Dear Not-Yet-Married Self,
I know you are impatiently waiting for that ring. I know you keep hoping it will be held up to you from a bended knee on the next date, or at the next event, or to mark the next milestone. I know you are envisioning the wedding and everything that goes along with that magical princess day. I know you are wishing introductions included “husband” rather than “boyfriend.”
That will all come. But there are things you should know. Tales from the other side that you should hear.
Marriage is not meant to solve problems. It will make some problems easier, like shared bills and double incomes. It will make some struggles easier as you will have someone to share them with. However, it will create new problems and struggles. New ones that it will be your responsibility to solve. Not your way, but a new, together way. Some of those problems will be small, but some will be big. And you will have days when you long for the problem of semantics in introductions.
Marriage does not make him love you more. Putting rings on each other’s fingers while dressed in the most elegant of attire does not create or multiply love. Building a relationship together will grow love. Respecting him and listening to him will multiply his love for you. And, ironically, love yourself more and you will surprisingly find him doing the same.
Marriage will not be like the movies. You will not know what the other one is thinking without saying a word. Marriage will be real and sometimes raw. You have to put your Hollywood expectations aside and get real. You have to communicate with him if you want him to know what you are thinking, which isn’t always romantic and magical, but it is real and honest.
There will be times when you will want to walk away. Times when you will picture packing up all of your stuff, or all of his, and walking away. Times when it will seem like it shouldn’t be this hard, or you shouldn’t fight this much, or things should just be better than they are. There will be times where in the midst of your running away fantasy, you will find yourself desperately praying that he never walks away.
You need to learn to see the little things, because that is where you will most often find his love. Notice that he always lets you pick the restaurant. Appreciate that he always, always drives and knows that you hate to. Pay attention to the folded laundry and the clean kitchen when you walk in from a day of work when he had a day of home. Realize that the hand on the small of your back in the middle of a crowd is just as romantic, and possibly more loving, than the sizzling kiss between the sheets.
Listen. Listen. Listen to the feelings behind his words. Listen to the words he is saying and listen for the ones that he is not. Stop talking in your head while he is talking in your ear. Listen.
Marriage is difficult. But solving those problems will give you a sense of pride, one that you share together. And those storms you weather side-by-side, the struggles, the learning to communicate, the finding out what listening means, the discovering how big the little things are, will create a life. One that is beautiful and strong and so much more real than fairy tales and movie scenes.
Yes, the proposal, the ring, the dress, the day will all come. But so much more than that will come with it. A marriage. A lifetime of listening and apologizing and loving. A world of small moments and gentle smiles, not of grandiose declarations of love in cinematic locations. More tears and laughs and sighs and smiles than you will ever be able to count.
Be patient, for something wonderful will come.