Do you sometimes wonder what marriage will be like? Of course, I believe we all do before we’re married…especially when we are looking for a spouse, are in a serious relationship, are engaged, or even are newlyweds. Sometimes certain things can come as a big surprise, even if you think you are the most prepared person on the planet. Below, I have listed five major bullet points explaining what unmarried people may not know about married life. I took them from our experiences as newlyweds, as well as what I see in the culture we live in.
1) Love is not a feeling. “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) I know that many Christians use this passage for weddings, which I think is wonderful. However, many times, people do not actually absorb what St. Paul says here. If you haven’t already done so, read the passage over again and think about each phrase individually.
Did you read it? Great.
Patience, kindness, selflessness, etc., are all acts we must express in marriage every day. Where does St. Paul say it’s a warm and cuddly feeling? He doesn’t. We are called to love our spouses in the way St. Paul calls us to do. Our culture and the media make love out to be something you feel. I can’t tell you how many times I hear on television, “I don’t love him/her anymore.” The “love” these people talk about is not love. It is infatuation, and eventually, it can fade. However, love is everlasting if you follow St. Paul’s teaching. Don’t take it lightly, because love “endures all things.”
2) You don’t always have to agree. I’m sure long-time couples already know this is true. When my husband and I were dating, we definitely argued and disagreed on several things. It wasn’t fun, but once we came to a conclusion, we realized it drew us closer as a couple. And now, it’s the same way. Anytime we argue, I realize following the argument that it strengthens our marriage. I’m sure you know that I’m not a psychologist or an expert, but I do know from personal experience that we are better and stronger because of it. And what’s the fun in never arguing about anything? I know I learn so much more about my husband when we argue or disagree. So, just know, arguing and/or disagreeing is not always a bad thing. It can be a great benefit to your relationship and/or marriage. And if you haven’t argued and/or disagreed with your boyfriend, girlfriend, betrothed, or spouse, don’t think you won’t. It will happen eventually, and hopefully, you’ll find it a blessing following the cross.
3) Time with friends lessens after you’re married. This is something I never really thought about before I met my husband. I was so accustomed to spending time with my friends whenever I wanted that this never crossed my mind. My husband and I eventually had to learn to spend time with our friends together because our vocation calls us to be devoted to one other. A typical day consists of one or both of us going to work, and when my husband comes home from work, it’s time for dinner. Before we know it, it’s time for bed. We have to carefully plan our time with friends, otherwise it won’t ever happen. When you’re working with two different schedules, ensuring time with my husband trumps ensuring time with our friends. Eventually, there comes a point where you have to ensure time with family before friends. We don’t neglect our friends, there’s just not as much time for them due to obligations to one another and to our families.
4) Quality time is important.
Why is this important? It’s important because it is one of the key aspects that will hold your marriage together. I’ve heard from other couples that if you don’t be careful, you could end up living two different lives. Right now, you’d think that would never happen, but it easily can. My husband and I make a point to spend quality time with one another, even if it is just sitting down to eat dinner together. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but making sure to spend quality time with your spouse is one of the most important aspects of keeping a relationship strong. You never want to get to a point where you live separate lives as husband and wife.
5) Selflessness is key. I know that this is common knowledge among the Catholic vocation of marriage, but I’m discussing this because I know our culture says otherwise. You can’t go into a marriage thinking “he/she is supposed to serve me.” The marriage is not about you—“it does not seek its own interests.” It’s about your spouse and God. In work, in daily duties, in your time spent together, and in intimacy. Every day is a constant dying of self. It’s a tough thing to do at times because of our human nature, but this must be our goal in this vocation.
So there you have it. I know I did not cover everything, but these are the principles I felt the Holy Spirit called me to cover. Many prayers and blessings to you and yours. Happy Independence Day!
Jacqueline Burkepile writes from the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. She freelances for the North Texas Catholic, The Texas Catholic, and the National Catholic Register.