J and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary on Tuesday. It got me thinking about what it means to be married. When you stop and think about it, it really is a funny thing. Our culture focuses so intently on the wedding, that it seems like the wedding is the end rather than the beginning. In the majority of movies and stories, we follow the courtship and then the story ends with two people coming together. Rarely do we ever see what comes after the exchanging of vows. What does 'happily ever after' even look like anyway?
When J and I tied the knot and moved into our first apartment together in Northwest Portland, I found adjusting to married life very difficult. I won't lie; it was a total shock! I remember looking at him one day in those early months of marriage and wondering, "When is he going to go home?" Of course, within a split second, I realized, "Oh my god. He is home." There he was, just sitting on the couch reading a book.
I didn't really have much of an idea of what I thought marriage would be like before getting into it. Not consciously anyway. But when I look back, there is one thing I consciously thought marriage would include and that was reading together before bed at night - in the bed. I imagined we would get ready for bed, teeth brushed, faces washed, night cream applied, and read magazines or books until we were tired. Then we'd lay down our reading material on our nightstands, switch out our lamps and snuggle up and go to sleep.
Marriage has failed me on this one. Despite the fact that I have set up every bedroom we've had with nightstands and lamps to make it all possible, that's just not what we do. And it's not something I'm missing either! For whatever reason, in my mind, that was a big part of marriage and in reality, it's not part of our marriage at all. I guess that idea must have come from watching shows like Bewitched or The Brady Bunch as a kid. In any case, how funny is that? Marriage is so abstract until you're in it.
If you're newlywed or engaged, congratulations! And here are some realistic and inspiring resources to help make the most out of it:
The first act of this podcast is great.
And here is the accompanying article. Also great.
The Five Love Languages (know yours, know your spouse's!)
Basically the marriage bible.
And if you don't already, you've got to love yourself (like really love yourself) to be successful in a marriage.
If you're married, what did you think marriage would be like? How did it live up to - or fail to meet - your expectations?
(Photo via Beige Renegade)