“A Major Adjustment!”

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Our church requested that we not live together before we got married. Our church community also pledged(as part of the ceremony) to support our marriage. So while we had talked through everything under the sun, we had not learned how to live with one another. In retrospect, I think the church was  wise to ensure that we had made a solemn commitment to one another before we cohabited. The first year of marriage, it turned out, and every available couple in our church family concurred, was challenging.(Challenging is a polite word!)

Snoring was really the least of it. It was getting used to living with another adult after each of us had only been living with children. Who does what? I started out with my ocd list of chores to divide. Agh! I am astonished at my cluelessness about negotiating. But as time went on we found a way to share the newspaper, the bathroom, the kitchen, the yard and the television. We even found ways to be alone, though it sometimes meant leaving the house!

The only thing worse than figuring everything out would have been to be simultaneously deciding if we were in it for the long haul. Thanks to our fairly conservative church, that question had been settled. For better or worse. And better has always far outweighed the worse.

33 thoughts on ““A Major Adjustment!”

  1. I think we should be allowed a ‘trial marriage’ before making it official. That might save a lot of divorces, and money lost from seling houses and splitting finances. 🙂 Then again, we can always just live together these days, and nobody really cares about that. (I can’t speak for church people about that of course.)
    Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. I think going into any relationship with an out clause is dangerous – you may not give all of yourself to that relationship/friendship/whatever. I’m also thinking that more people should go to relationship counselling, that we should teach more about budgeting, negotiation, looking at what we do rather than blaming our reactions to someone else’s action (snoring! leaving the seat up! forgetting where the dishwasher is!).
      oops. Didn’t mean to be so serious.

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  2. Your post was very interesting to me, Elizabeth. I never lived with my husband before we were married either but we did go on holidays together. I didn’t find it difficult to settle into married life.

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  3. Ultimately, most married couples find out that marriage is a wild adventure, a rude awakening, a costly education, and a daily dilemma. Love is rarely ever enough.
    As you rightly pointed out, the only thing worse than figuring everything out is deciding if one is in it for the long haul. If we are left to our own devices, everyone will ultimately say love is blind and marriage is a mistake. Thankfully, the forces of religion, culture, norms, practices, governments friends families, and sometimes children nudge us into making one form of public commitment or another long before the wild ride starts. All eyes are on you. Not that the eyes can stop you but they are a constant reminder of the promise you made.
    If you make a commitment today, based on how you feel, how can you know how you will feel about it in ten, twenty, thirty, forty, or more years? To be clear, nothing is sweeter than commitment but it takes every virtue that exists out there to commit to your commitment. It is work. And more importantly, you can’t do it alone. It is teamwork. And even with all the hard work, there are no guarantees. Marriage is life.
    Elizabeth, I find this post very interesting. I was smiling all the way. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. My favorite quote was from President Jimmy Carter. “Marriage teaches you all sorts of things you wouldn’t have to know if you weren’t married!” Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

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  4. Interesting! I wonder if there’s a difference between us and what we think “marriage” means also. I say this because we lived together before we got married. In fact, we met online, she came for a visit and stayed with me, and then just never left. That was almost 29 years ago.

    I think neither of us had some idea that “marriage” meant something more than saying “forever” to the other person. We’d already done that before our “visit” became “why don’t you stay forever?” Neither of us has a solid religious faith so there was no need for us to do it before God. We already swore to one another – before we’d even spent a week in each other’s presence.

    But we did eventually get married. Here’s how my proposal went – delivered in the car on the way to the library. (kind of appropriate now that I think of it, given who I am) “Hey Sage – I was thinking, if you get sick or hurt we’ll likely go broke. If we get married, though, you’ll be covered by my company’s health insurance. We pulled in to the library, Sage turned to me and said “OK, fine. But we’re getting a cat.” And so it went. Soon after we went for our blood test (Massachusetts still required RH and Syphilis testing back then) and then went straight from there to the pet shelter to get the first of many cats that lived with us.

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    1. Well Charlie was not much more romantic. When we were walking he said “I would like to be married to you.” I replied “I would like that.” Then I realized he was proposing! I made him do it for real and demanded not a cat but an engagement ring. Not diamonds of course. We had a local craftsman make a thin gold band with inset tiny sapphires. I was surprised that I wanted a ring, but I did. We are quite faith filled folks, and marriage definitely has a sacramental meaning for us.

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      1. I love that! I think in the end we all have an idea of what we need to make a union meaningful – and then later what that meaning represents. I like the idea of a thin gold band and sapphires. Sounds lovely. I have a white gold band we picked up in New Hope, Pennsylvania about 3 years after we got married. Sage has a silver band that she got a little bit before that. For a while I was so skinny my ring wouldn’t fit on my left hand and I wore it on my right. It was surprising how many people asked me if that meant something special. Nope, it means I hadn’t yet eaten enough snack foods. (Or was just a typical 23 year old with a racing metabolism)

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        1. It’s funny. At the time people kept asking me why they weren’t diamonds and I explained how badly diamond miners were treated at the time. This was before there had been much information out there.

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  5. I think it’s very much harder second time around when both have grown used to their own routines and ways of living. We are still working at it, 14 years on!

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  6. “In retrospect, I think the church was  wise to ensure that we had made a solemn commitment to one another before we cohabited.”

    I died laughing at that line! 😂 Living with my husband was definitely one of those things that made marriage difficult. I’m not sure I’d ever try that again. It was madness!

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