family is story

What Marriage Is Not

What Marriage Is NotI had one of those rare moments when I was answering someone’s question about how I like marriage, and I was asked to repeat something.

That something was this: Marriage is not an escape from singleness.

My single friend who asked me to repeat myself, also asked me to elaborate. As I thought about the conversation that followed, I began considering what marriage myths have been shattered in my life over the last five or six years. See, while there were one or two small wake-up calls for me about what marriage is all about this first year of marriage, I’m happy to recognize that many of the things I thought about marriage were debunked as I grew and matured in my singleness.

First, I learned that marriage is not an escape from singleness. Sadly, I struggled with viewing much of my single status as a judgment of my looks, my personality, my abilities—a negative judgment.

It took a long time for me to think differently—before I was married—and realize that singleness was not a curse or punishment. Singleness was a time to have fun, be involved in church, explore my interests and hobbies, and build a life. Singleness was not something to “wait” through, it was something for me to move through—preferably, to move through it well.

Second, in my 30s, I realized that marriage is not “playing house.” There aren’t black and white roles that each partner plays. There aren’t responsibilities that are exclusive to the man or the woman. There are no perfect endings to fights. There aren’t perfect pajamas or perfect hygiene or perfect house-cleaning. For Nathan and I, we’re in it together. We help each other out. We do what needs to be done. We work on stuff together. And it’s real.

Third: Marriage is not an excuse—or an “out.” It’s not an excuse to not be social. It’s not an excuse to not participate in charity. It’s not an excuse to not take care of health concerns. It’s not an excuse to miss an opportunity.

There were a few conversations with my married friends during my single years when one would complain about the freedom or opportunities they lost because they were married. But what if they lost that opportunity or that perceived freedom because they didn’t discuss it with their husband and figure out a way to make the opportunity work for their family? Marriage is not an excuse to use when fear is the real issue.

Yeah, I’m new to marriage—I’m still learning and growing. But I was old at singleness. And being single isn’t an excuse for not challenging and developing a healthy perspective of marriage.

©2013 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.