It's been 12 weeks since the start of my series on marriage, Beyond the Big Day. 12 weeks of advice from friends, family, local wedding professionals, and even my own husband. 12 weeks of diving deeper into what people mean when they say that "marriage is hard" and "marriage takes work."
When I got married, I remember wishing people had been more honest with me. Sure, people warned me that marriage isn't easy (and it's not), and they told me that there are a lot of ups and downs (and there are). While all this is true, there were a lot of people that would give me vague advice without diving deep into what marriage really looks like from day to day. I had a wonderful example of marriage growing up, but besides that I felt like I was guessing on what to do in a lot of ways.
So let me be completely honest when talking about marriage. Marriage is difficult for a lot of reasons. It's difficult because you do not truly know someone before you say "I do." It's impossible. Even for couples living together, there's a mentality that the relationship could end, even if you don't think it will. Marriage solidifies that bond for life in an ideal situation.
Marriage is hard because you change and your spouse changes. I've written about this before, but I'll say it again. When we got married, Nathan was an engineer with a steady job. He never wanted to leave the place where he was working and had no desire to travel. I, on the other hand, never wanted to settle down or buy a house. I slept in as late as possible before running into work, barely getting there on time each day.
Fast forward less than 5 years, and Nathan is working at our church, with plans to attend seminary in the fall. I have lived in the same house for almost 5 years, and efficiently run my own small business. We both love to travel and try exotic foods.
All of those are good changes, and they were necessary for us to go through, but not one single change has come without conflict during the transition. It's difficult to marry someone and then go through a lot of personal changes. We've been through health challenges, a major surgery, and family struggles. We've tried to sell our house and been unsuccessful. We've traveled together and we've spent a lot of time apart when Nathan had to travel for work. We're now on the waiting list to bring our little one home.
Marriage is not something that you can explain in one blog post, or even in twelve. It looks different for each couple - both in good and difficult ways. My goal with Beyond the Big Day was to look at a wide variety of perspectives and marriages to show you that above all, your marriage is your own. Just because you don't fight much the first year doesn't mean you are 'in for it' later (yep, real advice someone told me!) and just because you fight a lot during the first year doesn't mean you're doomed forever.
Make your marriage your own. Don't let the opinions, influences, and experiences of other people make you think your relationship is worse or drastically different. Listen to advice from wise people in your life, and then take that and let your experiences grow with you. Love your spouse, love your family, love your friends, and stay married. And that's the best advice I can possibly give.
Thanks for spending these last 12 weeks with me - it's been an honor!
Click here to read more from the Beyond the Big Day series.