I could sit here and tell you that Pinterest is a life savor or to make sure you get a good photographer or even to splurge on a caterer that will clean up for you at the end of the day (which is all true), but what I really want to talk about is the thing that is often over looked when thinking about planning a wedding: the marriage.
When I say, “plan a marriage,” I’m not really talking about sitting down and discussing how many kids you want, where you want to live, what you want to do about finances, etc. I believe marriage is so much more than just what you think you want right now. You have no idea where your lives will take you. While it’s nice to have an idea of what your future will look like, it won’t be worth anything if you don’t learn to grow together.
From the moment of engagement, you begin the lifelong journey of taking two separate lives and turning them into one. We all know the future is unpredictable but now you’ve made one thing certain, this person will be a part of it. There are so many expectations, examples, and perspectives on marriage. It’s it hard to know what marriage really looks like when you’re in it.
Everyone likes to talk about the cute moments where their husband brings them flowers (after the 20th time they asked) or those cozy cuddles (after not seeing each other all week because adulting and trying to make money is hard). No one wants to show you the gritty underside of their relationship because those moments make you question everything and for some reason, questioning everything takes away the validity of it all.
We’ve somehow put this idea out there that experiencing negativity with your significant other means your relationship is wrong. It puts such high expectations on serious relationships that, when things inevitably get hard, it feels like you made a mistake starting anything in the first place. As if all the happy moments are fake simply because bad moments come around.
Really, marriage is the hard times. Marriage is the thing that makes the hard times worth it. They’re the moments that make you see just how right your significant other is. It may not feel like it in the moment. It may not match what all the blog posts describe marriage to be, but when you finally get to the other side, you wind up closer than you were before. If only you’re willing to make it through.
So I want to share a newlywed’s perspective on what to really plan for when planning a wedding so anyone living those first few years knows they’re not alone.
HOW TO PLAN A MARRIAGE
PLAN ON FIGHTING | You’ve just spent your whole life thinking in terms of, my and I. Now all of a sudden, “My” becomes “Ours” and “I” becomes “We.” No, I don’t mean this in terms of, “My Netflix account” becoming “Our Netflix account.” I’m talking about things like, “My idea of how a person should be treated” becoming “Our idea.” This is where the fighting comes in.
You’re not just skimming the surface anymore. This is it. This person and their ideas are now going to be intertwined with yours and you are going to have to learn to compromise and compromising leads to fighting. As nice as it would be for there to be a person out there who thinks exactly like you do, who agrees with everything you say, even a soulmate is not that perfect. The only way to find a person who is always in agreement with you would be to clone yourself and marry that. Even then, do you really agree with yourself 100% of the time?
No matter how perfect a match, you’re going to disagree. Eventually you will learn what to fight for and what to let go of. The beginning is a lot of trial and error. -Mind you, “the beginning” means years. Maybe decades. I’ll let you know when I get there.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s the you need to fight. You have to let out every little thing that upsets you so you two can go through it together. Things that are huge and even things at little as how they load a dishwasher. All of it is worth fighting for because all of it is based on feelings you have. And sharing your feelings will always bring you closer together in the long run, no matter how big or small.
Maybe I’m weird, but I’ve grown to love the productivity of fighting. It really starts to show toward the end of an argument when you’ve both made your point and your heads have cooled off enough to actually listen. This is the part where you remember why you love them and that no matter what, it will all be okay. You give your apologies and you get to congratulate yourselves for making it through. You’ve now learned more about yourself and the person you love and you can appreciate them all the more. Sometimes, I think that’s why we fight at all.
PLAN ON DOING THE WRONG THING | This probably is not the first thing you want to think about when daydreaming about the perfect life you’re about to start, but it’s going to happen. You’re not perfect. No one is. But now you have someone who is counting on you to be there for them, appreciate them, and encourage them through all walks of life and you know what? You’re not always going to do it.
You live your life speaking in your language and now you have to learn a new one. You have to learn how to show your person that you love them in a language they understand. Some people receive these feelings through words, others through physical affection, or gifts. Everyone is different and it is now your job to learn this person’s language and use it to show you appreciate their feelings.
“When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.” - Louis CK
This quote should be the mantra for marriage because doing the wrong thing can sometimes mean hurting someone. It’s hard to accept the fact that while trying to love someone the best you can, you can hurt them. This is why I think the best thing to accept is that you’re going to do something wrong and when you do, apologize. Not an, “I’m sorry, but..” The one thing I’ve learned is not worth fighting over is someone else’s feelings. You will do the wrong thing, your spouse will do the wrong thing and that’s just how life works. The best you can do is accept it and say, “I’m sorry and I love you.”
PLAN ON HAVING A FOREVER LONG SLEEPOVER WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND | When my husband and I first got married, I remember reminiscing about how fun it was having sleepovers as a kid. Staying up late, eating candy, talking about anything and everything. Then, suddenly, I felt a burst of energy. Amongst the candy wrappers sprawled out around the room, I looked at my husband sitting next to me and realized I now get to have a sleepover with my best friend everyday for the rest of my life.
You’re going to have hard times. You’re going to fight, you’re going to mess up, and it’s not always going to be pretty. But, truly, the best part about marriage is knowing there’s always someone in your corner. Someone who understands you and accepts you for all the pretty and ugly sides you come with.
As a newlywed, even an experienced-wed, you are forever learning. You’ll fight and you’ll do something wrong. It happens (a lot). The best thing to do is let it happen and then move on because you know what? You get to walk through life with your best friend by your side and I can’t imagine anything better.