What happens when all your preparations for the big day and the big day itself are finally over? Marriage is more than just your wedding day. What comes next is the rest of your life, no longer as a single woman, but as a wife. I’m sharing with you the challenges I encountered as a new wife, to help you make sense of things when the wedding dust settles.
Every girl dreams of having her own happily ever after.
So you meet your own modern-day version of Prince Charming. He sweeps you off your feet, rescues you, and then asks for your hand in marriage.
I met my Prince Charming at a time in my life when I needed rescuing. Gino was smart and handsome–typical traits a girl would look for. He made me laugh effortlessly. But what blew me away was his character–he was kind, loving, and true. But most importantly, he accepted me for who I was–imperfections and all. In time, I began to wonder whether he was the man I was destined to spend my life with. So, when Gino proposed, it was like a dream come true.
And then we got married, rode off into the sunset, and lived happily ever after. Just like in the fairy tales, right?
Many women (and/or men) have this fairy tale idea of love. When they get engaged, they tend to become so engrossed in all the details of their wedding planning and preparation, that they sometimes neglect the more important part–their lives after the wedding. They fail to realize that a dream wedding doesn’t guarantee a dream marriage.
Several weeks after the wedding, my gown had already been dry-cleaned, wrapped in plastic and tucked in a closet. As the gown lost its allure under the plastic sheet, the euphoria from that day seemed like a distant memory. I found myself crying secretly in the bathroom. I never expected to be in this place so soon.
Marrying the man of my dreams did not make me immune to the occasional reality check slash emotional breakdown that accompanied an ice-cold dose of reality. The truth was, in the early days of marriage, I began to feel like I was surrendering my personal freedom. I was so used to me and my husband Gino simply loving each other for who the other person was.
It came as a shock when, suddenly, I could no longer do just anything I wanted (when I wanted) without having to take another person into consideration–his feelings, his schedule, his priorities, and most importantly, his authority as my husband and head of the family. I missed being able to make decisions on my own. I missed making my own schedule, or even having no schedule at all. After having lived independently for several years, it wasn’t easy having to consider and consult someone for every decision I made.
Why couldn’t we just be husband and wife, maintain our own different priorities and schedules, and still love each other? I thought. Didn’t we love each other already despite our differences? Before the wedding, our differences seemed petty, even cute. But they began to loom over me like a dark cloud.
When things don’t pan out according to one’s “fairy tale” expectations, negative thoughts tend to surface. Is this really how it’s supposed to be? Is something wrong with me? Or worse that I’ve heard some ask: Is he really the one?
Many get married without really knowing what they’re getting into. They fall in love with the idea of love, are attracted to the euphoria that comes with the idea (the same kind on one’s wedding day), such that when the euphoria dies down, they want out.
As I struggled with being a wife, I tried to retrace my steps, wanting to see where things went wrong. I remembered the wedding vows I wrote. I had promised to love my husband unconditionally. I also promised to wake up early every morning to make him coffee (which was probably not a good idea to include in my vows). I thought it would be easy to do things for the man I loved. I thought making breakfast would be a breeze. But the problem was I didn’t always wake up early. In fact, I didn’t like it. Most days, I preferred to sleep in a few more minutes rather than get up to prepare breakfast.
It was easy to “love” my husband with words. When I shared my vows on our wedding day, the words flowed naturally. But now that it was time to make good on those vows, it became a struggle. I was selfish and only wanted to love when it was convenient. I made our marriage all about me–my rights, my comfort, and my freedom.
I realized that as wonderful as my husband is, we would not always see eye to eye, and my preferences would not always match his. However, my priorities could no longer be just my own. When I married my husband, we stopped being “you” and “me”–and mutually agreed to become an “us”. My priorities became our priorities. When I said “I do”, I did not only sign up to be his lover, best friend, and housemate, but I also signed up to be his life partner.
It pained me to think that my love was just lip service. More so, it hurt me to realize that my lack of love could be hurting my husband and our marriage. So (difficult as it was), I made the conscious decision to love my husband in both word and deed and to put him at the top of my priority list.
It is a decision I have to make every day; to leave my comfort zone and do things to make him feel loved (even on days I don’t feel like it), like waking up a bit earlier to prepare breakfast, watching his favorite show with him, or making sure his clothes are ironed. Before committing to any appointment, I check with him first about his plans and make sure we are aligned. Before making any major or luxury (versus need) purchases, I call him up to seek his opinion and approval. While it may seem trivial, I know he appreciates it and feels loved and respected whenever I take him into consideration.
When I took steps to be more loving, the most incredible thing happened–I actually felt my love for my husband grow. Every time I focus more on his needs and less on mine, I find joy and fulfillment in meeting them and making him feel loved. As J.J. Packer, an author and theologian, once said, “Happiness is never found till we have the grace to stop looking for it.”
Though the fairy tale vision has faded, my love for my husband has grown even more because while I have made sacrifices for him, I know that he has done the same for me. Gino was, is, and always will be the man of my dreams and the ‘love’ of my life. This time though, the word ‘love’ has taken on a much deeper meaning.
To be clear, I still have lapses in my “mission” to be a loving wife. I consider myself a “wife-in-progress”. But, when the going gets tough, and circumstances just somehow make it seem so inconvenient, difficult, or even impossible to love, it is reassuring to know we can always turn to the ultimate source of love–God, who loved us first and foremost, and whose love never runs out.
After over two years of marriage, Gino and I continue to look to this truth that, daily and without fail, sustains our marriage: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness.”