The day that changed my life…
The day that I married my husband, John Hope Bryant, changed my life.
The wedding is easy (hence why I wasn’t a bridezilla)…it’s the vows, decluttering your lives and meshing parts of it together, coming together as one, being loving even when you don’t want to, thinking for two not just one, truly being ride or die…it’s all WORK!
For some odd reason, even if you lived with the other person for years before marriage (which we did), matrimony changes certain dynamics. Maybe because while dating you always had an exit strategy, nothing truly kept you there. But as a married couple, there’s a bond that’s not easily broken (or shouldn’t be). You have made vows that you didn’t have to make while single. Is your word worth anything? Or are you all talk?
I took and take my vows seriously. People who attended our wedding walked up to me and said, “wow I could feel those words as you recited your vows. You truly meant what you said!” I don’t play with the commitment that I made to God, my husband, and our families. If you recite marriage vows and have some hesitancy or absolute repulsion, then save you and him/her the grief, and don’t say them.
If you’re lazy or self-centered, then don’t take this leap. It truly isn’t for everyone. Marriage takes work, you have to be actively engaged. Marriage is about being self-less NOT selfish, unless of course you’re preserving your marriage from outsiders…then that team selfishness is acceptable—it just can’t be a solo experience, both of you have to take part in that preservation.
Some people are quick to marry, desperate for the image and appearance of marriage. But if you aren’t putting in the work NOW as a partner, then how do you think you will mystically, magically alter yourself once you become that person’s spouse?
If you don’t have his/her back now, being married to them won’t change that, and if they don’t have your back, guess what? Yep, marriage won’t change that. If they can’t come to you and lean on your shoulder and back, and whatever else they need in order to stand back up on their feet…then guess what? You won’t let them do it once you’re married. If you can’t lean on them, being married to them most likely won’t change that for the better. If the two of you aren’t willing to share the responsibilities of a union now, you won’t be inclined to do so as a married couple.
If the two of you aren’t willing to toss away some of your bad, nasty, ignorant habits and behaviors now, you most likely won’t toss them away once you say your “I Do’s”.
If the two of you struggle to live together (or spend several days in the same place), then how can you possibly live under the same roof as a married couple?
If you don’t make the time for your significant other now, when in the world will you make time for them as a married couple?
If you don’t want children (or you don’t want anymore), but they do, then why subject the two of you to the pain of a battle? Marriage isn’t going to change either of your minds.
Look folks, it’s more than ‘putting a ring on it’. It’s more than sharing someone’s name. It’s more than the public perception of marriage.
Heck, if you want a ring, then you can go get one. Call it a commitment or promise ring. Are you really obsessed with changing your name? Ask yourself “why?” What does it really mean to you? Is it the public appearance and perception that sharing the name guarantees that you’re married to each other? There are a lot of married people who chose not to change their last names, probably because of the headache it causes trying to change it professionally and through the numerous government agencies, etc. They are secure within themselves to not get hung up on a name.
As far as public perception goes, if you’re overly concerned with what other people think, say, and do, then you really should not get married. Marriage is about two people. Your decisions should be made by and for the two of you, not others. No one should have a say in your marriage, not even family. The union is supposed to be supported by your loved ones. They are the ones who are supposed to figuratively (and sometimes literally) smack you upside your head and remind you of your vows and how you don’t have the right to slack in your marriage. They are the ones who are supposed to keep you and your spouse prayed up.
Your bridal party (no matter how big or small) is assembled to be your foot soldiers, not just super cute models for one day. Your bridal party is supposed to be made up of the people who are sworn to protect your marriage and family from all attacks, even when the attackers are you and your spouse. Your bridal party members are supposed to be there to help lift you and your spouse up in your time of need. So why in the world would you be concerned about public perception? Who cares what other people think and say about you? It’s supposed to be the two of you side-by-side, looking out for each other, like a positive Bonnie and Clyde (please no shooting sprees and robberies…please!).
Here are some other things to consider:
Are you willing to sacrifice all for this other person? Would you give your life to spare theirs? Would you do whatever it takes to care for them in sickness, and/or if they lost their job? If the answer is “no” then back away from the altar.
If they are close to their parents but you can’t stand their parents, just leave the marriage thing alone. They aren’t about to choose you over their parents. Marriage isn’t going to make them like you or you like them. If anything, it will pull you farther apart.
If you don’t bring out the best in him/her and they don’t bring out the best in you, don’t even consider marriage. You’re bound to end up in divorce court, wasting money on legal fees, and contemplating changing your name back to the one you had for so many years.
Marriage takes work. It’s labor intensive. But when you truly love, value, respect, and appreciate each other (and your union), then it’s all worth it—and you will do whatever it takes to protect it.
I work each day to protect my husband, our marriage, our family, and our legacy. I can’t risk being lazy or casual about our lives together. We both have the power to lift each other up, or tear each other down. We have a responsibility to each other. I don’t take this responsibility lightly. If you’re also married, you shouldn’t either. If you’re contemplating marriage, please don’t do so casually. Take your time to understand the commitment, the bold as well as the fine print, layout the ground rules and expectations about everything that matters most and least to you, and get plenty of pre-marital counseling so that you both know what you’re getting into before you jump into the deep end of this pool.
Natasha Foreman Bryant (or you can just call me “Mrs. Bryant”)