The commitment to marriage is a big one . . . one of the biggest commitments and decisions a person will make during her life. Marriage also brings with it a great deal of change.
In a sense, it is very difficult to prepare for marriage. Nothing can quite prepare you for jumping in head first into this season of life. One day you’re single, the next you’re married.
I must admit I had a relatively easy transition to marriage . . . at least compared to some stories I’ve heard. (I’ve often wondered if those “horror” stories is what made my transition easier. Nothing could have been as bad as I was expecting after listening to some of those stories!) But that’s not to say it was a piece of cake.
First, I struggled (and still do) with a loss of independence. I knew before getting married that I enjoy my independence. My mom cautioned me with stories from her own life about how difficult it can be to adjust to being a submissive wife after I became accustomed to independence during singleness. Armed with this foreknowledge, I honestly thought that I would be prepared for losing some independence.
But it’s still a struggle.
Before I was married, I was free to make decisions on my own. If I wanted to (and could afford it), I could travel to visit friends. I was able to spend a semester overseas. Many of my decisions primarily affected only myself.
Now, however, most of my decisions need to be run by my husband. I can’t just up and decide I want to take a trip. I certainly can’t go spend three-and-a-half months overseas like I did in college!
I would never trade my life now for the freedom I had before being single. (I love being married!) However, sometimes I still slightly mourn the ability to be free.
Secondly, I’ve struggled with learning how to deal with extended family. I love my parents, and I love my in-laws. Yet it has still been quite the adjustment for me learning to think of Jason and myself as our own family, separate and apart from his family and my family.
After so many years of living at home, obeying and honoring your parents as a child, it can be quite an adjustment to switch your allegiance to your husband. Now certainly parents still deserve respect from their married, adult children. However, now it is up to the husband and wife to make decisions for their new family.
I hadn’t realized about how challenging it would be to make decisions for our family that I knew my parents wouldn’t make or even they would disapprove of (even if it was only slight disapproval).
I have to remind myself continually that Jason and I are a separate family. We (and ultimately Jason) are responsible before God for the decisions we make now.
I’m sure it is even more challenging when couples have to set boundaries with their parents. Jason and I have been quite fortunate in that we have not had to set up boundaries with our parents. But I’m sure when (or if) we need to, it will be difficult to do so.
Thirdly, I prepared myself for surprises. I knew that regardless of how much I tried to prepare myself for marriage, there would still be issues that would come up after we were married. There’s no way to be completely, 100% prepared for marriage. Regardless of how well you know a person, there will still be surprises and struggles as you learn to live with each other. Two independent people are coming together in a personal, dependent relationship. That process is not going to be without its ups and downs. Be prepared so you won’t be shocked and beaten down when challenges come.
Fourth, I didn’t expect Jason to be so different from my dad and my brother-in-law. Before getting married, my dad and my brother-in-law were the examples I had of husbands. I knew that Jason was different, but I still had unconscious expectations that he would like the same things they liked or respond to situations the same ways they did.
It didn’t take long though for me to realize Jason is very different. It was definitely a learning curve for me to avoid responding to Jason as though he were my dad or my brother-in-law. For example, it was easy to get frustrated with Jason when he used a certain tone of voice because that same tone of voice meant something very specific when my dad used it. But it took me awhile to realize Jason’s tones of voices are different from my dad’s.
Jason also demonstrates his love in different ways than my dad and my brother-in-law do. It would be all too easy to try to fit Jason into the mold of my dad or my brother-in-law and want him to show me love the same ways they do for their wives. But Jason is different. For example, Jason quickly jumps in to help with kitchen duties when I’m feeling overwhelmed. He will even semi-frequently just come into the kitchen and whip up something yummy to eat. It took some practice to recognize Jason’s acts of love since they are so different from the examples I witnessed prior to marriage.
Finally, I was prepared for how clumsy I would become in the kitchen. On a humorous, yet very true note, I found out I am not as coordinated in the kitchen as I liked to think prior to marriage. Not too long after I got married I began noticing I was having more mishaps in the kitchen than I was used to. These mishaps usually involved various sharp objects and cutting my fingers. This didn’t happen before I was married!
I mentioned it to Mom one day, and she simply pointed out that I was spending more time in the kitchen now so it just makes sense that there would be more mishaps. I thought I spent a lot of time in the kitchen before I got married, but she was right. I hadn’t been preparing two to three meals a day like I was after we were married.
Now it’s simply a matter of slowing down and avoiding hasty actions that might possibly result in new mishaps.
Make sure you check out the other five bloggers who are also talking about transitioning from singleness to marriage.