We Need to Be More Honest about the Realness of Marriage

I think a lot of single women want to rush to get married because they believe too many things they see on social media. They watch too many romantic comedies, post too many #relationshipgoals memes and listen to too much R&B. I know this because I see y’alls statuses, I hear y’alls conversations. (I’m generalizing here, and I’m also a cynic, so…)

That being said, let me warn y’all single ladies: STOP.

Stop the press, and stop it right now.

Don’t believe the hype. Because believing everything you see will fuck up your life, especially when it comes to relationships. Especially when it comes to marriage.

Marriage is not a fairy tale, nor is it an accomplishment or an aspiration. It is not rainbows and fairies and glitter and unicorns. Don’t go into marriage with unrealistic expectations, thinking it will save you from your shitty life, give you the “American Dream,” fulfill your emptiness or guarantee stability for you or your kids. You don’t get married just so you can wake up with someone next to you or just so you can have your dream wedding/execute your Pinterest board or so you won’t be lonely anymore. That ring will not automatically make him change, it will not automatically make you change.

Marriage is real as fuck. It’s hard work — work that doesn’t stop after you’ve reached a certain milestone. It’s a marathon with no finish line (at least not until one of you dies or files them papers). People who are married for decades don’t just stay that way by chance. It wasn’t that once they hit 10 years, everything was smooth sailing. Sure, it gets easier, but it ain’t always.

Because marriage is being the breadwinner when your partner gets laid off or fired or just can’t work anymore. Marriage is helping your partner through sickness — mental or physical — and being in the hospital for days if they’re on their deathbed. It’s supporting them when they want to follow their dreams (and talking some sense into them when they’re being completely irrational about it). It’s taking care of your family while your partner is deployed. It’s figuring out if you want to make it work after catching him or her in bed with someone else. It’s making tons of sacrifices and receiving no acknowledgement for it. It’s insecurity, infertility, miscarriages and parenting styles, it’s your family and their family, money, your phone, it’s Facebook, it’s the dishes, the lawn, the dirty draws…

It’s just about everything you didn’t think it would be. But nobody talks about that. Most of us don’t really talk about marriage until we sit down to really talk about marriage.

Being married is great. Really great. There are many benefits that come with tying the knot (and we’re not going to talk about any of them here because you already know them). Perfection is not one of these benefits. And this lie of “perfect imperfection” ain’t either. No, I don’t want to kiss you when you have morning breath. No, it’s not cute for you to walk into the bathroom while I’m taking a shit. Yes, there are times when your partner will irritate the HELL out of you…like you could literally run them over with a car and not regret it type irritation. Yes, there will be times when y’all will cuss each other out like y’all are ninjas on the street.

That’s the stuff you don’t see, though (except for y’all weirdos who post everything on social media). And maybe we don’t need to see it. But what we do need is to have a realer conversation about the narrative around marriage because we are sending these single ladies off and maybe even giving the guys unrealistic standards to live up to.

Think about what we see. The lead-in to some people’s marriages is magnificent. The elaborate proposals. The engagement photo shoots. The huge weddings with expensive gowns, fancy venues, social-media-worthy dance routines. The honeymoons to exotic places, the blingy wedding rings, the keys to the first house — oh, and let’s not forget about when that first baby comes along.

We always see the beautiful things. But I can guarantee you that the things you don’t see will trip you out.

And I don’t mean little arguments about leaving the toilet seat up or who’s going to take little Jimmy to soccer practice. The same real stuff that happens to you when you’re single can happen when you’re married, except now you have more to lose. And one of the main reasons this is so devastating is because we think putting a ring on a significant other is going to change him/her. NEWSFLASH: That only makes it worse because now your expectations are higher, and the other person will only continue being the same ol’ G they’ve always been. I don’t believe the idea that people change for the person they love; they only change because they want to. Most people just make enough minor behavioral adjustments so that the other person will shut up about it.

One of the other reasons is this: Sometimes, women don’t spend enough time learning and loving themselves before diving into a relationship. So many times, we give our all because we want to prove that we are wife material. If only we spent that much energy learning ourselves, loving everything about ourselves, figuring out what we have the capacity to tolerate for ourselves — not for a significant other. Because once we are completely satisfied with ourselves — and confident that someone will love us as we are — only then can we be ready for the adventure of melding our lives with someone else’s.

I’ve been married for almost six years, and I do not have the hang of this. Are we better than we were four years ago? Hell yeah. Will we have it figured out anytime soon? Probably not, we’re both jerks. Any chance I get, I tell the single ladies in my life to enjoy their period of singleness because this time is crucial. They’re underestimating the importance of it, just as I did, just as so many other women do. You’ll never get another more freeing chance to explore your interests and make mistakes and take risks than now. The more you know yourself, the better chance you have of handling the unexpected with your significant other successfully.

So married women: Don’t be out here telling all ya’ business, but tell a sista the truth when talking about marriage. BECAUSE IT’S HARD. OK, it’s not that hard, but it sure isn’t easy, though, at the end of the day, it’s all worth it.

And we need to support each other too. Because sometimes our partners suck. And our kids are mean.

We gotta stick together through these times and, as these young people say, keep it 100.