Sandra shook her head with so much sadness. She had just had another quarrel with Fred, her husband of three years. This time, after the shouting match, Fred slammed the door in anger and walked out of the house.
“This isn’t the way it is supposed to be,” Sandra thought to herself. “I had a very rosy picture of marriage being so effortless, cozy and nice. What I am facing is the complete opposite and I feel like screaming!”
This picture is one I often hear from couples that come for counseling or write to me. Somehow, marriage becomes a different picture from what they assumed it to be prior to matrimony. A contrast from the bed of roses they so eagerly looked forward to.
But marriage is indeed a bed of roses. People forget that roses also have thorns. That’s why if you handle roses wrongly, they will prick you and the piercing can leave you aching.
What then is the problem?
In my opinion, it is fundamental.
People come into the marriage with preconceived ideas. Too often for the girl, her husband represents that knight in shining armor who comes to sweep her off her feet and runs away with her into the sunset on a gleaming white horse. Oh well!
Princes in movies are well-mannered. They open doors for their ladies, apologize when wrong, they are uber-romantic, hard-working, and come bearing gifts.
So, most times, the question most ladies wonder after marriage is “Why is my prince not like this?” Their husband is the opposite of what they’ve seen in so many movies. It seems like a toad replaced their prince especially when they remember “he wasn’t like this when we were dating; he was so charming, so different.” The question then becomes “what happened?”
Too often, marriage changes people. At times it seems like you married one person and woke up to another – something like a Dr. Jekyll and Hyde situation.
But is this really the case? Let’s look at it from some husbands’ angle.
Husband has grown up with his own fantasies. Wives are princesses who do nothing but please their husbands. They are patient, submissive, fun to be with, trust and believe in their husband, and can’t wait to start a family.
And then, marriage happens and shreds his impression or rather fantasy to irredeemable pieces. He is left wondering “What has happened to me?” He feels scammed.
On a more serious note, why do people change or become different in the world of matrimony?
Human relationships will always be fraught with pressure and tension. We are not mind readers so we can’t always anticipate or clearly interpret the other person’s thoughts or intentions. It’s a no-brainer that tension will always arise in relationships.
Marriage complicates this even more. The woman becomes more paranoid and rightfully so. She gives up her identity to take on another. Also, she stands to lose more if the relationship goes south. So, the pressure on her increases once her finger officially slides into the wedding ring.
As a girlfriend or finance, there is always a safety net. She can always walk away. This is why when the pressure gets high, like a good pressure pot, the steam valve is opened and the pressure is reduced.
Some of the valves for the lady include going back to her own apartment and spending time apart. Distance always has a way of re-aligning thoughts. It is also another opportunity to seek the Lord’s direction for her.
However, with marriage, that steam valve is sealed by a marital covenant and the pressure inevitably builds. This is where the couple reinforces their invitation to the Lord to take charge of their union and give them the grace to maneuver the delicate maze of matrimony. Daily standing on certain scriptures makes a difference. I always recommend 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 among other scriptures:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Marriage brings a new set of evaluations to the relationship game and it holds both spouses to new levels of accountability. There’s no denying the fact that it is hard work. What in life isn’t hard work?
If left guarded by fantasy, the marital thorns will become more prominent than the roses. In no time, the longest couch in the house will become a very attractive and valuable accessory for one of the spouses. If I may ask, is this life?
My advice is to leave fantasy where it belongs: Fantasy island. Invest in making your union work. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves – Romans 12:10.
Mr. Ross has been counseling married couples for more than twenty years. He is a father of two sons and a daughter.