Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thoughts on Dating and Marriage

The words cut to the core: "You better get all your dating advice out now, because no one will want it after you're married." The thoughts came from my soon-to-be husband, when he heard me giving a friend some relationship "suggestions." At first, I dismissed the thought thinking, "No way, I give legit dating advice! Why would it suddenly be irrelevant after I'm married? That's ridiculous!"

And then it hit me. It was as if all the negative thoughts I'd ever had upon receiving dating advice from a married person came flooding back to me. I'd relate boy drama to some married friend or another, more just to vent (and sometimes I'll admit I would hold back, because I was so certain they wouldn't understand), and then their advice would come. I'd generally roll my eyes and think, "yeah right. You have no idea what it's like. You're married. And you got married when you were 21 (or insert any age younger than I was). You don't know what it's like to be 27 and still dating." And then, "...29 and still dating." and "...30 and still dating," etc. After all, they had someone. I just had myself (which I never thought was all that bad, just to be clear). But, how could they possibly know what it felt like to be my age and still dating. They were clueless in my eyes. Clueless about so many things. While they were worried about what kind of diapers to buy their kid, I was still worried about what party I should go to that weekend. Their advice might have worked for them, back when they were single. But I was me. I was different. It was a different time. And they could not possibly fathom what it was like to be me and still single. Not possibly. (I know, I know...)

I'll admit. The part of me that likes to tell people how it is was crushed upon Isaac's statement. "But so and so needs to know this. Someone has to tell them. If not me, then who?! My input is so useful!"

Well, now that I have a few months of marriage under my belt, I've realized all the more that Isaac's words were right. No one wants dating advice from a married person (at least not unless they specifically ask you for it). It's okay to listen and give encouragement. But advice? Forget it. This hit me even more this week when I learned that a dear friend was avoiding calling me recently because I "was married and wouldn't understand." What?! I wanted to fire back, "But I just got married. How am I any different? I'm still Andrea!" As if suddenly my whole persona had changed and I no longer connected socially with her as I once did (just five months ago, mind you), simply because my relationship status changed. But, I didn't say anything. Because I knew. So, instead of offering the dating input I knew she wanted (just not from me), I told her to go read this blog that an acquaintance had recently written on dating, because the advice was pretty decent. She asked if that person was married. Yes, I sheepishly admitted. And she quipped back with, "Well, then what makes her a dating expert?" Okay. Fine.

I still "get it" though. I do. I'll always get it. At least to an extent. Because I was there. Much longer than I have been here. Perhaps a part of newly wed life, or at least part of mine, has been trying to figure out what it means to not be that person. As silly as it sounds. Because I get that life. It brought meaning, value, strength and faith to my life I wouldn't trade for anything. Though I know the years ahead will bring their own value to my life, this new part of me is still figuring out what married life means exactly (please don't mistake that for being ungrateful, because I am extremely thankful). Though, I now understand that the status of being married makes me seemingly unrelatable to those who aren't.

And no one really warns you about that change in all those dating and marriage prep classes.

So, rest assured, I gave plenty of dating advice to friends before October 20, 2012 rolled around. I had to get it out.
One of my fav pictures of Isaac and I while we were dating, that someone stealthily took at church (ha ha)
Taking engagement pictures in Seattle.
October 20, 2012. What a good day.