For the majority of my twenties I was the single girl in a group of mainly married friends. Thursday nights we’d all squeeze onto an over-sized sofa to watch The Office and most weekends we would meet up at the beach on Saturday afternoons. In between passing bags of Kettle chips back and forth, the girls and I flipped through magazines and chatted, while the boys invented games using seaweed and driftwood as markers in the sand. I never felt left out or “less like an adult” because I didn’t come with a significant other.
That is until it was time to leave.
I watched as they hopped into their cars, two-by-two, and drove away together.
I sat in my white Honda with the sunroof down and felt the twinge of sadness that sets in when you realize, I’m going home alone.
Somehow I had imagined my married friends driving home together having incredible conversations; discussing everything that had just happened and responding with active listening skills. Upon arriving at their driveway, I pictured them walking through the door hand-in-hand, having magical moments as they talked in the kitchen and then cuddling up on the sofa, before crawling into bed together.
Now, four years later and 8 months into marriage I can confidently say that I had some unrealistic expectations about marriage.
The truth about marriage is most days are very, very ordinary.
Someone has to take out the trash. Someone has to put gas in the car. Someone has to make the bed. And in our home, it’s whoever is the last person to get-up (which is usually me). There are towels to fold and emails that are waiting for replies. Some days someone is tired, or someone else is stressed and the conversation doesn’t get beyond who is going to the bank? did you call the doctor? And who is going to the airport to pick up the next group? As I write this now, we’re both on our computers. He’s at the table, I’m on the bed. There is no magical moment happening in the kitchen. Unless you count the stack of dishes that are patiently waiting in the sink.
Of course this is not the whole picture of marriage, but it’s definitely part of it. And I think it’s important to tell this part, less any single person is watching their married friends drive away together and still thinking that they are going off to the magical land of holy matrimony.
Marriage is made up of a million, mundane daily tasks. And I have found the beauty in marriage is getting to do these ordinary tasks with someone. Or for someone.
Of course there are still meaningful, long conversations, and spontaneous moments of pure fun and hand-holding while walking through the park, but I have found real intimacy through learning how to do daily life together. And I think this may be be one of marriage’s intended gifts. More than love and magical romantic moments, most of us long for intimacy with a spouse or partner.
The pastor who officiated one of my friend’s wedding a few years ago said this and it has continued to be one of my favorite pictures of marriage:
“Within marriage, you are free to fail without being rejected. You are free to succeed without causing jealousy. You are free to journey through one stage of growth to another, while drawing strength and support from your partner. You are free to face huge problems knowing that each problem will be less intimidating and more manageable because you will face it together. Marriage also allows the freedom to exchange hopes and fears and the whole gamut of feelings with one another. Such intimacy requires hard work and courage, but it is a kind of hallowed journey and, ultimately, a source of fulfillment and freedom.”
I believe this is the kind of marriage you create when you embrace the ordinary, and make time and space for intimacy to grow.
If you’re married what does your “ordinary” look like?
If you’re single have you ever watched married friends drive away together and thought something similar? Why is it so easy to do that?
Keep checking back for more posts on, The Truth about Marriage. I plan on writing from time to time and inviting other people to join in and share their perspective. You can read the first post here:
In a culture that feeds us stories of either fairy tell weddings or of marriages that crumble into messy divorces, I think its important to have places where you can tell the truth. What does real, not perfect, day-to-day marriage look like? What does loving someone with everything you got look like when a minute later you’re so frustrated wondering how on earth this is going to work? Maybe when we learn to be honest about what marriage looks like (the good, the ugly and the confusing) we’ll be less and less inclined to worship the idea of it. Marriage is wonderful, but it is certainly not a means to end. I want to tell the real story. The truth about marriage.