Wooohoooo ... Marriage!

Before we get into today’s topic, let me first shout-out the rest of the SBM staff for bringing me on board. I’m looking forward to contributing and bringing my married man’s perspective to many of the topics we often discuss here. I can be a little long winded at times so forgive me if you’re eyes get tired. Lastly, those of you on twitter can catch me here: @MrSpradley

I am 27 years old and entering my 5th year as a married man, actually, yesterday, March 10th marked the 5th year anniversary of the day I proposed to my wife. Pretty ironic considering SBM’s post on engagement rings. One of the most interesting aspects of being young, black, married and male is that because so few of my peers are also married, there are an abundance of misconceptions floating around about what this life is actually like. From the smaller ones like, the idea that my marriage was the product of an unexpected pregnancy, to the larger ones like the assumption that my marriage is perfect, marriage for many is a mystery and in today’s post, I want to go through some of these misconceptions and hopefully spark some discussion around the gap between expectations and reality when it comes to being married.

1. “Do you guys have kids?”

Invariably, after my wife or I tells someone that we’re married, their next question is always “Do you guys have kids?” or “How many kids do you guys have?” It’s not so much that I mind folks asking this, I don’t, what intrigues me is the subtle judgment that often lays just beneath the surface of what is said when this question is asked. Sometimes it seems like the idea of two (relatively) young people getting married is so foreign, that, folks assume that kids must have had something to do with it. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with getting married to create a stable home for your children or a child that’s on the way – it’s just not my situation.

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2. “Love is all you need.”

Another major misconception around marriage is the idea that, as long as you love each other, everything will work out. This is a fallacy. The truth is, love is not only an emotion, but a verb. What I mean is, love is not only something you feel, but also something you do. When you’re married, you can feel all the love in the world for your mate but if those feelings don’t inspire action, they’re worthless. The reality is, sometimes, you’re not going to feel very loving. There are plenty of times where your spouse won’t meet your expectations, will hurt you or disappoint you or make you as angry as you can possibly be.  In those times, despite how you’re feeling, you still have to choose to love them, and fulfill the commitments you’ve made to them.  If you don’t have something other than an emotion you describe as “love” as the foundation for your relationship, there’s a good chance you’ll falter with the ebbs and flows of that feeling.

3. “Marriage Changes you, or, you can change once you’re married.”

This idea that a wedding can be the impetus for major change in an individual is one of the bigger misconceptions around marriage. Getting married doesn’t change people, it exposes people. Everything about who you were before you got married gets put under a magnifying glass once you were married. I have a few male friends who hare habitual cheaters, but, they believe in the sanctity of marriage and plan to remain faithful to their wives once they take the plunge. I tell them all the time, marriage won’t make you stop cheating, you’ve got to break that habit before you propose to a woman. If you’ve been unfaithful to your last 5 girlfriends, you’ll be unfaithful to your wife. Break the habit first, then get married. On the flip side, I know plenty of women who plan on allowing their husbands to lead once they get married; problem is, they’ve never allowed a man to lead them in any other relationship. Again – be the change first. Trying to learn the nuances of submission after you’ve already walked down the aisle is almost impossible.

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4. “Once married, life as you know it, is officially over.”

This misconception is partly true, but not as true as folks assume. Single dudes always think that once a man gets married he’s retiring from all things that might be considered fun. This is not true. The truth is, marriage is as fun as you make it. All of the things I enjoyed before getting married, like partying, traveling, drinking, going out to dinner, making sweet love, laughing – all that good stuff can be transferred into your marriage. The only difference is that you’ll be doing all that stuff with the same person, for-ev-er, for-ev-er, for-ev-er. If you’ve done a good job choosing a person whose company you never tire of, you’re straight. It’s actually better because you now have a permanent partner-in-crime. Someone who’s always on your team, always takes your side, and always has your back. You develop your own language and signals, you basically communicate telepathically and that sort of connection should enhance the fun you were having as a single person, not hinder it. Now, if you’re the guy who attaches a great deal of value to being with new women, then, this is a larger adjustment.

5. “Finding a spouse is about finding the proverbial ‘soul-mate.'”

People often assume that finding a person to spend the rest of your life with is about finding a soulmate. In reality, soul-mates are made not born. It’s not that there’s one single solitary person out there aimlessly wandering the Earth waiting for you to find them. Therefore it’s not really a good idea for you to wander the Earth aimlessly waiting for some kindred spirit to discover you. There are plenty of people who could be perfect for you, and you might be the perfect partner for more people than you could possibly fathom. I always tell people, my wife is not special. I’m not special either. We had great chemistry together, enjoyed each others company and became good friends. We used that friendship as the foundation for our relationship. But, she would have made a great wife for lots of guys. She’s that dope. And I would have been a fair-to-middlin husband for lots of women because I think I’m pretty ok myself. The point is, be productive with yourself in the time that you’re alone. Don’t approach life as if you’re waiting to find someone or for someone to find you, just be productive, make yourself the best person you can be. The relationship that grows into your marriage will be a direct reflection of the work you’ve put into being the best “you” you can be.

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So there you have it folks. These are some of the things I’ve noticed in my time being married. What sort of expectations do you guys have around marriage? What do you look forward to?  Are there things I haven’t addressed above that you’re curious about or have questions around. Feel free to ask in the comments section.

For those of you who join the discussion, I’ll see you shortly, as for the lurkers, I hope you enjoyed my first post here and I’ll catch you in two weeks.

Until then – stay low and keep firing.