Great Expectations

0317

On the facts and fiction of marriage, by Hannah and Masashi.

It’s been a little under a year of marriage, and I remember the articles I read and the advice I heard that claimed that marriage would lose its honeymoon sparkle sometime between 6 months to a year after the wedding (some even claimed as quickly as 3 months). Fortunately, such claims have yet to come true of our marriage, and while we have not yet reached the one year milestone, it is safe to say that our relationship only grows stronger.

To my single and engaged friends, I want to offer comfort (and warning) that marriage can be very different from the expectations which we might bring into it. We (especially women) have been raised with conflicting and even alarming ideas of what marriage looks like, and what it means to be a husband or wife. TV, movies, friends, our own family- all of these can influence what we expect coming into what is meant to be a lifelong relationship.

I am a child of divorce. While I have experienced a lot of love, I have also seen the pain that a broken marriage can bring, and was cautious not to repeat the patterns that I have witnessed. My husband was raised mainly by his single mother, as his father passed away when he was 8 years old. Neither of us comes from the traditional nuclear family unit. This has forced us to rely directly on the Bible and its counsel for what marriage means.. and if anything, this has contributed to making our marriage stronger. It also meant realizing that expectations for marriage can be different from actuality. And that different or not, marriage is still good.

After coming thus far, my husband (Masashi) and I reflected together on how our expectations of marriage have shifted through experiencing its actuality. We also considered about what might be surprising or interesting for others who are approaching marriage (or hope to be soon). These are some thoughts we came up with..

Hannah:

  • It’s okay to be direct about what you would like to do or are interested in, etc., because he’d rather know than be left guessing. Women are often indirect or hesitate to share what they really want, but my husband appreciates directness!
  • When you are married, your thinking has to change completely. Every decision you make can potentially affect another person, and while this is not necessarily a problem, it can be a significant mental-shift if you’re used to being single.
  • At least in our case, we became much more balanced people after becoming married. It is much easier to eat meals on time or not stay up too late when you know that your habits affect another person. This also makes accountability for exercise, etc., much easier!
  • When I was single, I often felt free to buy coffee or a new dress if I felt like it. Now I still buy such things, but being married has made me much more savings-saavy! Marriage has probably made me less impulsive that way.
  • Communication is really important to begin with, but my husband and I are from two different cultures and language backgrounds, so this makes it all the more important! I cannot stress how crucial it is to learn patience and be willing to adjust to your spouse’s different communication style.
  • When you’re married, you may find that sometimes people are jealous of the time you and your husband spend together. However, it is absolutely necessary to devote time to just the two of you and focus on building your marriage.
  • It’s easy to forget that being married is also living with another person. Anyone that has had housemates before will realize that this means a lot of things – for example, you might have different ideas about what level of hot water to use when washing dishes, how to decorate, or any manner of tiny lifestyle details that you totally take for granted. Embracing flexibility and curiosity about your spouse’s preferences can help make the transitions easy. If you’re more set in your ways, get ready for surprises!

Masashi:

  • Your wife might not always have the same energy as you, and you should take this into account when making plans. Just because you feel fine doesn’t mean this will be the case for your spouse.
  • As a married person, you will not have the same level of freedom. This is not a bad thing, but it means that you have to be conscious about how you spend your time.
  • Men have a tendency to make plans without seeking input. It’s good to discuss and share with your wife rather than initiating without knowing how she feels.
  • It’s important not to try to seek rewards from your spouse – love is not about doing good to be rewarded, but giving is a reward in and of itself.
  • Your wife may have a skin care and makeup routine which you might not be familiar with (Masashi was shocked the first time he saw me in a beauty face mask!! He has since learned the functions of oil remover and some cosmetics..).
  • Always apologize after making mistakes.
  • It’s important to be considerate/caring of a woman’s physiological and emotional state during her period (yes, he really told me to put that one on the list, haha..).
  • When a guy hears a problem, his first instinct is often to fix it. It may be more helpful for your wife to listen first rather than try to find a solution immediately.
  • When I (Masashi) was single, I often didn’t care about whether my clothes were clean, if my hair looked nice, or if I worked late. When you’re married, you take on new responsibility. When you care for yourself, you’re also showing care toward your spouse.

If you’re not married, what expectations do you have of the idea of marriage? If you are, what things have surprised you or what have you learned so far? 

Please leave your questions and comments below. 

Photo: Hannah and Masashi

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