I’ve learned a lot this past year- about myself and relationships. I’ve always known that I desired a relationship like my parents had. One of mutual love and respect for themselves and each other. They made choices that were what was best for their marriage and ignored the standards that society set for marriage and relationships. I went into my marriage that same way.
I have noticed that people tend to let society dictate how their relationship should look and work. Popular culture and our friends all have opinions on what love looks like and how it should be shown. If you don’t follow that norm, then you’re teased and even ridiculed for being outside the box. There is a definite lack of respect in relationships for not just our spouse, but also ourselves.
Choices are made based on what is wanted in the moment with no thought as to the consequences. Boundaries are crossed because today’s culture tells us that what we want now is all that matters. Do what feels good- chat up that guy, go the strip club, message that girl, it’s just dinner, we’re just talking, we’re just friends- it’s all ok if it’s what feels good at the time. But it’s not ok. It’s not loving behavior, and it shows a lack of respect for your spouse and yourself.
As a woman, I have often heard that “men will be men.” They’re just expected to seek validation elsewhere because that’s what they “need”, and we’re just supposed to accept it and be fine with it. I’m not supposed to be hurt when my husband looks another woman up and down because “that’s just what guys do.” But it does hurt, it makes me feel less loved and accepted. When it happens often, it makes me feel ugly and worthless.
We are allowed to have boundaries and have them honored. We should feel worthy and beautiful and protected. I didn’t divorce my ex just because he cheated, I divorced him because he continuously crossed my boundaries. He didn’t respect me or my feelings enough to not hurt me repeatedly. He did what he wanted in the moment because he didn’t respect me or himself enough to have his own boundaries.
Marriage is hard and listening to the “rules” that today’s culture has set for men and women just makes it harder. It causes hurt, heartache, and problems that are unnecessary and painful. What if instead of following others’ ideals, couples spoke freely about their feelings and expectations in relationships? What if both men and women expressed their hurts and desires and talked to each other about what they wanted their marriage to look like? What if they both quit caring about what anyone else thought their relationship should look like?
I never wanted a marriage that was like the rest of the world, I wanted a marriage that took me away from the rest of the world. I wanted that safe place, that haven that did not conform to societal standards. I wanted a husband that didn’t care what other men or women thought of how he treated me or what he did for me. I wanted to be respected and I wanted him to respect himself more than he cared about the opinions of others. I didn’t want what everyone else had, I wanted what God desires for us all to have- an on-earth example of Christ’s love, covenant, and grace. Marriage is a gift and we need to start treating it as such.