I have this fear of marriage.
I’m less than a month away from becoming a wife, and I have this pit in my stomach when I think about living together forever with this man.
Not because I don’t love him.
Not because I don’t want to marry him.
But I’m afraid of what marriage will do to us. How it will change us. That five, ten years from now, we’ll wake up one morning and not recognize who we’ve become.
You can’t date too long before well-meaning people begin to offer you their relationship advice. And a funny thing about advice – it’s usually born from a negative experience. Ever notice that? Friends would quietly whisper to me how to avoid having that fight; seasoned wives gave warnings of the glow dimming, the fondness fading, how to grow comfortable with mediocrity; older women would chuckle to themselves when I’d chirp about how we valued communication and honesty. What a sweetheart, she doesn’t know what she’s in for.
I think part of my fear was born out of that response. Women worn down with their own relationship baggage didn’t want me to make the same mistakes they had – but also wanted me to soften my expectations of a life-long love and friend, to show me that they, too, were once naive of the way things work.
To be quite honest, the five years of dating my now-fiancé have not always been easy, but then, the reason I’m with him isn’t just for ease. True relationships are hard work. There is no sugar- coating the truth that when two different people decide to live life side-by-side there will be ugly messes and painful conversations.
Being with another person is like constantly holding up a mirror on yourself that points out all your flaws and mistakes. I can’t turn away when my pride causes him pain, because I care about how he feels. I can’t easily brush off my angry words when I see how I’ve cut him down. I am constantly humbled and shown how much I have to learn and grow.
Being with another person who loves you not in spite of your flaws but because of them is one of the most beautiful things on this sweet earth. Just like the worn-out analogy of a seed having to burst through its own protective skin to grow, the most beautiful parts of our relationship have come from the most broken places.
While I know our relationship will change and the honeymoon feelings will ebb and flow as we age together, I’ve put up a protective barrier in my mind around our marriage. I know I want to fight fiercely to honor our commitment to one another and the fact that at the end of the day we just plan ol’ like being with each other. I don’t want to lose that feeling of pure happiness running through my veins when I say that one thing that gets him to laugh that one way. When I
tell him I’m okay and he immediately knows that I need to talk. When his hand finds mine in the middle of a moment and squeezes, reminding me I’m not alone. I so badly want to continue getting to know him even when we are eighty years old and raise our wrinkled eyebrows to one another as we say, “I didn’t know that about you!”
In five, ten years, I know we’ll be different. We’ll have grown and lost and loved and fought. A hundred things we never imagined will have happened. We will be stretched and pushed into new figures as life comes at us fast; but I am hoping and praying that we’ll be molded closer together, that the new shape we take on will be one that is unified. Maybe even in that newness, that change, that shifting, we’ll be recognizable, two separate pieces that work better connected. That when we look at each other, we see something that is familiar and warm, where we are known. Home.
I have this fear of marriage.