On Marriage and Expectations

I'm linking up with some awesome bloggers today for a series on marriage. And while I'm just shy of 10 months in on this lifelong journey, I'm excited to share the few little nuggets of wisdom I've gained along the way. I've gotten so much insight and encouragement from other vulnerable bloggers, and I hope to do the same for others.

I'm an eternal optimist, and probably even an idealist. Those closest to me have accused me of living with my head in the clouds always from time to time. I tend to have a picture in my head of how things should play out, and 99% of the time reality is completely different. And so much of the time, it crushes me.  I feel like I must be a complete failure at life when things don't turn out the way I think they should. It's something I've been working on for several years now. God has been slowly teaching me that His plans are almost always different than mine. But always better.

This has been a huge factor in our marriage. Growing up, I absolutely romanticized marriage, as most girls do. I lived under the impression that life really begins once you get married. That it would be smooth sailing after we say I do. James picked up on this, and we had a lot of serious conversations about this during our year long engagement. My head knew all along that marriage wasn't easy, but my idealist nature "assumed" everything would work itself out. How could marriage be so difficult? You're finally joined to the one you love...what's so difficult about that?

I think hollywood is largely to blame for this dangerous mindset which is so prevalent among women. We watch romantic comedies that are written with the primary goal to grab at our emotions. We expect to ride off into the sunset with our own Ryan Gosling after a picture perfect wedding. And trust me, I  used to be the queen of this way of thinking. I am so not above daydreaming of a fairytale romance.

But that's not real life.

Real life is when the florist delivers the wrong flowers on your wedding day, exchanging your blue and purple hydrangeas for white roses intertwined with something brown and plastic.
Real life is when you collapse on the turquoise rug on the bathroom floor with red puffy eyes, crying and blubbering after your first real fight as husband and wife. When you beat yourself up because you didn't realize marriage would be this hard. When you wonder if you two really are the match made in heaven that you thought you were.

You're not always going to feel "in love." Those mushy gushy feelings you felt when he slipped a ring on your finger under the moonlight are going to be the last thing on your mind when you're in the middle of a heated argument. But it's in those heated moments where the covenant you made with each other matters more than ever. Even when you don't "feel" those sappy emotions for each other, because trust me, there will be times when you won't, you will remember that you made a promise to each other. You vowed your lives to each other. And that covenant to each other far surpasses any fleeting emotions.

But that's the beauty of marriage. It's through those twists, turns, and turmoils that you really learn how to honestly love each other for better or for worse. When you both stand rooted and grounded in God and in your covenant to each other, it makes marriage so much sweeter.

It's the same in my relationship with Jesus. It demands 100% of me. It withers under complacency. It's full of hills and valleys. And when I stand firm on those trials, when I cling to my faith, that's when true beauty of the relationship is revealed. It's a refining fire that removes impurities and brings back the luster. It's God's way of restoring marriage and love to the way it was intended to be. The way He constantly refines us to makes us in the image of Himself.

Marriage has so many beautiful moments as well. The late night conversations in bed, snuggling on the couch on Saturday mornings, grabbing the other's hand in the grocery store. Marriage isn't going to start out as a PG-13 box office hit, but what you will have is better than a motion picture. It will be a real, tangible love. A love that has been tested and tried. It's a scared bond shared between two people. And that's worth fighting for.

Suffice it to say, this has been a huge lesson for me. And I've been able to apply it in so many areas of my life. I don't want to say to expect tough times, but they are going to come. In life and in marriage. And no two marriages are the same. Don't compare yourself to the couple next to you. Don't worry if you don't seem as "happy" as they are, because you never know what could be happening beneath a facade of smiles. Instead, trust God's plan for your marriage. Not your own, not anyone else's. Because God's expectations will always be far above our own.


  1. oh i just love this. and that last sentence is spot-on wonderful:) i love the idea that love is not always romantic and over the top sentimental and gushy. i have to remind myself that sometimes. it's real, which means sometimes it's totally hard. you've got such a great outlook, dear. thank you so, so much for linking up today!

  2. I LOVE this post! When Eric and I first got married I thought our marriage was a failure! I'd heard everyone rave about the first year of marriage and the "honeymoon stage" and we had already had an argument within the first month of being married (if not the first week. We were sleep deprived... haha!) People would ask me how I liked being married and I was honest with them because no one was honest with me. I told them I loved Eric and it was WORTH it being married... but it's HARD! People need to be warned that marriage isn't always a fairytale. It IS hard work. But it is soooo worth it! Good things don't come easily, right?

  3. What an absolutely amazing post. Loved it!

  4. You are so right hon, and so wise, I am an idealist too (myself, you and Morgan all used that word in our posts), and it can really trip one up can't it!? The way you shared and what you shared is so helpful for others, including me! So so happy you linked up today, what you wrote about is vulnerable and valuable and true!
    God has so much planned for our marriages, it's just we all fall so short, but if we keep bringing it under Him, we will have more and more the marriage that He planned...

  5. This is so good! Marriage is HARD! It is a relationship that needs constant maintenance. I love how God makes men and women so different because it makes you have to fight for each other every day. I can't imagine life without my husband, and I have seen where I am becoming a better person because of him. I think the coolest thing about marriage is that you have a witness to your life...every day, every little thing, good and bad. There is always someone there with me.
    Thanks for posting this, such a great read!

  6. Posted this on my blog's facebook page. Love your thoughts! I am an idealist to the core :)

    Happy Tuesday!


  7. http://www.facebook.com/GrinandBarrett7?ref=tn_tnmn. Here's the link for you to check out!


  8. I completely agree with your!! But, I can still dream about John Cusack standing outside my window holding a boom box about his head, right?

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  9. I really like this post! Marriage is so much about loving the other person for better or for worse! Thank you for sharing this!

  10. Well said. I am like you. I plan everything out in my head and am crushed when it doesn't work out. I am trying to move past this, but it's hard and let's face it life doesn't follow any plan.

  11. this is so true. and i can totally relate to being crushed over my ideals not being met. learning to love unconditionally is such a fruitful journey, isn't it?

  12. Woman, this is just so great. You and I would be such good friends.

  13. oh man, we are like forever twins with our expectations! God's been teaching me so much about letting go of what i'm anticipating, and allowing myself to be content with what's at hand. ohhhhhh, so hard though! thanks for sharing:) love Katie


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