I may not be married yet, but in a strange way being a young man looking forward to getting married has taught me some wisdom about marriage worth sharing. My experience might not be every young man or woman’s out there, but it certainly is the same for many I believe. So I thought I should write this to help us appreciate the reality of what marriage will be for us.
If you asked any young man or woman what they picture marriage to be like for them someday, they will probably tell you what is considered the average good. They’ll try not to paint an overly expectant image, while carefully communicating hope theirs will be even better. But if you searched deeper into their heart of hearts, you’ll be amused by some of the imaginations we hide in our treasure chests. We don’t all enlist in some wild goose chase of an American Dream, but we all dream good for our marriages.
It one time shocked me when I gave careful thought to the images I’d play in my head of my future marriage. There would always be the beautiful, spacious home with nicely arranged Victor Oduru furniture. Occasionally we’d be together in the kitchen cooking and sometimes having those little flour ball fights. Then we would sit for dinner, feed each other and chat the night away. I would wake up to Isla’s baby like smile beside me, gently kiss her good morning and then step out for work. Before long we would be back in each other’s arms and the cycle would just repeat. How lovely! Eden must be back right?
I’m definitely not the only one. Countless other young people wish the same. It seems rather so natural to just create the blissful part of life whenever we imagine what our marriages will be like. I’d like to help us back to reality by addressing a few of the fantasies one at a time.
The candle lit dinner
There is no harm in hoping for sweet dinner experiences for just you two before the kids come. You can even extend the sweetness to someday later when the kids arrive and you are one big happy family. The one thing you should remember though is that the dinner will not just appear like it does in your mind. Food is bought and money is earned, and that process will not always be pleasing. The toil is real, and it will in fact constitute the most of your day. Maybe for every two hours of wonderful fellowship over a sumptuous meal there will be eight hours of work put in.
Sometimes cooking won’t be fun. Either one or the both of you will be too tired coming from the day’s hustle. Will you still serve each other even then? Other times it will be a meal you just have to eat because it’s what you can afford. It won’t taste as sweet as you’d wish. If you are to enjoy your every dinner experience, I suggest you begin purposing to enjoy the person you’ll share them with than focusing on the candles and food; and that won’t be easy.
The memorable sex and the peaceful sleep through the night
No one thinks sex won’t always be as great as they imagine it in marriage. Has it ever occurred to you that you may have been too selfish? Dave Harvey, in his book When Sinners Say I do, introduces an entirely new perspective to sex. He says that we should approach it with a giver’s attitude and not a receiver’s. We should pursue to serve our spouse rather than be served, even in sex. Your fantasies might get you thinking you’ll enjoy sex every single night of your marriage, while in actual sense you won’t. Neither of you is a machine to achieve that.
You probably also didn’t know that before your spouse can willfully with gladness give their bodies to you, you should first have touched their hearts. The person you are to pursue has never been the flesh you see, but the soul within. That’s whom you are to seek intimacy with. The memorable physical intimacy you keep looking forward to is only a brief result of the lifelong emotional and spiritual intimacy you are to spend your every minute investing on.
That bouncy mattress, the king size bed, the bright net surrounding you, the dimly lit lamp beside your bed, the cozy curtains hanging over your bedroom windows, none of those bring the peaceful sleep and the glowing smile upon waking up. Joy and peace come from God through that person beside you. It will come by you first offering that very peace and fulfilment you seek. Ever offering grace even despite their multitude of sins (1Peter 4:8).
The sweet making up after an argument
It’s crazy that even when we picture fights in our future marriages, we still find a way to make a romantic image of them. Somehow we imagine a warm embrace and a kiss amidst flowing tears will do the trick. It’s good we aren’t naïve enough to imagine we won’t be having conflicts, but it is sad we often think getting past them will be some walk in the park. Conflicts don’t end until pride is overcome and grace sets in. This calls for dying to self and it will be difficult. It will mean serving your spouse when they are undeserving. It will require the humility to acknowledge sins committed against each other and the resolve to turn away from them. That’s how issues are dealt with, they are not just kissed away.
The awesome kids running around the house
Everybody dreams of having little angels of children. We imagine what they’ll look like, sometimes even to details like the shape of their heads and hairstyles. We imagine them playing around and coming to us hurt sometimes, then we hug them warm enough to dry their tears and up they go again back to playing ball. We smile at the thought of them because in our fantasies we laugh every time we are with them. Foolish us for selfishly thinking they will be instruments of pleasure and joy to us when in reality they are God’s children for His Kingdom purposes to whom we are only stewards.
Watching them grow will be fun so many times, but raising them up in godliness will not. Before soaking in the excitement of how you’ll be feeding them, first consider that it will cost you to buy that food. Before you wishfully think of how they’ll be running around the house smiling, be willing to stand their annoying endless cries over ‘nothing’. Think beyond the adorable children you hope to have, and start imagining the godly men and women you hope to someday release into the world and present to God as evidence of your faithfulness.
The wonderful old couple
We know how well to end our marriage fantasies. There’s always that celebrated old couple we imagine ourselves as. Maybe you are surrounded by all these loving children and grandchildren. Everything seems to have turned out perfect. I hope for such too. But I know it comes with a lifetime of unrelenting effort to honor God among the lives around me. I know I cannot live my life preoccupied with getting and expect to be hailed as one who gave. I cannot expect to make all my life about myself, marriage and family and expect that others will celebrate me as one who was a blessing to them.
Along the way illnesses will come, bodies will waste away, efforts will go unappreciated and sometimes relationships will be lost. The wonderful old couple will only be wonderful because of their selfless giving to each other and to the world around them. They will be wonderful because they understood that fulfillment and joy can only be birthed from faithfulness and so faithfully honored God in everything He called them to do. They will be wonderful not because they were perfect, but because they steadfastly trusted a perfect God.
There is no harm in hoping for all the wonderful things marriage has to offer. Though our fantasies may blind us, it is possible for the things we dream to happen. The only caution is that we should never forget the little everyday things that go into making each of our dreams. They are the most important and God gives every ability necessary to accomplish them. Moreover, they will make up the most part of our marriages. So they are worth giving more attention than the fun we can’t wait to have.