Tuesday, January 29

What I Wish I'd Known When I Was Single

Oh yes, I am seriously writing this post. I have wanted to for a while now and I can assure you it's some pretty good advice. I am going to do my best not to sound high and mighty in any way because I am certainly no dating or marriage expert, but I think I know enough to help some young ladies (and I hope some young men, too!) change their single lifestyle habits.

We're cute. I know...embarrassing.
When I was single, I wish I had known that it really is important to always be myself. I got this pretty quickly (early high school) but only because my mom was always reminding me to be myself. Sometimes I would just say, "Mom, I am being myself!" but now I know truly what that means. Trust me, it took all of a few hours of marriage for me to realize that this is for real and that within a matter of days, we are going to have no boundaries whatsoever. There is nothing you can hide forever. And you shouldn't be trying to do that at all if you are planning on spending an eternity with someone. There is just no point. I hope every girl knows that it is physically impossible to look cute all the time. I'm sorry, but every girl I have ever seen first thing in the morning looks ridiculous. And guys, please make sure you know what a girl looks like without makeup before marrying her. Because chances are, you are going to see her that way (makeup free) a LOT. Every day. And some girls look like a completely different person without their makeup. I would hate for an innocent young man to wake up after his very first night with his sweetheart and not recognize the person next to him. 

Besides being yourself physically, be yourself in general. Usually (and hopefully always) the person you fall in love with brings out the very best in you. That is a terrific, wonderful, magical thing! But trust me, it is not a never-ending supply of goodness from your heart. If you are a naturally impatient person like I am, it will come out at one time or another! It is SO hard not to take the one you love for granted. It is a little like being with your parents and brothers and sisters. After being away from them for a long time, reuniting is always happy and joyful. But after a few days together you start to remember the things they do that annoy you and may have a hard time treating them as nicely as you did when you first showed up. Marriage is the same way. You think you could never ever possibly be mean or annoyed with the one you love, but we're human and it happens. You may also and almost certainly will realize that many impolite and undignified bodily functions are less embarrassing when you're married. It sounds ridiculous and you might think that could never be you, but being with someone all day every day leaves plenty of room for awkward events to occur. In all honesty, it takes a few weeks and sometimes months to get used to one another, but eventually you do. And you come to accept that your spouse does things that, while annoying at times, can be overlooked. Do not be nit-picky. Pointing out the zillion little obnoxious things is not very nice and certainly is not conducive to building a healthy marriage. 

There is a wonderful (and short) story relating to this very thing here. It is regarding what Sister Walters calls "The Grapefruit Syndrome." It is a great little story that helps to remind me that we should not seek to point out the irritating habits that those we love possess.

When I was single, I wish I had dedicated more time to cultivating talents that would help me now. Admittedly, I am referring in particular to domestic talents such as cooking. I have always loved and had an interest in cooking. It is my personal belief that anyone who wants to be the mother of a big family (as I do) had better have some decent cooking skills. Despite my interest, I did not know how to cook. Before I left for college, I had my mom show me how to cook a number of popular dishes and write down recipes and cooking instructions for most of them. I was determined that I would not starve in college. While being on my own helped me a little, it was nothing compared to change of being married. Cooking for two is harder than cooking for one. For whatever reason, it seems almost impossible to get the portions for two people correct. (Especially when you don't know exactly how much your spouse is going to eat. In my case, making more is always the better option.) It literally took about the first six months of marriage to feel like I was a semi-good cook. By month six of playing with recipes and watching the Food Network (I don't really want to say religiously, but...), I finally felt sufficiently confident in my cooking. I had at least a dozen recipes that were easy and consistently successful. 

In addition to cooking, I was grateful I had a little bit of sewing experience. Husbands can sometimes be home-wreckers. Fortunately, Dalin is not one of those. He also can sew pretty well from his mission. But if I had not figured out how to, essentially, be a wife (and in a way, a mother--I'll return to that), I would have felt much more helpless when it came to running my own home. As a woman, you tend to think when you get married that you will be a great little wife just like Gaston thought Belle would be. Then you actually get married and you discover you are much more than a wife. You are a housekeeper, a cook (very often), a disciplinarian (at times), and even a mother. That sounds weird but seriously, you are just like a mom to your husband. Our bishop explained that a husband coming into a marriage expects his wife to take care of him whether this is conscious or subconscious. Being around a woman who is independent and knows how to take care of herself maybe makes him assume he will suddenly become an immediate part of the bargain. You might not be the homely type at all but frequently find yourself picking up your husband's socks and then helping him find a clean pair when he insists he can't find any (this, I will admit, is a fairly common experience in our home). I used to be terrible at finding things. My mom would always find things the moment she came to look and would wonder if I had even tried looking. Now I can honestly say I know what that is like. Cultivate your talents! It will make your married life ten times easier if you don't have to adjust too much.

