Expectations For Marriage

I am by every means a hopeless romantic. I believe in true love. I believe in happy endings. I like the warm, happy feelings of love. I also live with the pain of a hopeless romantic, in my time spent in and out of relationships. As a hopeless romantic, I love to watch Chick Flicks (I can smell the emasculating judgment brewing already). This weekend I went to the theater and watched the movie Friends with Benefits. I was struck by this scene about what people truly want in life and out of a partner:

The truly traumatic loss of our mental images of relationships makes it look all glamorous, all passion all the time. Life is less about relationships like the one in The Notebook where you passionately have sex for two days, and more about who you spend your Saturday’s with. Although we love to laugh at the scene, few characters get this more right than Will Ferrell’s character in Old School (Frank the Tank).

Relationships that exist solely on passion, flee quickly. Marriage seems more about mutual submission than spur of the moment living. Marriage is about learning how to fight well. Fighting with that person, fighting for that person, fighting against that person. Marriage is about learning how to balance the daily life with another person.

There are very few things I hate more in this world than camping. I hate bugs. I hate the idea of sleeping on the ground. I don’t like food cooked on a charcoal grill. I don’t like being contained with the same people over an extended period of time (introverted thing). Any person who will want to marry will know that I will not want to go camping with them. Any person that wants to marry me should know that I withdraw quickly if you want to talk about the weather with me. A married friend of mine brings me back to a concept he calls “taking one for the team.” She wants to go camping, take one for the team. She wants to talk about the weather, take one for the team. One of you wants to have sex and the other one doesn’t, take one for the team. He says taking one of the ways to keep a marriage happy is to take one for the team.

The idea of mutual submission goes a long way. Without it, no woman is bound to be able to handle all of my personality flaws, all of my stupid impulses. Mutual submission requires radical self-awareness in both parties. It requires great communication. It also requires a literal till’ death do us part mentality. Which may mean I am going to die on the inside some Saturdays because I took one for the team and went camping. There are no perfect people; there are no perfect marriages. Camping might be my deathbed to a happy marriage.


9 thoughts on “Expectations For Marriage

  1. I like everything you have to say except “marriage is learning how to fight well” If that is what it is …I would rather be single. Why does everything have to be a fight?

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Hey Mark,
      Good question. When I think of fighting with a married partner it looks like this. Fighting for someone, means fighting for their life. You desire a quality of life for them. This might mean stay in touch with reality. Go and have fun. Take some time for yourself and be at peace. Fighting against someone is inevitable. Fighting against someone with boundaries and non-violence is learning how to fight against them well. Fighting with someone, looks like people fighting with each other for a common good or cause.

      I too do not like fighting.

  2. Kate Haas says:

    Mike– I love this post! I’ve never been married but I have a lot of friends who are, and I’ve also read a lot of books on how to (sort of) prepare yourself for marriage. I say “sort of” because there is no way you can fully prepare yourself for marriage. It’s a free-fall situation, and all we can do is allow God to purify our hearts and plant seeds of faithfulness and sacrifice so that when those fights come along — and they inevitably will — we can be ready for them. Because if you don’t know what to say no to, you’ll say yes to anything. Keep writing! You’re reaching more people than you can imagine!

  3. gedert014 says:

    I like this post a lot Mike. Needs to be more guys like you in the world 🙂

  4. Beka says:

    hah, gotta be my favorite part: “I don’t like being contained with the same people over an extended period of time (introverted thing).”

    i kind of agree.
    and the “learning how to fight well”…it get it. it’s not always pleasant fighting with someone you love, but sometimes you just learn and grow and learn to respect them for what they’re fighting for, also.
    [at least, that’s the extent of my experience with sibling and friend relationships so far]

    great post!

  5. Hi Mike,
    After forty years of marriage to the glorious Sue and still loving every minute of it, I can say that the choice to serve and put the other first, which I take it is what you mean by ‘one for the team’, actually becomes the ultimate joy of loving. So find yourself that woman before too long!

  6. I’ve only been married a year and a half but this is how I talked about marriage too before I was married. No offense intended, as I would say I still talk about it this way but in a different way. It is most certainly about learning how to fight well – which is so difficult. That means not throwing out the bombs just to make your side look better, it means keeping your cool, being rational, it means re-evaluating what would be a win for you (a win for you by default is a loss for the other). It means truly forgiving the person for the last fight, and not saving up ammunition (and the temptation to keep a list of faults handy for the next fight is soo strong).

    Mutual submission sounds really freaking romantic when it is blood and guts man. It means deciding your day is going to feature some unpleasantness. It means deciding to lose, even if it is grossly unfair and your point wasn’t heard or respected.

  7. Roy Justus says:

    Having just celebrated our first anniversary last night, in the middle of a dry place(recently moved away from our families, unemployed for two months) in our lives, my wife and I are struggling with how to fight, still. But we’re getting better. Whenever I think about that fact, I’m comforted by the words of Bruce Cockburn, in his song “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”

    Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight/ You’ve got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight.

    Mutual submission is scary, because it involves trusting that someone else can meet your needs, and that you will be up to meeting their needs, and that both of you are submitting not only to each other, but to God.

  8. such a good blog, thanks for sharing!

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