Nancy is not (yet!) married, but I asked her to share some of her journey towards marriage. She is one of my closest friends - we have lunch together every day in community and share life together. She is such a blessing to my life, and it has been so exciting to see her relationship with Ronald grow over the past year and see her debunking these myths she mentions in this post throughout that time:
To: “All the Unmarried Ladies (And Gentlemen)…”
A note to you, from someone who’s unmarried.
Discovering the top 5 relationship truths after years of living in a culture of not-so-true “truths.”
1. It’s all about finding the perfect person.
There are no perfect people. I used to wonder what would happen if I supposedly “found the perfect person” when I was already with someone else. Would I leave the one I was with for the seemingly perfect one? Would I regret being in the relationship I was in?
Now, granted, I am not married, but I am in a relationship with pretty amazing guy who also happens to be one of my teammates and best friend. Throughout the period of our relationship, other guys have come along, and to be honest, I have found myself thinking “what would my life be like if I were with so-and-so instead?”
What I found is that I didn’t want to lose what I’d constructed with Ronald, whom I treasure so much; and while it’s absolutely crucial to seek God completely in the mate selection process, I propose that the focus should be more on the construction of a treasured relationship rather than the hopeless treasure hunt for the perfect person.
2. Honeymoon sex will be glitch-free.
I have found that I, like many young single women, have shared these expectations that everything would just be “perfect” after the vows had been said. And, needless to say, I’ve received more than one phone call from a dear friend after her honeymoon letting me know that her expectations really made things difficult to live up to in the bedroom.
We learn in church to not have sex till we’re married. But what happens after marriage? Sadly, Hollywood has written the curriculum when it comes to widespread sex education, leading to expectations that are not so realistic. Now, mind you, I’m not trying to minimize one of the most amazing things God created, but, can I just be blunt for a minute? Hollywood totally failed to mention the awkward moments many newlyweds have trying to figure things out? Where are bathroom trips before and/or after couples “fall in love” and “fall into bed” together?
We could make a list of unrealistic things that happen in the movies and not on the honeymoon or really anywhere soon after. Studies show that most couples experience the best sex at 16-20 years of marriage. What Hollywood-influenced lies are we believing about our current or future sex life? How is that affecting our expectations of ourselves or our partner, and ultimately, intimacy?
3. Conflict is bad--Avoid it at all costs!
In my house, when my parents had a disagreement, the atmosphere became a pregnant thundercloud enveloping our house, threatening to burst and spew its contents at any moment. My parents were very good about discussing their disagreements away from us, but even so, the general feeling in the house was that if you can avoid a conflict, do so at all costs.
However, since before I began dating Ronald, I found that conflict is actually an opportunity to learn something new about the other person and grow closer to them. There are two things I found to be essential in working through conflict:
The first is choosing not to react. I’m not talking about the silent treatment, nor am I talking about being passive aggressive, because both of those things would also be classified as reacting. I am talking about taking a step back, asking God for his opinion on the situation while putting my own feelings aside, and then acting.
The second is not assuming. When I take a moment (either then or later on after we’ve both cooled down) to actually ask Ronald more about where he is coming from (and vice versa), many times, we find that something one of us had originally assumed is simply not true. The conflict at hand is rarely the “real” conflict for us. Past hurts, lies we have unconsciously chosen to believe or misconceptions about the other person or about God all play a part in the roots of the conflicts that arise between us.
Now I’m not claiming that these are fix-it-all relationship tools, but they definitely help to grow closer to one another instead of apart.
4. “Falling in love” will get you through marriage and life.
And maybe get you to be through with a marriage if that’s all you’re going on. Just because you don’t “feel” in love with someone does not mean that that person is no longer for you. It just means that you have to choose to love that person even when you don’t feel it.
5. Marriage is a magical transformation.
Yes, it’s true, two become one. But, I’m learning that the “becoming” takes longer than the two seconds it takes to say “I do.” You really are never actually “ready” or have everything figured out before you walk down the isle. Marriage is something that is constructed, rather than given to us in a pretty gift- wrapped box. I am realizing that no two marriages are the same, and that many times, both individuals’ personal abilities to communicate, problem solve, and their own understanding of their identity in Christ are all key indicators to what type of marital relationship they will have. I am learning that a truly healthy marriage is really impossible if it only involves two people- Christ must be the center of every flourishing marriage.
There are so many more things that I’m learning through this incredible experience of preparing for marriage and sharing life with those who are already married. I am so thankful for this season of life.
Nancy is a missionary in Lima, Peru, with Oikos church where she is head of pastoral care. She loves to make headbands and paint when she is not dealing with the latest crisis and hopes to get married to Ronald in the not too distant future!