Real Talk About Marriage
READ TIME: 6 MINUTES
I’m writing this post for two people:
The person who’s already married and the person who isn’t.
I’m writing to the Priska who entered marriage with NO CLUE what it would take to grow that relationship into a healthy, thriving one. And I’m writing to the Priska who’s married, sees everyone else’s marriage highlight reel on Instagram, and wonders if she’s the only one who struggles to love her husband well.
If you identify with either of those two, then this blog post will be a treat for you!
Without further ado, here are the realities of marriage that I think need revealing:
Marriage is weird.
Married sex is different.
Everything about you — good and bad — will affect your spouse.
Marriage is weird
I got married at 26 years old. Up until that point, I witnessed a poor marriage between my parents, and the divorce and chaos that followed. I honestly believed marriage was just part of adult life that you had to “deal with”. While my friends were planning their perfect wedding on Pinterest, I was living an anti-marriage lifestyle by serial dating.
That may seem confusing, so let me quickly explain… I was dating guys who needed me without letting myself date someone whom I could depend on, too. Partly because I had a savior complex and partly because I always wanted to have the upper hand. Neither of these mindsets is in line with biblical marriage, which is two people allowing God to bring them together and create one unit where they are vulnerable with each other. In a godly marriage, neither person is the savior of the other, because Christ Jesus is the Savior of them individually and as a unit.
(If that’s ambiguous, leave a comment so I can further elaborate!)
Anyway, I met Russell when I was 25 years old. Imagine me: the young woman whose idea of marriage is so mutilated that I swore I wouldn’t get married until my late 30s when I would technically need a spouse to raise children. (Not for love…)
To go from that girl, to a year later being married and trying to:
Love Russell more than myself.
Trust Russell, this person I’d only known for a year.
Respect Russell, when I’ve always made my own decisions.
Cherish Russell’s love more than the love of my family & friends.
It WAS weird.
It’s STILL weird.
I still need daily reminding that my job as a wife who took a covenant of love before the Lord is to love and prioritize Russell’s needs over my own. Even when I don’t feel he’s loving me, my job is to love him. That’s so abnormal…
To how I’ve lived for the entirety of my existence.
To how our society teaches us marriage should be.
To how I’ve seen it modeled by many other people who’ve ended up in broken marriages or divorced.
For a healthy marriage, your mindset has to shift from “me, my needs, my priorities” to “us, our needs, our priorities”.
It’s a radical change! I don’t know how long it will take for that to become my norm, but judging from other happily married couples, somewhere between 10 years and the rest of my life. Good thing we committed to that! Russell & I will spend our lifetime learning to love each other the way Christ loves the Church:
Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ.
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the Church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything He does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.
If you’re single/dating/engaged and considering someone to be your spouse, think about if you’re willing to put in the work every day with him until death parts you. Maybe you realize that bro ain’t worth it! Or maybe you realize that Man of God could be your partner for a lifetime of love!
If you’re married, are you remembering daily to submit your own desires to the Lord and look after the needs of your spouse? How can you encourage other married couples to LOVE LIKE JESUS?
Married sex is different
Unmarried sex is fake.
It’s probably my most unpopular stance, but I know God is asking me to lead this discussion, because He has better for us as His holy people. And because I would know. I was promiscuous before I got married, and I know how appealing it seems in the moment. It seems completely natural and harmless. Until you get pregnant. Or an STD. Or you have explicit memories with some ole bro that you can’t seem to shake. Or you put unrealistic sexual expectations on your husband because of what you’re “used to”. The list goes on. These are just consequences I’ve experienced and/or seen.
Unmarried sex is this: “I want your body, but not you entirely. I want your body now, but I don’t know if I want you for life.”
Christian sex within marriage should be OUTSTANDING because we’ve already made a commitment to be together no matter what, and that allows us to take down the pretenses that block us from experiencing total unity outside of marriage.
Married sex is a decision to come together that should be reflective of your covenant of unity.
Christians should experience the greatest pleasures in the bedroom, but when we settle for a copy of secular society’s fake broken sex, then of course we’re going to be left dissatisfied.
There’s this great quote whose source I can’t remember, but it goes something like this:
“Satan will do whatever is in his power to get Christians outside of marriage to have sex. Once they’re married, he’ll do everything in his power to keep them from having sex.”
And I’ve seen that to be true for sooo many people, myself included.
The Most Common Love Story
The most common “love story” I’ve heard in the past decade is this... A woman tries to pacify her guilty conscience for having sex before marriage by marrying the guy whom she’s sleeping with. And more often than not, they end up divorced. Why? Because two wrongs don’t make a right. God can purify both of you, but you shouldn’t marry a guy because you’re already sleeping together, but because you can honestly commit to loving him every day for the rest of your life.
If you resonate with that life circumstance, you should read this blog post I wrote about the chemical & hormonal changes that occur when you have sex, causing you to think unclearly and irrationally:
Truthfully, I’m not writing about this delicate topic to guilt you. I’m writing this to extend the hope of Jesus to you. God can purify you, no matter what you’ve done. The question is…will you let Him? Will you confess your sins to Him, receive forgiveness, and walk purely?
Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.
Everything about you will affect your spouse
Before I was married, I was aware of some of my character flaws and attitude issues. I managed them fine, because I lived alone and was living the American dream of autonomy. Nobody could correct me, because I didn’t let other people see my flaws. The few friends who did see flaws weren’t given permission to bring them up.
At the office, I was a good worker.
At church, I was a good member.
At home, I was wrestling demons. My personal ones were: impatience, railroading people’s emotions & ideas, having crazy mood swings, having a depressed day or two each month. I knew it wasn’t “good” in the sense that God wanted a good life for me, but it’s normal for everyone to have their closet issues, right?
Well, fast forward to today and I just started therapy. I’ve always had anger issues. I hold on tightly to bitterness & resentment. And my depressed days are more frequent than I care to admit.
The deciding factor in my decision to get help is that I realized my husband, who is the most stable and peaceful person I’ve ever known, was being affected negatively by my mental state.
It’s unfortunate that I didn’t get help before, and frankly I would have just “managed it” for the rest of my life. I wish I would have cared more about my personal mental state to get help years ago, but I can’t change the past.
My point in this is to encourage you… If you’re having mental health issues, and you’re just “managing it”, get help:
Tell your friends so they can help you battle it in prayer.
Ask for pastoral care.
If there are other parts of yourself that are deeply flawed, get help! Whether financial problems, eating disorders, addictions, compulsive behaviors, health issues… Get help!
Not only are you worth it, but none of us wants to negatively affect the person we love the most. I’m glad that I finally chose to seek counseling to resolve my mental issues, and I’m sure Russell will be positively affected by this decision, too.
Let me know what part of this post was most pertinent to you. Leave a comment below!
Disclaimer: I’m writing under the assumption that my readers are free and safe to build godly marriages. I know that’s not true for everyone. If you’re being abused, you need to leave and get help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233.