I hear so many people talking about and posting about their weddings. What their colors will be and if they have made the best bridesmaid dress choice. They go back and forth on the flavor or filling for the cake and if their colors match the season. Sometimes I feel like getting married is a finish line for people in the game of life. "I'm married! YES!" Now all of my friends can envy me and help me pick out wallpaper. Not really.
You see, there is life, a lot of life after the wedding. This is one day, one moment that will soon be turned to pictures stored in the bottom drawer of a closet after you select 3 or 4 you love and frame those. You will one day wish you had the $3,000 back that you paid that photographer. At some point you will be bored and feeling nostalgic and you will pull those pictures out and sift through them trying to remember what an amazing day you shared and how you are just so happy you went with blue and not green.
This won't happen either. Here is what actually will happen.
You will look at the pictures and feel a pain in the pit of your stomach. You will wonder how you could've taken such a risk on one person and what in the world you were thinking. You see what you felt then, will be nothing compared to what you will feel later, after life happens.
You are married. For better or worse, in sickness and in health 'till death do you part. You should never go into a marriage with the scapegoat that you can always just divorce.
If this thought has even entered your mind, do not get married.
This is it. Forever and ever until someone dies. Scary thought, huh? Good, it should be! But how do you know if you are truly ready or if you are marrying the right person. I have been married for nearly 8 years and although that is just a drop in the bucket, I do know a lot more now then I did standing on that deck in Grand Cayman. And I also feel more love now for my husband then I did at the cake cutting...crazy!
So here are 10 things that I know for sure.
1. Sow your wild oats! DO not get married because it's the next logical step, because you are afraid to be alone or because you have nothing better to do. Go find something better!
Right now is the only time you will have in your life to be selfish and self centered and self absorbed without devastating someone else's life. This is it.
You will never get to do this again. Make mistakes, spend some money, travel and have a lot of fun. This way when you DO decide to get married you will have no regrets.
2. Live alone! This goes for both men and women. I have been very blessed in my life to encounter very smart and worldly women that have freely offered their advice. This was one of the best pieces I got. Spend 1 year or more living by yourself. Pay your own bills, be humbled and grateful and scared and cold. Do this!
There may come a time again in your life when you are alone and you have to be able to handle that and be okay with it.
I loved this time in my life. It taught me more about myself that I ever knew and I still to this day make decisions and base a lot of my self worth on what I learned while alone.
3. Choose someone that can pick you off the kitchen floor when all hope is gone. A very smart woman named Angela that I worked with years ago said to me," Think of the worst possible thing that could ever happen in your life. Now picture the person you are currently dating. Could they get you off the kitchen floor?" My response at the time was no and I knew I was dating someone I shouldn't marry. You will need a very mentally strong person to get you through life. In fact you might want to find someone that is stronger than you. I thought I had mental strength down until I met my husband.
Life will throw a lot of things at you and you are always going to need your spouse's strength and courage.
4. Marry up! Be very honest with yourself about how you fit into society and the world. What are you bringing to the table in a relationship? Now, marry up. Find someone that is better than you in every category in which you are lacking. Bad with money? Find someone that knows how to save and have a 401k. You will want someone that can make up for all your weaknesses but you won't know what those are unless you have a real conversation with yourself and are very honest about your own faults.
5. Which brings me to my next point-You are not special. I know you want to be and I know your mom/dad has told you this forever. They are lying. You are just like all of us and you have faults. Bridgett Jones wants someone to love her 'just as she is.' But Bridgett Jones drives me nuts! She could probably make some changes and there are things about yourself you could also change.
Disney and Bridgett and so many others have taught us that one day someone will run into us while buying milk, look into our eyes and love us just as we are, flaws and all.
Nope. They won't.
There are probably some things you could change that would make you a better partner for someone, work on those now and don't be offended if you are asked to work on those later if you meet someone that you think is worth it. There is nothing wrong with trying to better yourself!
6. You will always have to work at this. Just because you say 'I do" doesn't mean its always sunshine and roses. It's work and sometimes its exhausting but let me tell you that it is worth it! Your partner will do things that will make it easy for you to love them and want to spend time with them and they will do things that will make you want to throw a dish. That is just marriage. It doesn't mean you are getting divorced or that your marriage is in jeopardy, it just means you are keeping it real.
And those Facebook posts of your friends that are constantly talking about how wonderful their spouse is, its a crock. You are not the only one they are trying to convince. It's hard and it takes work and if you don't have the guts, then stay away.
7. Find faith. This will be one of the most important parts of your life. We have been sitting in church on Sunday so mad at each other we could spit but then we will remember why we are together and who joined us and we can easily forgive. It helps, I promise!
8. Get a pet! But wait until you are sure this is the person you want to be with and you are sure you are both serious about your marriage. You get to both love something other than yourselves and each other. You will look back and laugh at the funny moments and you will truly see the character of your partner. Nothing brings out the best or worst in someone than a dog that just drug trash across your house while you were away getting a route canal. This is one of the best parts of marriage!
9. Have separate activities and friends. Be okay with your partner going out with friends. If you worry they will cheat, then you married the wrong person. Let them go and have fun and be silly and be the person they were when they were 22 when you didn't even know them yet. And you should do the same.
Never forget about your friends once you get married.
They will be one of the most important resources in your life and if you can find good ones, be good to them too so they will always be with you. Your best friends will always know you in a way that your spouse does not and that is very special.
10. Be good to each other. Remember this is their life too and its not always just about you. Take the time to discover what makes your partner happy. If its little notes in their lunches or calls while they are at work then try really hard to do those things. You don't have to do them everyday but once in a while it feels good to know you are being listened to and your feelings have meaning. This is the one person you chose to stand by you in life so make sure its fun and everyone is enjoying the ride.
After 7 years I still have much to learn but I do know that my life has been blessed and is much better simply by knowing my husband. He is much better at this 'life' thing then I am and I, well, let's face it, I'm much funnier!
And by the way we didn't spend much money on our wedding, we spent it on a trip to Disneyworld afterwards. We threw our hands in the air, screamed and pretended we were still kids.