Day Sixteen: Prepared (or so I thought)
Growing up, Sunday school teachers, camp counselors and other adult females occasionally prompted a group of us young girls to make a list of what we wanted in a husband. Those activities usually came with the caveat “Save this list. Keep these characteristics in mind. Don’t waver from those characteristics you need in a man. If this is what you want, don’t settle.” I think I only had one counselor tell us we’d probably look back and laugh at our lists when we got older.
While I agree that neither women nor men should settle for any old person who comes along to be their lifelong mate, the idea of making a list when you’re a 10-, 11-, 12- or even 16-year-old girl is a little strange. By making those lists – one of which I think I still have – I thought I was prepared for marriage. I thought if I could pinpoint what I wanted, find someone who met those criteria, I’d be home free.
Let’s just say that years after making said lists, I may have once said to Cory, “You’re not at all who I imagined ending up with.”
That remark drew a confused grimace from my renegade swashbuckling hero, so I explained. “I don’t mean that I’m not happy being with you. I mean that I am being happy with you, and almost none of the reasons I’m happy being with you is what I thought it would be when I imagined getting married. So I’m surprised and glad. What does a 13-year-old know about what she wants in a husband anyway? I found something better.”
The beauty (or horror) of it all is that I’ll never be “prepared” for marriage. I don’t think anyone is completely prepared. Yes, I’ve read a marriage book already. Yes, Cory and I plan to do pre-marriage counseling with our officiant. Yes, I’m working through a book the pastor gave each of us. But I’m having to come to terms with the fact that it doesn’t matter how much preparation I do, because I’ll never be prepared. Things are going to happen that neither of us sees coming. Jobs may be lost. Loved ones may die or get hurt without warning. Angry words may be exchanged. Birthdays may be forgotten. Feelings may be ignored. Cars may break down. Heirlooms may be stolen in a break-in.
Being the control freak that I am, it drives me crazy to not have things lined up like I think they should be. By reading marriage books and such, in my mind, I’m doing everything I can to safeguard against frightening shouting matches and years of regret of marrying in the first place. At the same time, I logically know that nothing I do can 100 percent prevent against anger, fear, resentment or feelings of isolation for the lifetime I’m about to commit to spending with Cory. That lack of control totally freaks me out, because I wanted to be prepared. But I have to embrace that I never will be, and neither will he. We’ll have to learn together.