As a young wife, I decided to share a few thoughts about the fascinating process that changed so much in my life: the transition from singleness to oneness, from living a separate life as an unmarried woman to adjusting individuality so it can be compatible with life as a couple.
Consider how incredible this is: yesterday, you lived in different homes, had separate lives, went to bed at different hours, and each had his or her private world. Today, all you have, all you are and all you hope to become is shared with another person, who is to become your life partner under the blessed covenant of marriage. Two adults, a man and a woman, with different backgrounds, tastes, desires, experiences and thoughts become one. What an unbelievable alchemy of human souls!
Our culture, which sadly teaches us to be self-focused and self-centered, doesn't promote oneness in marriage. On the contrary, most often you'll hear things such as, "you need to preserve your individuality and remember you're a separate human being"; "you cannot allow marriage to interfere with your life ambitions"; "be careful not to forget about your personal growth" - and is it a wonder, when we are treated like irresponsible children until our mid-twenties?
"I would love to get married," - some young women tell me, - "but I'm afraid it will require me to make adjustments in some of my plans for the next couple of years."
Well naturally! Once marriage takes place, it makes no sense to talk about "my" plans, "my" life, "my" desires... everything becomes mutually shared, and yes, adjustments must be made - otherwise, you'll end up in big trouble.
But please, don't think I mean to sound self-righteous here. I often mention in my writings what a wonderful man my husband is, and what a fortunate woman I consider myself to be - but it doesn't mean I'm anywhere near perfect. It also doesn't mean the transition from two to one went/is going in a completely smooth and unhindered way for me. In fact, during those first few months of wifehood, I felt several times like I had been... well, knocked out. I remember that first morning I woke up to see a wedding ring glittering on my finger - and I thought to myself, wow, I'm a wife now! So what do I do? I was so eager to start!
One of the first things I learned was that I didn't just become "a wife". I became a wife to my husband, which obviously meant that the adjustments I had to make must fit his needs. My husband didn't require a perfectly clean home; he wasn't very insistent on elaborate meals, either; on the other hand, some of what he requested seemed strange to me at first. I was used to doing things differently, and I didn't understand why this or that should even matter... and in the end, I thought to myself: enough that it matters to him. If it's important to him, and going along with what he wants doesn't hurt me in any way, why insist on continuing to do things my way? Obviously, there won't be "my way" or "his way" anymore, but rather, our way, which must be worked out together.
It turned out that a particular challenge for me, as surprising as it must seem, is simple conversation. I grew up as an only child, in a household where family members didn't see too much of each other during the day, so without even noticing it I became a loner. I used to do things in silence, without telling them to anyone but my diary. At first, when my husband expressed his puzzlement as to why I don't tell much about my day, I truly didn't understand what he was talking about. Tell about my day? How does one do that? ;-)
Also, only with marriage I came to the realization of just how hanged up on my privacy I am, and why it can be such a hindrance to building a life together. Another thing typical of our only-child generation. Of course, in the past not everyone had big families either, but look at the trend. My grandmother had 6 siblings. She had 4 children - and only 4 grandchildren, out of whom only one, so far, is married (my cousins are 30, 35, and 40). In the past, even if you happened to have no brothers and sisters, most likely you had many cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. Being used to life in a big family goes a long way, I believe, in preparing you to having a family of your own. In a big family, you must - by default - share, make compromises, and be flexible.
Our families are shrinking, and the alarming divorce rate indicates that we have not been taught to be responsible for another human being. I'm not saying that growing up as an only child made me selfish, but it certainly made me too well adjusted to a lonely life, which I didn't realize until I embarked on the road of establishing a life together with my husband.
For me, the journey of becoming one just begins. Marriage takes work. It takes work for me as a young wife, and I suppose it will continue taking work in five, ten, twenty years. It can never be taken for granted. It requires adjustment, flexibility, creativity, compassion, kindness, willingness to meet each other needs - and a good sense of humor can never hurt, either. :-) Oh, and it's so worth it.