When the Glamour of Marriage Fades
*Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to check out my 30 Dates in November challenge!
The music is playing, I’m being escorted down the aisle, and I see Adam’s handsome face – and oh! He had never looked so good. The ceremony was beautiful, and the sun came shining through the stained glass windows right as we said our vows. I’m being escorted back down the aisle, this time as a married woman, grinning from ear to ear and Adam looking at me his eyes shining. The reception flew by pretty quickly and all the sudden we’re driving off in our “just married” adorned car to our honeymoon. Now what? My life would be drastically different as a married woman than it had as a single, dating, and engaged woman. And things wouldn’t be as rose-colored, beautiful, steamy, and perfect as I had anticipated.
Marla Taviano addresses this strange newlywed phenomenon in her book, From Blushing Bride to Wedded Wife, the expectations that go awry, the hopes dashed, and the questions that surface: “How did [I] go from blushingly beautiful bride to woefully wedded wife in such short time?” Every young bride is hopeful and excited and then reality sets in. Your husband isn’t as neat as you’d like him to be. Sex is actually painful and uncomfortable (especially with a self-administered bikini wax – don’t try those at home). He goes to work during the day and you don’t have a clue what to do with your time. Or perhaps you’re both working and you both come home dog tired… too tired to make dinner, do dishes, and definitely too tired for sex- how could he demand “that” from me? Do you feel like pulling your hair out? Do you wonder if there’s a warranty on your husband, and if you kept the receipt? Where did it all go askew? I sure did and only after a few weeks.
“I remember one Friday night just two months into our less-than-glamorous marriage. While the rest of the world was out partying, I was in the Laundromat, waiting for the rinse cycle. In years past, weekends were all about food, fun, friends, and football. Friday nights as a newlywed meant sitting home alone while Gabe worked.“
Like Taviano, I remember looking forward to weekend open hours in college so I could spend time with Adam. Weekends for us were all about marching band, movies, make-out sessions, and pizza. When we were engaged, weekends became time to set up house, movies, make-out sessions, and still pizza. I didn’t mind doing a little house cleaning for Adam. I loved him after all. And I’d throw a microwave dinner in a plastic bag to take to work while I set up house.
Then we were married and my husband worked every weekend night. I was home alone without a clue of what to do. I’d attempt to clean the house, but I’d spend a lot of my time watching TV, surfing the net, and working on my creative projects that I didn’t have time for when I was in college. Since Adam worked the 3-11pm shift, I would stay up late with him when he’d get home and we’d watch TV and movies together like we did in college. Usually he’d stay up later than me to play computer games and I’d fall asleep alone. But after awhile that routine got boring, and I became lonely and depressed.
When the sparkles disappear, when the luster wears off, and when the glamour of marriage fades, all hope is not lost! Learning to live together intentionally takes time, communication, and prayer.
Discuss your views of time management and how you like to spend your time before the wedding. This was definitely something Adam and I viewed differently. I wanted us to be on the same sleep cycle whereas Adam felt that by staying up later to play his games, he wouldn’t cut into our couple time when I was awake. We now make it a point, save rare occasions, to go to bed together because it builds our intimacy, dependency, and sweet fellowship.
Another thing we struggled with and still do is spending more time together doing things other than watching TV/movies. For Adam, communication didn’t come naturally and watching things became a fall-back option. This is still something we struggle with almost two years into our marriage. But we’ve made a plan with how to spend our time. Talk to your fiancé about how you view time separately and together. Make a list of things you want to do together and prioritize them. Now make a list of the things you need to do together and prioritize them.
If you’re already married and this is something you struggle with, sit down and make lists separately (without talking to each other) and compare. Create a combined list ranked in order of priority. Pick one or two things on this list to work on intentionally this week.
Be intentional about investing in physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy-building activities during the time you have together and make it count!
Silence is NOT golden! This is something I believe many women struggle with and are hurt by – when their husbands don’t want to talk. Demanding your spouse talk to you isn’t the best way to communicate though. Ladies, we need to be gracious and kind with our words, respecting that our husbands tend to (but not always) be the less talkative ones. Let your husband know that you want to talk, and let him know that you want it to be more than just surface level topics because you love him and want to get to know him and the inner workings of his mind and heart. Let him know what you’re thinking and feeling regularly – not in a gushing fountain kind of way, but communicate your pleasure during sex, let him know when he’s doing a good job in the romance department, or when he’s done something well around the house, and let him know your opinions. Adam says he appreciates it when I am honest with him about an activity we are going to do or have done. Don’t go along with something just because you don’t want to offend your honey and you want to avoid and argument.
Be intentional about communicating to each other daily, even if it’s just ten minutes of face time.
Don’t neglect your spiritual life. Spend time regularly with the Lord. Pray Scripture. The Psalms are a great way to pray to the Lord and praise Him for who He is and what He has done. Make a habit of praying a Psalm daily.
Take your concerns, fears, expectations, hopes, and dreams to God in prayer daily. Ask God to show you how to be a loving, respectful wife. I make a habit of journaling my prayers so I can see where the Lord has answered and where He’s still working, and also where I’ve grown and what I still need to work on. I also have started lifting up silent prayers when I can’t find something, when I’m getting frustrated, when I need help or wisdom or words to speak to my husband, and when something isn’t working. Adam has a faulty stereo in his car, but he’s recently taken to praying over the stereo – and what do you know? As soon as he does, it works and he can listen to Christian music. That’s God working in the little things.
Don’t neglect spending time together as a couple with God. Set up a time where you can regularly pray together and read Scripture together. If you aren’t married yet, get in the habit of doing this early. Adam began praying for me before bed over the phone when we started dating, something we’ve continued in our marriage. But Adam mentioned this year how he wants me to pray for him too. Ladies, your prayers for your husbands are so critical! I highly recommend reading The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian if you haven’t already, especially if you’re engaged or a newlywed. You have an opportunity to lift up prayers on your husband’s behalf, and bless your husband, marriage, and heart.
When you stay in constant communication with God, you develop a deep intimacy with Him and begin reflecting godliness in your life and marriage. Pray, pray, pray! Be intentional about your personal and communal prayer life.
What kind of wife do you want to be? Be an intentional wife – purpose to make the most of your time together, to communicate respectfully and regularly, and to pray without ceasing!
Meet Me for a Cup of Coffee
Your marriage is not over if you don’t spend a lot of time together, if you don’t know what to say or do, and if you aren’t praying as much as you should. Your marriage doesn’t have to be perfect from the starting gate… and let me let you in on a little secret – your marriage won’t ever be perfect. However, there’s always hope and there’s always grace. I love the verse Taviano uses at the top of her first chapter: Great Expectations…
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
How does this verse speak to you with where you’re at in your marriage right now? What areas come easily to you in marriage and what areas do you struggle with the most? If you’re already married, how did your expectations shift or change after being married?
Take it a step further – What do you need to have a flourishing marriage?
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