While having drinks with a friend of mine one day, I got the best relationship advice that I’ve ever gotten. Come to think of it, most of the relationship advice that I had gotten was negative, more warning than advice:
Wait until you guys live together, then you’ll fight.
Things won’t always be this good, so enjoy it while you can.
Every couple fights.
When I got my friends advice, my husband and I were still doing long-distance, and my friend and I were talking about dating and relationships. He had been married and divorced four times, so he was an unlikely source for the best advice.
“You have to be married before you’re married,” he said. “You guys are more married than a lot of married couples I know.”
We live in a culture in which couples “play house” and pretend to be married from the get-go. There’s a lot of pressure from social media and society and family to settle down in the picture perfect relationship, so it seems like a lot of times people pretend that they’re married immediately not having the patience to let the relationship grow. I’ve had friends that would go on a few dates and all of a sudden, the guy would have a key to her house and be refinishing furniture in her living room. He wasn’t the one and she knew it, but for whatever reason-appearance, outside pressure-they rushed through a lot of steps into a relationship.
Being married before you’re married is different then just giving Joe Shmo a key to the house or living with someone. It’s understanding that there’s now an extension of you with whom you make decisions. It’s communicating with each other clearly and kindly.
Nothing changes on your wedding day besides your name (which actually takes forever to change) and a new piece of jewelry you get to wear. For us, marriage was a formality that made things legal, but we knew that we would be together for the rest of our lives with or without the rings. The ring isn’t what ties us to each other. It’s love and respect and mutual goals. I hear of people being nervous before their wedding or asking others if they think they should get married or knowing as they walk down the aisle that they don’t want kids with the person at the end, and those are huge red flags that maybe it’s not the right person.
Waiting to find the person that makes you feel good about yourself, that respects your opinions, that you can talk with, that makes decisions with you, can be frustrating, but it’s so worth it. Jumping into something and pretending the relationship is deeper than it is doesn’t benefit anyone. And when you’re married before you’re married, you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the person you stand next to at the alter will be next to you forever.