When I got married, I was met with a few realities that I never expected. I thought I was weird for having encountered these realities until I spoke to a few other married folk, only to realize that the experiences were mutual. I thank God that I was prepared for some of these realities thanks to pre-marital counselling and my walk with God. However, there are some that I was not prepared for. The following are 4 important things that may seem casual but should be taken seriously for anyone (especially followers of Jesus Christ) who plan to get married. These are the four things that they don’t tell you when you get married
- You will very likely lower your living standards
This is not a one-size fits all tip. There are individuals who are very well off on their own- perhaps even wealthier than their parents. However, there are a number of young people (especially those from the middle class and the rich families) whose parents live very comfortably. And by comfortable I mean privileges such as Wi-Fi in the house, disposable income for entertainment, access to more than one car etc. If you grew up in such a home and started out with your new spouse on your own, you will realize that you cannot maintain the living standard of your parents as you begin your marriage- especially when you are young and haven’t worked for a while. Often, the truth is that your parents took a while to get where they are. When Turi and I got married, we had each worked for less than 2 years (excluding volunteer, internship and part time work). We were each earning enough money to start off our home, however not enough to live luxuriously like our parents. We realized w e would have to temporarily forego some benefits. When the reality that I had to lower my living standards from that of my parents hit me, I must admit I was taken aback. For 21 years I had grow up in my parents’ house that always had a stocked fridge, disposable money and access to many luxuries. I knew about budgets and I had used them before, though not often. Here I was getting married at 22 turning 23 when I realized that budgets were more than accounts for money spent; they were plans for how to spread you resources faithfully. That meant your resources were spread based on how much money you had not on how much money you wanted. While I could afford eating out more than thrice a week in fancy restaurants and using a taxi at my parents’ house, I realized that some of those things were privileges now that I was newly married. That was my parents’ money. If you plan to get married and happen to come from a comfortable family, and are starting out in the job market, realize that you will lower your living standards from that of your parents. It is not a bad thing. The experience taught me to be faithful with our money and to differentiate between needs and wants. Jesus said if you are faithful in little, God will entrust you with more. Throughout our marriage, by the goodness of God, Turi and I have grown in our careers and now earn more than when we first began. If you want to get a glimpse of this truth- just ask your parents how they began.
2.Faithfulness in your marriage is not automatic
I had a false notion when I got married that it would be the end of all my woman problems. The truth is that we live in a sinful world where a wedding band around your finger means nothing to some people. I have found it extremely wise to not assume that every relationship with every female I meet will be as platonic as a relationship with my sisters. Nay! The Holy Spirit has charged me to be very wise when interacting with other women, especially those with whom I would be required to interact with closely because of work or ministry. I’m learning that making a commitment to your spouse to be faithful does not make you capable; it makes you accountable. It may look queer to some people when I refuse to engage intimately with certain women in ministry and direct them to someone else instead. However, the Spirit convicts me that those intimate talks in the name of helping people could lead to fond relationships that could lead to a divided heart. And you may be thinking that I’m talking about full-blow adultery here, but that’s not necessarily the case. Emotional infidelity is a painful thing to undergo in any relationship. It’s easy to pour out your heart to someone else who may not be your spouse; it’s nothing sexual, but what happens is that people who harbour our hearts’ outpouring end up being admired. You may not sleep with someone but your devotion to them and not your spouse is evident and clear as day. Your marriage ought to be exclusive. Wisdom guarantees that I don’t need to experience it to find out. When you get married, Beloved, you faithfulness and dedication is a choice that you must actively work to maintain. No one gets married intending to be unfaithful (even emotionally). However unfaithfulness seems to thrive when men and women assume that the small foxes cannot tear down the wall.
- You will see more attractive people than your spouse
The truth is that there are people better than you in this world. They have better looks. They have better personalities. They have better behaviours. They have better money habits. They have better opinions. They have better ideas and they are generally just better than you. If you don’t believe that, you will get hurt, Beloved, on account of your pride. Believe it! Some of these things attracted you to your partner. The tragedy of the sinful world in relationships is that these temporal and changeable characteristics become their basis for settling down with someone. So when they see better offers, they jump ship and want the better package. The core problem with this isn’t that you fell out of love with your girl or Mr. Biceps has better looks, or that the other person is a better candidate for marriage than the one you married- no. The core of the problem is that you have a sinful discontented heart and that you use relationships to receive rather than to give. If your sole purpose in a relationship is to receive, then you will only commit as long as your partner is up to par with the “market rate” of looks, financial stability, personality charm etc. When I got married, I told myself that Turi is the most beautiful woman for me- that decision and the commitment to serve her tramps all the short skirts this world can show me. I even say that if beauty was measured in brick, my wife would be Great Wall of China. My marriage isn’t defined by my feelings but by the commitment I made. Tim Keller once said: Relationships are costly. Whatever it will cost you to be with God is nothing compared to what it cost God on that cross to be with you. Christ demonstrated servitude and commitment on that cross. Every spouse should therefore aim to take care of themselves and improve themselves not to compete for their spouse’s admiration but rather for the sole purpose of being a better servant in the marriage. So I work on my weaknesses so that I can be a better spouse for Turi. I ensure my health is great so that I can provide for her and even look good for her- you’re only married in this lifetime. If you fathom what it took Christ to love you, you will not find it a burden to sacrifice anything for your spouse in light of his example.
- Movies distort reality
Lastly, movies distort the reality of marriage. Before I got married, I made very strict decisions concerning my entertainment because of sexual purity and for the sake of honouring God. When I got married, those convictions were strengthened. I discovered that the sensual movies I avoided while dating gave a warped view of sex, a warped view of relationships and a warped view of marriage. I was glad I had unsubscribed from them a long time before I got married. I imagined the danger it would have caused had I brought into my marriage the false ideals that movies and entertainment show about marriage. You don’t need to learn about sex from movies. You don’t need to borrow relationship guidelines from TV series and you don’t need celebrities and TV personalities to give you relationship advice. Most of it (if not all) is pure deception. The Word of God and seasoned and wise men and women are all you need, Beloved. Many movies create false expectations for you and they will leave you frustrated when you find that in reality marriage is different from what they portray. Different does not mean worse. I strongly believe that if you get into a marriage in God’s plan you will experience love that is way better than any Hollywood director can express. God is romantic! God is passionate. God is a matchmaker and above all God is the author of marriage. Trust his word more than the vain imaginings of sinful men.