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Don’t expect marriage to make you happier

For all you singles out there, if you think marriage will solve your problems, and that you’ll finally be complete once you tie the knot, I’m here to say this: think again.

I have been married 14 years. And here is my story.

I was a miserable single person, and I thought marriage would fix it all. I was 29 when I got married, and I had a fantasy that marriage would cure all my single issues. Wrong. If you want to find out how selfish you are, get married.

Six years ago, I learned what commitment meant. The wheels came off my marriage, and my wife and I nearly split. Why? We had multiple traumas and stressors that taxed us to the max.

Three family members died within a two year span. I lost my job after nine years with the company I had poured my life into. My wife was on long term disability due to post traumatic syndrome, and then I ended up on short term disability for stress that was ready to take my life. Our dog died at age 13, and he had been with us almost our entire married life. Financially we had become so strapped that we carried even more stress in the marriage due to our heavy debt load.

Where was God in all this? Life felt like Job’s. I could go on and on and on about the many other stressors that plagued our lives; I was so pushed into a sea of pain I wanted out. Death looked appealing; many times I fought suicidal thoughts.

And to make matters worse, all around me I saw couples enjoying success and trips and healthy incomes. How is it possible that a couple can take on enough battles for six marriages? It doesn’t even out. Life is no respecter of persons. I am 47 and I feel like I have lived two lifetimes already. My poor 43-year-old wife has lived 10 lives.

But we’ve survived, and it’s a miracle. Even as I write this we are both reeling from so much pain that at times I am unsure how we made it this far.

A lot of Christian counselling saved us. Tons of prayers saved us — prayers sent up to our Father by our loved ones and close circle of friends. We wept a lot. We fought a lot. We wrestled with God a lot. We had to take breaks from each other, even up to two weeks apart. We had to re-negotiate our marriage. We aren’t the same people today as when we wed that summer day; our eyes aren’t all glazed over with lovey-dovey emotions.

My wife and I continue to make a conscious choice to remain intact. When everything was coming apart, we did what was necessary to ensure those vows would stick.

I’ve seen a lot of tough years, and I know one thing: marriage is not the ticket to completing your life. You will have a much better marriage if, as a single person, you are already whole and content.

So instead of rushing to the altar to fulfill a Hollywood fantasy, or wanting to take care of those raging hormones, I’m here to tell you to take a chill pill. Ask yourself, “What do I need to work on before I get married?” Also consider asking questions like, “What might harm my future marriage?” Getting hitched is not the end-all, be-all to all of your troubles and misery. You can’t get married and expect it to make you happy.

Is marriage worth it, even though you can expect a lot of trials? Absolutely. But don’t fool yourself in thinking that it’s easy. Being married will stretch you beyond your wildest imagination. Think through now what your vows will mean on that day when all is well and you can only see the good times ahead. Make sure you sign up for “in sickness and in health” part. If you don’t, you’re in for an ugly surprise.

photo credit: MightyBoyBrian via photopin cc