Friday, October 28, 2005

Marriage 101: "Getting to Know Yourself"

I always find it interesting when I hear people say that “they learned a lot about themselves in the first year of marriage”. Everyone says it! I guess I am not nosey enough to ask what they mean. And since I am not married I have no idea from experience what they are talking about. What do people “learn” about themselves that they did not know already? What would I learn about me that I do not already know?

I can see learning so much more about your spouse in the first year of marriage. You see them eating, drinking, sleeping, lounging, hurt, angry, joyful… in many different settings than before marriage. This is who you have married and there are no secrets now.

So what is it??? What do people learn about themselves??? Would I learn that table manners matter to me? Nope, I already know that. Would I learn that I am frustrated when people talk over me? Nope, I already knew that. Would I learn that I get grumpy when I am tired, aggravated when I am rushed, impatient when I am not listened to? Would I learn that I like a clean kitchen, do not want shoes in the house, love to organize, need my time with God to stay sane, etc. Would I learn that I can be proud, happy, impatient, goofy, sad, glad, serious, sloppy, tired and hungry? I know all these things about myself already! I know where I excel. I know where I need to improve.

So, I have reached two conclusions. First, either I am so ignorant about marriage that I will be shocked with the reality of who I am or second, people do not take the energy BEFORE marriage to understand who they are. Wait… one more. And third, people do not take marriage serious enough to fully understand the person they are marrying. So, when the honeymoon is over everyone is panicked with what they have done. Therefore, they learn a lot about themselves and the changes they have to make to who they are to accommodate the other. What, he smacks his food when eating??? Ahhh! You mean she will watch a movie that I don’t think we should see??? Oh no!

And the arguments start. The questions arise. Birth control or not? Alcohol or not? Finances, movies, music, children, theology and the list will go on. What happens to all the fluffy romance that happened before marriage? What about the giggling girl and the strong man? Where are they after marriage? Well, one of the ways to avoid the shock is to have a different perspective before pursuing a romantic relationship. Marriage is sacred. Marriage is holy. Marriage is not a game.

Therefore, my responsibility in preparing for marriage is me and my own relationship with God, my parents, my siblings and my friends. How can I prevent the pain that comes with the “testing first year” of marriage? No doubt there are adjustments that are inevitable no matter how prepared one thinks they are. Yet, I think there are certain preparations that cause a smoother, more enjoyable journey of marriage. There are problems that can be avoided if worked on before one says, “I do.”

The past year my longings to be married have increased. In my relationship with God and at the admonishment of my Godly mother, I am on a quest to know myself completely. I have asked God to give me more sensitivity to my sins. I have asked God to teach me how to be an excellent wife and mother. I am seeking to make HIM the Prince and Lover of my soul. I want to know what causes me to cry, how I act when I am tired, what is important to me and what I expect from my husband. Then, I have begun working on improving my weak spots and purifying my life from sin.

I do not want to meet “the man of my dreams” and then look in the spiritual mirror with panic and scream, “I need to loose weight!” No, now is the time for loosing the “weight” of my bad habits, sins, pet-peeves, frustrations, etc. Now is the time to be “fit” in my disciplines, convictions, passions and pursuits. Now is the time to focus my heart, attention and love on the only One who will ever be able to satisfy my soul- God Himself.

Before you raise your eyebrows too far, let me assure you that I know marriage is hard work. I know there are adjustments. I know it is a huge change. Still, I get frustrated when I see couples who are careless in their relationships, spend so little time preparing and then end up disappointed or shocked when the honeymoon is over. I do not think this pattern is how God designed marriage.

Biblical, God-centered marriage is beautiful. It is pure- in all realms. It is holy. It is glorifying to God. It bears many children. It is sacrificial, loving, caring, devoted, committed, kind and any other God-like attribute you can imagine. A marriage like that needs God’s guidance. Both people must realize who they are, where they have been, who God wants them to be and what marriage is truly about.

So this is what I seek in my own life before marriage. Marriage itself is not the end goal of my life. I will not allow it to consume my thoughts. Yet, I will prepare for it. The end goal of my life is to know Christ, love Him and have faith that pleases Him. THAT will make me better prepared to be a Godly wife and mother. Not chasing the boys, not dating anyone that asks, not even dating “good Christian guys” or “getting to know what I want in marriage by having serious relationships.”

I know what I want in marriage without giving my heart away to those who will not guard it. I know what I want my earthly prince to want in his wife. I will not settle for less.

Call me old fashion. Call me sheltered. Call me ultra-conservative. When I stand pure, ready for marriage, set apart and beaming in front of a man who has done the same for me…

…it will be worth nothing money can buy or minds can fathom.

(I love you, Mom and Dad- the guarders and protectors of my heart, the ones who instilled such fiery conviction into my soul!)

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