Here you'll find current musings, as well as the archives from two blogs of yesteryear: YoungMarriedMom and What I Learned While Writing a Novel. Please comment and share. We love well when we are in conversation with one another.
Sorry, if I fooled you. This is not a post about The Hunger Games.
Once again I realize there’s been a whole lot of “mom” and not a lot of “married” in these parts. What better time than right now to change that?
My marriage is one of the things I am most grateful for in my life. I know John feels the same way. We are convinced that marriage is a total commitment of oneself to the other. We are constantly thinking, talking, and acting on ways to improve our marriage, or in other words, to love each other fully. It is work, but it is natural and easy, for the most part.
It’s this complete gift of self that means that after all our short marriage has seen—leaving a job, moving three times, having a child, losing another—we both feel as loved as we did when we were dating. More loved, really, because our relationship is stronger now than it was then. What a gift.
Sometimes that kind of commitment sounds scary, and sometimes the implications are. But true love means giving the other the greatest gift possible, the gift of self, at every opportunity. I wouldn’t want to love John in any other way. He doesn’t deserve even a little bit less than that.
When we got married, I think John and I were the least nervous people in the whole church. Friends commented afterward on how steady our voices were as we recited our vows. I like to think of that as an outward expression of the firm resolve with which we entered our marriage.
This continued love and respect for our marriage often leads us to send each other articles like this (“New NFL Scouting Test: Meet the Wife”) or this (“The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage”). The former makes me want to fist-pump with glee. Now I can finally say I have a third-favorite NFL team. Go Jaguars!
The latter made me realize that while I have heard friends say, “I shouldn’t have slept with him” or “We shouldn’t have lived together,” I have never heard a friend say, “We should have slept together before we got married” or “We should have lived together while we were engaged.”
John and I made certain decisions before we were married, decisions that we felt allowed us to love each other the best we could in the moment and prepared us to love each other the best we could when we were married. We chose chastity. We chose not to live together, even once we were engaged.
Side note: A lot of people, in New York at least, were surprised to hear we didn’t live together, and thus didn’t . . . you know. One young woman—a friend of a friend, whom we only met for one evening—told us that we were making a mistake in not living together. That we were doing ourselves a disservice by not knowing how we would live together. We laughed about it most of the way home. She was so vehement, it was as if we had personally offended her, and not the other way around. I realize now how one-sided her perspective was. She was upset that, for example, I hadn’t given myself enough information to know if I could stand living with John. I didn’t marry John for the way he tidies up the bathroom after a shower, or for anything physical. More on that later.
The article states that while about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together in 1960, now more than 7.5 million unmarried couples live together: a 1500 percent increase. That number reflects relationships among my unmarried friends. I am hard-pressed to think of more than two who are in relationships and are not already living together or seriously considering living together. While I don’t see all those living together as having “slipped” into that situation as the article explains, I do wonder if the conversations that lead to this situation working out have really been had and are consistently being had.
The author suggests that cohabitating can create “lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage” and what really struck me: that men and women could agree that “their standards for a live-in partner are lower than they are for a spouse.” It breaks my heart that such wonderful, beautiful people I love so dearly may be investing in something less than the complete happiness they deserve.
Another side note: I wonder what the statistics are for couples who were either sleeping together or living together and stopped one or both behaviors, for lack of a better word. These are the exceptions, but I am certain they happen.
I looked around online at a couple of different articles, and the consensus is that couples who cohabitate before marriage have a higher divorce rate. I am no sociologist, but I have seen a similar trend quoted about those who sleep together first. Of course, this means that there are couples who cohabitate and/or sleep together before marriage and do not get divorced.
But in John’s words, “If you want to love the other to the fullest, why would you take that risk?” Again, I want to fist-pump. That’s my husband!
I married John because I wanted to love him with everything I have. Because I wanted to share my ups and downs with him, raise a family with him, give my life to him. I made my promises at marriage knowing that he was doing the same for me.
That was, and always will be the greatest gift anyone has ever given me, and I am grateful we chose not to accept anything less.