my wedding ceremonyI didn’t know what I signed up for when I said, “I do.”

Two years ago today, luckily, I pledged my life to my best friend. Our friendship has been strong enough to get us through the tough times, but it sure would have been nice to have entered this thing with some solid advice.

Most of the unsolicited advice I was given before the big day was horrible. In hindsight, I realize that most of the advice came from people who were divorced or unhappily married. Our marriage counseling came from a Christian pastor and basically said the woman should submit to the man.

The best piece of advice came from an unlikely source. A three-time olympian husband.

I’ll get to that later. Anywho, here are some of the challenges I’ve faced in my marriage.

The Bad…

You Lose Sovereignty

sovereignty definitionFirst, let’s get something straight. By sovereign, I’m not talking about filing the paperwork to claim your strawman and taking back ownership of yourself from the government. I’m talking about being independent and autonomous. I’m talking about being self-governing.

If you enjoy being autonomous, this will be a tough pill to swallow. If not, this will not be a big deal for you. I have always very much enjoyed my independence. Sometimes maybe a little too much.

I used to take 4-hour road trips on a whim or make risky investments without consulting anyone else. I used to wake up at the crack of dawn because I like getting up early. I used to eat whatever I wanted and whip up a small meal for myself with ease. There is a lot you can do as a sovereign that will come to an end when you tie the knot.

It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s a change that is inevitable. These little things add up and can make marriage feel very restricting at times.

halloween with wifeyBefore doing certain things, you have to include, ask permission, or consult your spouse. If you don’t, then you’ll have to face the wrath of your spouse, and rightfully so.

Before taking a road trip, you have to get permission. Before cooking yourself a meal, you have to ask your spouse if they want food too. Now that quick little meal just doubled in size and dishes. Not to mention, your spouse might not like teriyaki sauce, so now you can’t cook with it and have to add it to your meal afterward, entirely changing the taste. Waking up at 5:30 am is tough when your spouse wants to stay up until 11 pm and watch a movie like a normal person.

Losing sovereignty is something that I wish I had been advised about. Instead, I received a whole bunch of, “You’re too young to be getting married,” “Don’t live together before getting married.”

Entitlement Sucks But She Doesn’t

miami vacationBeing married is a whole new ball game than being in a relationship. The day you tie the knot, entitlement sets in although it won’t start showing its head until the honeymoon phase is ending.

Before marriage, there is a balance of powers. Each individual has a readily available nuclear weapon that the other does not want them to use, the breakup. This keeps people from feeling entitled to the other person. They know their boy or girlfriend can leave them at any time. Breaking up is free and easy to do (relative to divorce). This creates a balance of powers.

Once you get married, the breakup is no longer in play. The new weapon is called divorce. It’s harder to do, way more expensive, and one person will likely get shafted.

You would now suffer through things that would have caused you to break up prior to marriage. If your spouse is drunk and kisses another man at the club, you probably wouldn’t divorce them, but you would have definitely broken up with them. If your spouse sleeps with another person, a breakup will occur swiftly, but you may or may not divorce them.

(And for the record, none of these events happened in my marriage. Just using them as examples.)

This level of difficulty in leaving the relationship changes everything. It’s human nature to take for granted and feel entitled to things we have easy access to and feel will always be there, so don’t be too hard on your spouse.

costa rica tripHow often do you think about air? How often do you think about food? You think about food way more than air even though you could fast from food for 40 days but couldn’t go 40 mins without air. Air is way more important. We feel that air will always be there, so we have a sense of entitlement to air. We take it for granted. The same thing happens with marriage to varying degrees.

The entitlement will happen to both people. The cute little things stop. The flowers stop, the dates become less often, and the surprises die down. New things get prioritized over your spouse because you feel like you have a right to be in the relationship and that your spouse isn’t going anywhere.

When you’re dating it’s like, “what can I do to woo and wow this person, so they fall deeper in love with me.” After marriage it can turn into, “how much can I get away with,” “it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission,” or “she won’t mind if I cancel date night this time because I’m covered up with work.”

It’s human nature, and I wish I had been warned or advised. Instead, I got, “If you hurt her, we’ll break your neck,” and “Make sure you put God first in your marriage.”

Be Aware Of Family Influence

heavy family influenceI was told that too much influence from either family could destroy a relationship. This was the little bit of advice I received from a two-time divorcee and three-time husband. He credits family influence for destroying one of his marriages. This is the only kind of advice I take from people who are not where I want to be. When they tell me how they failed, I appreciate it. When they tell me how to succeed, I can’t stand it.

It turned out to be the best bit of advice I received. I stayed in St. Louis less than a year after getting married. I could already see the tension being around too much family was putting on my new marriage.

It can be hard for your family to let go and give you the space you need to grow into your new marriage. I was being pressured to do things I didn’t want to do, but more importantly, my spouse didn’t want to do them.

These things can be small and large. They can be tricky and seem innocent, but they can be a destructive force. It can be as simple as being encouraged to go to a birthday party, graduation, or to church. If you give in and decide to go, but your spouse had other plans, surprises, or just wanted to spend some quality time together, it can be detrimental.

If you live in your hometown, it’s definitely good to encourage your spouse to communicate fully on how they feel about the influence your family has on you. You should be able to articulate it to them as well. It could save your marriage or destroy it if you fail to prioritize your new family over your old one.

My Ignorance

we were kidsIn hindsight, I was ignorant. I didn’t educate myself on marriage. I just winged it.

It’s nobody’s job to advise me, so I don’t blame them. But since they offered advice, I just wish it would have been helpful.

At the end of the day, it’s my job to educate myself on anything concerning my life.

Now, marriage isn’t all bad. There’s tons of good that comes with marriage too. Here’s a post mentioning some of the good things I learned about marriage over the first two years.