Thinking Out Loud

July 16, 2010

Did You Get The Person You Married?

Jacob thought he was getting married to Rachel.    He wakes up the next morning to discover he’s actually married to Leah.

It sounds like another one of those Old Testament stories, but in fact, it happens all the time.   People wake up one day maybe a month, a year, or a decade after the wedding; they look at their partner and they say, “This isn’t the person I said ‘I do’ to.”

Sometimes the changes are minor; the person gains a little weight or suddenly wants to take up ballroom dancing.   Other times it’s more severe.

The balance of this blog post first appeared here a year ago, but the problem of “expectations” in marriage is one that doesn’t go away…

glasbergen - marriage

  • When she married him, D. was a party animal. The first year of their married life, a quarter of their budget was concert tickets. But now he sits in the recliner reading John Grisham novels.
  • S. made it quite clear about seven years into the marriage that she was no longer into church. Just stopped going. Her husband is a bit perplexed, and ends up taking the kids himself, which leaves the people there asking questions.
  • M. said she was a dog lover, and J. didn’t like cats, so it seemed perfect; but now M. says she doesn’t want a dog in the house.
  • Y. knew when she married F. that he had smoked a cigarette or two, but never expected all these years later to be married to a confirmed smoker; especially in view of all the scientific data we now have.
  • T. was the picture of health when they got married, so V. never expected he’d be spending his life playing both husband and nurse.
  • R. had never spent a lot of time around kids; was never a babysitter; and made it clear to B. she wanted a small family. That was five kids ago.

A lot of people wake up one morning and realize that they’re not married to the person they walked down the church aisle with. (A strange expression, since most brides walk down the aisle with their father, to whom they had better not be married.)

Much of the tension in marriage is due to a crisis of expectations. It reminds me of the book title, This Isn’t The Trip I Signed Up For. Judging it from Day One, it didn’t look like it would be like it is today.

Today’s question is, do you think this is the norm or the exception? Is it better that “people change” than if they don’t change at all? Does it matter how long a couple dated or were engaged, or do the “surprises” in marriage happen regardless?

And of course: What changed in your partner after the wedding? Did you change? Did the marriage survive?

And yes, you’re allowed to say, “My marriage is fine, but I have this friend…”

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