When we’re younger, it seems like marriage is the “end game.” You go through all the cutesy school dances, the fun first dates and then grow to develop even deeper– or at least more complicated relationships as the dating dynamics change once we hit adultdom.
But the truth is, there is no end game (well, unless you consider death to be the end, but even that’s debatable). You merely just graduate from one stage of your life to the next. You’re opening new doors, starting new chapters and realizing that you’re starting completely over until you achieve the next life stage.
That is why it is so important to be happy where you are now in life before you get on to the next stage. Sure, you may be happy to move on from dating to marriage– but that doesn’t guarantee you won’t have nights of loneliness or anger. Just because you don’t have to date anymore, that doesn’t mean your guy will make you happy 24/7. Chances are he’s human and a dude. If both factors are mixed in, there’s a 100% chance of disappointment at some point or the other. Why? Because life isn’t perfect and no one is responsible for your happiness except you. If you place your happiness solely on the shoulders another individual, you’re in for a whole world of pain.
And if you keep thinking you’ll only be happy once you achieve a certain stage of life, then you’re in for a life of playing catch-up that’ll only find you old and wondering where your life went.
If you’re dating and thinking marriage will make you happy, then once you’re married you may think, “Well, if only we had a baby we’d be happy.” Then once the baby is born and the stress piles on, “Well, maybe once the kid gets to school and out of diapers we’ll be happy.” And then of course the infamous, “Well, maybe once the kid graduates and gets the heck out of my house, we’ll be happy,” until, “Once we retire and pay off our debts, we’ll finally be happy!”
And then you’re left sitting on a rocking chair in your front porch going, “Well this sucks.”
But, if you are determined to find happiness where you are now– If you’re able to find joy and peace through the pain, the stress, the ups and the downs– then that rocking chair scenario is a much different picture and you’ll be content holding hands with your wrinkly lover and kissing each other with toothless grins.
Why? Because you’ve learned to be content through it all and not just because circumstances went the way you wanted them to be.
There is a lot of pressure to be a blissful newlywed. If I had a quarter for every time someone has asked me “How great is newlywed life?” this month, then I’d go on a second honeymoon. Don’t get me wrong. I AM happy. But I wouldn’t call it bliss. Bliss is blind and so can love at times. What we have and need is commitment and respect, and that is what will keep us together forever– not some romantic feelings that come and go periodically. I’ll always love Hubs, but I’m not going to expect that feeling alone to carry us through everything life throws at us.
Sure, there are blissful moments, but there are a lot of growing pains that come a long with getting married ad starting your life together. If you don’t mentally prepare for it (why premarital counseling is so so important), then you’re in for an eye opening experience that is usually followed by the phrase, “Good Lord, what have I done?!?!”
Let’s get real about marriage here for a second. In the old old days, it used to be something that was bought or traded for with goats. How romantic. The woman was expected to bear children and cook for her man. BAM. Definition of what marriage was. Then there was a point where wives were prizes or prisoners, but of course once the world developed and women got educated, there was a period of time where a lot of women were like, “Hell NO! We won’t go!” and refused to get married.
So what did society do? They created fairy tales and Disney princesses to show how beautiful and wonderful it would be once your “prince would come” to entice women to want to get married. But of course, that only leads to disappointment because they only show the parts that lead UP to the fairy tale marriage. They never show Prince Charming drinking in the village with his buddies or running off to war for a couple months at a time leaving Cinderella alone with her singing rats and the bazillion babies she had to bore for the kingdom. If they showed that, maybe more girls would have a more realistic view on marriage– especially if they could show how the couple could work out a balance on how to be happy despite the natural ups and downs of life.
And let’s not even begin to address how some of those Disney relationships are based on some pretty messed up stuff like Belle and her Stockholm syndrome or how Ariel sold her tongue for a pair of legs. Yup, I’m sure they found their happiness after the “I dos.”
Marriage is a beautiful thing– but not just because it’s marriage. It’s because of you two. Marriage is what you make of it. Your life as a single is what you make of it. Your life as parents are what you make of it. Your life NOW is what you make of it. Not what someone else makes of it or what someone tells you that it should be right now or how you should feel at this stage. You have the power to work on your life and achieve what you want out of every life stage you encounter.
If your life isn’t 100% bliss (at any stage that you think it’s “supposed to be”), don’t freak out. There’s nothing inherently wrong with you or your relationship or your life. You’ve just fallen victim of the “I’ll be happy when…” mentality. Shake it off and rewire that brain and emotions of yours because you can find happiness even in during the lows or when things aren’t “perfect.” And it’s important to because chances are, things won’t ever be 100% perfect– well, at least until you decide you’re happy with imperfections.