When we went to premarital counseling at our church, there was a lot of talking. We had a workbook, someone talked to us about marriage. We ourselves, however, did very little talking in premarital counseling.
I guess that was all well and good. I was 24, I didn’t know how to express myself well. I was
kind of quite immature and Alex and I were embarking on this deep thing and it was kind of stressful.
So if you’re on the other side of this screen, and you’re deep in your head cycling about what marriage is going to be like for you, here’s two short things for you to think about.
First, this is totally normal. It’s healthy even to contemplate the future. Don’t let the unknowns control you because there’s nothing worse than living anywhere other than the present, in the land of What Is, not What Was, or What will Be.
Secondly, if you find yourself mucking about in the unknowns, recenter on this one question: What do you want your marriage to be?
Deep into marriage, there’s going to be circling- circling each other, the elephant in the room, deep and exciting changes- babies, pets, jobs. Life is like that. And sometimes you’ll find that you and your spouse are circling in different places. And you need to come back to something. That something for us has always, even when we didn’t realize it, this issue of what we want our marriage to be. Coming back to that is really helpful in these moments where we don’t know what to do or what the hell is happening.
I wish that someone had asked us that, instead of talking at us about marriage. 15 years in, we’re just learning to ask ourselves that. What do we want our family to stand for after we look after ourselves? A lot of days, the answer is “we don’t know.” Some years have honestly only been about us, slogging through depression, adoption, babies and toddlers. And that’s ok.
Establishing yourself in marriage is a really introspective and personal thing. As we’ve moved along in marriage we’ve been privileged to walking along some extraordinary people, some of whom struggle immensely with circumstances beyond their control. As we move along with this question of what we want our marriage to be, we’ve realized the answer for us lies with where the Lord carries us. Right now it’s to be a place where people can come and sit on our couch and drink wine and stare at our TV, or talk about life, and find in our home, non drama filled (for the moment anyways) friends who can be there for them when they need it. So we center ourselves in the fragile but unwavering faith that the if we walk with the Lord, he’ll take us where we need to go.
Asking and thinking and dreaming about your marriage will take you to places that are really hard and beautiful. And over time, I hope you discover that your marriage becomes equal parts about you and about the world around you. And it’s ok if it takes 15 years to come to that place, or 20 or forever. Marriage is ever changing, and ever changing you. That’s the beauty of it.