When I was single, I wish I had practiced good habits concerning my spirituality. I am not suggesting I never prayed or read the scriptures, and I absolutely attended my church meetings...but when these habits are not a very significant part of your day or even your life, it becomes much harder to practice them when the business of married begins. It is very easy to think, "As soon as we get married, we will pray every morning and night together and read scriptures for this long every single day. And we will attend the temple every week and hold FHE every Monday." If you are not doing those things yourself already, you're living in a dream world. It is definitely easy the first week to begin and feel as though you will have a perfect record, but the day will come when you will forget to do one or the other and fall out of habit. Dalin and I are much better at reading our scriptures than we were at other parts of our relationship. We are also very consistent at saying our couples' prayer together. But it took us a while to get into the habit of holding some form of FHE. It is really hard when there are only two of you. We lied to ourselves a lot saying, "We'll be perfect at this once we have kids." Well we aren't perfect at it now so that most likely will not be the case. We attend the temple about once a month which never feels like enough to me. Married life is so much busier than you can possibly imagine until you're in it. Schedules are crazy and change and make it very hard to practice the spiritual habits that help families progress. We are still far from perfect, but we do consistently remember the saying, "Families that pray together, stay together." And that is something we do not forget.

When I was single, I wish I had not cared so much about what others thought of me. It's funny, I never thought I was that way until I got married. Looking back I was like: What was wrong with me. After I got married, I quickly (very quickly) got to the point where everyone (outside the Savior and Dalin) mattered a little less. Not in the way that they were less important, but in the way that I recognized that I was now in my own family unit and that I, along with Dalin, was responsible for making my own decisions regardless of the way I had grown up. When you get married, you have to know that your spouse came from a different family, a different lifestyle, and sometimes you will see that your parents' way was perhaps not the best way, or perhaps just not the way that would work for your family. You and your spouse are of course now responsible for choosing your way, whether that be a blend of both sets of parents' ways or a completely new way. It can be hard to let go of some of the things you knew from your childhood family life, but it is a skill you must learn to best adapt. Anyway--back to not being so self-conscious--it really does happen. You might suddenly have the courage to go to class in sweats with no makeup (or you might have already been doing that...). Or you might be in the checkout line and not be such a pushover because you are officially a married adult. It really does happen and I suspect that when you have children, you get even more courageous and less conscious of the opinions of others. I know that being pregnant has suddenly made me less of a pushover at work. When some rude or idiotic tenant complains about something we have no control over, I now have no problem telling him or her that he or she is out of line and that they are complaining to the wrong person. Because I am naturally non-confrontational (believe it or not, though I do think my writing suggests otherwise sometimes), I used to apologize and apologize for other people's mistakes and feel really bad that the person on the phone seemed to hate me for something I didn't cause at all. Now I think, Don't you dare mess with me, I will not put up with your rudeness for a second. That is definitely new for me. I don't know if I got my point across for this one in the way I wanted, but basically, don't worry about those people who don't know you and who seem to judge you. Getting married automatically gives you a gigantic boost to the self-confidence, and even though it is still important to be nice to people, you will realize that truly, their words do not matter. And if you forget that occasionally, at least you will have your wonderful spouse to hold you and remind you that there are way more important things. 

When I was single, I wish I had been more daring and brave in my relationships with others. As touched on earlier, once you're married, there are no (and should be no) secrets. You tell your spouse how you feel. You communicate like adults and like best friends. If you're like Dalin and me, you might get kind of weird. I think a lot of married people get more weird. You become more like your spouse and have your own inside jokes and single people look at you and think, You have changed. I have never seen you act that way...Generally speaking, you and your spouse will probably speak to each other very differently when alone than with other people around you. You single people have no idea. Yet. Look at how your parents act when they're weird and then multiply that by a large sum. I think parents probably tend to rein in their weirdness once they have kids. But what I meant by being brave was that I wish I had not held back so much in some relationships. I should have been more open and willing to share my feelings. I guarantee had I done that, there would have been times that I would have been shot down (possibly a lot) but it would have been worth it. The reason I chose not to have a boyfriend before I met Dalin was because, even though I was not particularly looking to get married, I was not looking for a dead-end relationship. I did not want to put myself in a position that could get me in trouble before I was married and frankly, I did not want to waste time with someone that there was no foreseeable future with. I did not like wasting my time or someone else's. I am very grateful for that decision, as it made me very cautious as I looked for qualities in someone that I wanted in a future husband but I do wish I had been more bold and direct. What I really want to say to you single people is stop beating around the bush with each other. Seriously, if you like someone and tell them, and they don't like you back, it's going to hurt for about five minutes (or maybe five weeks) but you will find someone new and there will one day be someone who returns those feelings. And that will be so special that you will forget about that time you got rejected. I think single students waste WAY too much time. You don't have to get engaged after two and a half months (like some of us...) but you should not spend so much time secretly thinking you're in love with someone only to find that the relationship is not going anywhere or they do not feel the same way. Be honest. Be brave. It pays off. I think the biggest step to finding your spouse is taking that step at some point. One day you will be brave and it you will have your own fairytale ending. But I suggest that you skip a few steps and take those steps now. Endure rejection (if it comes at all!) and know that you are fast forwarding a little closer to the moment when you find your eternal companion. 

Laughter is important. If you don't have that, you don't have much. 

This was one long post, but if you made it through, please tell me what you thought. I might add a few things to a follow-up post if you have a really good suggestion.

So suggest away! And if you're single, I want to know if you think what I'm saying makes sense.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, first your blog is one of my favorites to read. Just thought you should know :) And second, everything that you are saying makes complete sense and I agree wholeheartedly. Even though I'm not married, I feel like these are all things that I know the importance of and things that I am doing right now so that I don't go into a marriage having no idea what I'm getting myself into (which I feel many people do, but we don't need to go into that). Definitely something that a lot of girls at BYU need to hear!


I absolutely love to hear from you & will reply if I can!