I will admit to being one of those girls that grew up daydreaming about my future wedding. My planned color scheme and floral arrangements changed over the years, but dreaming about my “special day” was always exciting. Stereotypically girly, I know.
But getting married isn’t just a wedding, it’s a marriage. This seems counterintuitive. Of course a couple gets “married” to start a “marriage.” But think about that for a second. What is a marriage? It’s making two separate lives one. It’s making a commitment to another person for the rest of one’s life.
Hold up, Skippy! That’s heavy stuff.
But, in all seriousness, during the thrill of a relationship and the prospect of getting married, we don’t always think of a wedding as the beginning of a marriage. We think of it as a party that is supposedly “the best day of our lives.” Which, yes. Weddings are important and memorable. They kick off what, God willing, should be a lifetime of sacrificial love and willing commitment. But weddings have become so commercialized in culture that the true purpose of getting married is clouded over by floral arrangements, registries and whatever sort of centerpiece you can make out of a Mason jar.
And, don’t get me wrong, all that stuff is good. But I encourage every girl who’s pushing for their man to pop the question to stop and think about this for a minute. Do you really want a marriage, or do you really want a wedding?
I’ve been dating my (awesome) boyfriend, Cameron, for over three years, and we started talking marriage pretty early on. But it took me a long time, and a lot of weddings, to realize that what I wanted was a wedding. I found that after talking about marriage for 2.5 years, I had put my future wedding on a pedestal. It had become my idol. And because of this skewed view, I was ready to rush into something I wasn’t yet mature enough to handle.
Then I backpedaled. I no longer wanted a wedding, I wanted to elope and make a statement about how meaningless weddings had become. The hipster in me thought weddings were too mainstream, and that true love should be more than the Pinterest-y, commercialized events society has made them.
But then I realized that was no better than idolizing my wedding. Either way, I was giving the day itself more weight than it deserves. Because I should be focusing on the marriage. You know, the part of the deal that will last a whole lot longer and be a whole lot more meaningful and challenging.
I also came to the realization that focusing less on idols requires more focus on God.
“He must become greater; I must become less.” – John 3:30
By making God a greater priority in our lives, the relationship between Cameron and I has thrived in a way it never did (and never could have) when a future wedding was our goal.
Now, I don’t mean our relationship was completely superficial before this epiphany. I also want to clarify that our relationship wasn’t magically transformed into perfect sunshine, unicorns and 24/7 rainbows.
I just want to underscore the fact that we’ve grown in maturity by working through some of these things in Christ and as a couple.
And I would encourage any couple who is talking seriously about marriage to do the same. Take a step back, seek the advice of married couples, pore over scripture (together and individually) and pray. Ask God to help you search your heart for signs of idolatry. Ask Him to take the place of the idols in your life.
Don’t get me wrong, I still fantasize about my future wedding. Because, admittedly, it’s fun. But my main focus is no longer a countdown to when we could feasibly get hitched. It’s about growing in my relationship with Christ first, and letting that spill over into my relationship with Cameron as a result.
And the coolest part is that we get to do that together. We both have the same goal. Which is really exciting – more exciting than a wedding will be. Because growing together in Christ will always be central to our relationship and – one day – our marriage.
And eventually we will get married. But it will be in God’s timing. Which is not rushed or premature, because it’s perfect.