas and expectations, even if they claim to have no preconceived notions. It is a cute thought, but even if we have never verbalized them, our experience leads us to expect certain joys and certain frustrations out of the marriage relationship.
To start this mini-series off on a happy note, permit me to share three unexpected joys I found in my marriage. Hopefully you will find these same joys with your future spouse!
The Calm, Contented Peace of Belonging to Someone
Even though I knew we would be “married,” I did not know how being married would feel. It does not happen overnight because newly married couples still have a lot of learning and growing to do, but I found after working through a lot of kinks and getting to know each other really well, a calm feeling came over our marriage. There was a deep contentment with just being together. Whether he was on his computer working and I was on mine, or we were both watching a TV show together, there was peacefulness… like my heart was sighing happily.
The Fulfillment that Came from Having Someone Know Me So Well
Have you ever been around a couple who knows each other so well that it is scary? Once, a close friend of mine decided to buy expensive trash bags instead of the bargain brand. She told me exactly how her husband would react and, when she got home, he did… practically word for word. ~smile~ Eric and I have not become that good at guessing each other’s reactions, but we are working on it!
After being together for a while, however, we have become more adept at analyzing facial expressions, tone of voice, and those other tell-tale “mood” signs. One of our friends can play “mad” very convincingly. His wife will say something to him, his face will get serious, his nostrils will flare, and I get nervous. Is he going to blow? But when his wife laughs at his reaction, I know he is only pretending. I’m sure it took her a while to learn when he was angry and when he was faking her out in good fun.
It is a blessing to have someone know and understand you so well that you do not have to explain yourself all the time. Eric’s body language tells me so much more now than it did in the beginning. He has his relaxed, content posture, his agitated posture, his exhausted posture, and his seriously annoyed posture. I would imagine he can tell a lot about me just from reading my body language too.
The Comfort of Having a Teammate
Until I was married, I did not know the value of a good teammate. As an only child and an outsider to organized sports, I did not grow up enjoying a lot of team building experiences. Like many only and first-born children do, I loathed group work. “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it myself; or, I’ll ask someone with more expertise to do it, but please don’t expect me to work with someone on it.”
Our marital teammate experience did not begin flawlessly. Many days, Eric would say, “Heather, this is not a competition between us. I’m on your team.” I was so focused on being useful in the relationship that I resented Eric’s incredible intelligence, insane work ethic, and effortless leadership abilities. He had to repeatedly remind me that both of our personalities and talents were important to the success of our marriage. Embracing the marital teammate experience releases pressure on both people. When one person needs to loosen his or her grip for a moment, the other is there to pick up the slack, and vice versa. When one person is down and out, the other is there to encourage and motivate. I’m thankful for my teammate. ~smile~
Other Unexpected Joys
After your wedding day, you will also uncover joys and frustrations you did not expect, along with some you did expect. Marriage is a ride… a journey… a sanctifying experience. Have you ever heard someone say, “I work hard and play hard”? That spells a good marriage to me: a couple who puts in the proper work and goes above and beyond the “call of duty” to create a great relationship and then turns around and lives life to the fullest within that relationship. There is not much a couple cannot do if they are committed to making their marriage great. That starts with God being in the center and with His word being put into practice each day!
What are some joys you are expecting in marriage?