Something I wish people would have told me when I got married is that it’s like going into war, hopefully not too much of a war with each other, but a war against the world. The moment you say those vows it’s as if everything comes against you.
Many of us have this Hallmark card version of love in our minds, where everything is very romantic, superficial, and covered in glitter. Combine this with being in love, which really means being completely out of your mind, and most of us are a bit like sparrows in a hurricane, totally clueless. People dress up and have these fancy weddings and everything is all soft and fluffy, wrapped in yards and yards of white tulle. It makes me think of clouds, kittens, and cotton balls.
It’s a bit funny, but sometimes I think a proper wedding should really happen in a foxhole somewhere. You’re about to go to war! Marriage is more like allies signing a treaty or a call to arms or something. Rather then cotton balls and cake, we need displays of armor, weaponry, and combat preparation. Man the battle stations!
Hopefully people won’t be at war with each other too much, but there will be moments. It’s inevitable. No matter how much in love people think they are, there’s going to be conflicts. I know some people who had no conflicts, had perfect marriages. They’re all divorced now. Trying to avoid conflicts in marriage is a bad idea. They’ll lurk under the surface, rot your soul, and come between you.
When two people unite, it’s just startling how quickly the attacks start coming. There’s a definite force that will try to come against you on an emotional and spiritual level. Things try to steal your time together, your level of intimacy, your respect for each other. The world is constantly feeding people garbage, like the “grass is always greener on the other side” or “I’m not happy, maybe it’s my marriage.”
I think of marriage as people being partners in “crime”, all for one and one for all. Or perhaps troops in a foxhole who have to have each others back. United people are powerful, divided they become weak. The whole world conspires to divide married people. I see women targeted the most. Women are more vulnerable to social pressures, to following the herd, and also more able to read subtle clues that something in a relationship just doesn’t feel right. Not to pick on men, but they often ignore these subtleties that will add up over time and then they feel caught unawares when their relationships go into crisis. Men often seem quite baffled about what happened.
I kid you not, I tried to explain to this guy that his marriage seemed to be in trouble, that I was worried about them. He didn’t like it, as far as he’s concerned his marriage is just fine….as he went to bail his wife out of jail! Now this guy isn’t insensitive, he’s just clueless and in such denial, that it doesn’t even register that something is going on with his wife. Like hello dude, I don’t think she’s happy! That’s a kind of emotional abandonment that I don’t think is all that intentional, but it sure seems fairly common in many men. I think perhaps they want it to work out so badly, they just try to sweep things under the rug and pretend it is.
Marriage really is like a war. You have to fight for it everyday. It’s a huge investment of your time and energy. I suspect if more people understood that they were entering a battle and knew the value of making a commitment to that battle, we’d have a whole lot less divorce.