Claire and I’s wedding day was awesome.
There was friends, family, music, dancing, celebration, and a whole lot of picture taking. I stood at the alter with six guys behind me who have seen me through high and low. These were the guys who would call me up at 2am asking if I wanted to go on a donut run (of course I said yes). We could drop our homework to go shoot hoops or listen to music for hours. They were my go to guys, the ones I trusted with anything and everything. And I thought that those friendships would never change.
Boy was I wrong.
I remember within the first six months of marrying Claire having moments of deep sadness. To say I was confused would be an understatement. I mean, how could I be feeling sad after saying yes to the most beautiful person I have ever met, the one I wholeheartedly wanted to spend the rest of my life with?
Of course, I didn’t talk about this with anyone, which for future reference is never a good idea. The truth is, there was a type of shame wrapped around it for me.
I should be totally content and happy as a newlywed, right?
Well, it turns out there is a type of grief in marriage. This grief is totally normal and is connected to how life-altering marriage really is.
Entering into that serious of a relationship changes some things. It is the definition of a game changer. It’s like the moment you confess your feelings for a friend. You can never go back. And for many people, this is what scares the crap out of them about marriage. It seems so permanent and life altering. You really are saying yes to just one person, limiting a lot of options, saying no to a lot of potential futures.
That’s why marriage is such a great act of love and commitment; it is willingly limiting the options of your independent life to commit yourself to someone else.
Part of the future you are saying no to is the one where you get free access to your buddies 24/7. You won’t be able to take off at 2am with your friends to get donuts. Or if you are, you have to run it past your spouse. And for a lot of people, including me, this reality can hurt.
In a very real sense something is dying when you get married.
A lot of the joys I experienced with my friends were now peripheral to my life. I now had a more central priority, loving and serving Claire. My single life was being offered for a life of faithful love and service to my new family. If you are getting married, or maybe already are married, it is so important that you come to terms with this reality.
Because if not, there will be this lingering sense of disappointment or loss that will keep you from fully loving your spouse. You will be longing for the way things used to be, the freedom that you used to enjoy. This will limit your connection with your spouse, guaranteed.
If you find yourself in a place of disappointment or longing for what you once had, Ecclesiastes has some helpful guidance in how to move forward. I would encourage you to read this slowly. Try and let the words speak to where you find yourself right now. Ecclesiastes says,
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.
The grief you feel is not bad or wrong, in fact it is a part of what makes you human. Transitions, no matter how beautiful they can be, always mean change and loss. So we have to be good celebrators and good grievers.
Here are five thoughts that will help you grieve the changes that happen early in marriage.
Allow yourself to feel sadness and loss.
This might sound obvious, but we often times reject those places in us that feel sad. This is especially true in something like being newly married. There is this invisible expectation that everything should be wonderful, sparkly, and perfect. But if your like me, there were times and places where everything wasn’t wonderful, sparkly, and perfect.
2. Thank God for every blessing he brought into your life during that season.
This part of the process is essential. By thanking God for the blessings you experienced pre-marriage, you recognize where they come from and how temporary they can be. Thanking God helps us see all that has been given to us and can help increase our faith and trust for the next season of our lives. This brings so much pleasure to our King and it helps shift our perspective towards heaven.
3. Talk to your friends.
After eight months of marriage one of my groomsmen reached out to me feeling hurt because we hadn’t seen each other or talked in a long time. He was feeling the effects of my marriage too, which came as a shock to me. I had to sit with him and hear out his pain, while also asking him how we should move forward.
The truth is, our friends will have to change their expectations about our relationship. This is especially difficult for single friends who still have the freedom to hangout all the time. Hearing your friends out and inviting them into the messy process of support and love is essential for your friendships to survive the change.
4. Talk about this with your partner.
I didn’t want to talk to Claire about this because I thought it would make her upset. I didn’t want it to sound like I regretted my decision at all, because I didn’t! Little did I know that this was a great opportunity to invest in my marriage by being honest about where I was at. Almost every time I’ve chosen to be vulnerable with Claire about something that’s hard in my life it has brought us closer.
Part of almost every vow is to be with your spouse no matter what state they’re in. Allow this to be an opportunity to put that into practice and grow together.
5. Embrace your new life.
Part of moving forward is embracing your new life with all of its new challenges and joys. Marriage will shape you like few other relationships will. It will bring moments of deep intimacy and connection while also revealing big weak spots. The more you can accept your new situation the more fully you will experience it.
If you take these five steps seriously, you will be able to look back on your single life with gratitude, thanking God for all the good things he brought into your life during that season. The past will be in its proper place, behind you, and your future with your spouse will be what matters, even though there might be some sad days along the way.
Have you felt sad about how your friendships have changed since you got married? How did you handle it? Please share any wisdom, comments, or questions below!
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