Great Expectations: Contemplating Marriage after Long-term Singleness

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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For years, I never understood my mom and step-dad’s television-watching arrangement. Though my mom doesn’t really like sports or hunting or wild animals, she would sit dutifully on the couch in the family room where my step-dad would watch these shows for hours.

And it’s not like there wasn’t another TV in the house. Occasionally, when I was there for an evening, my mom and I would slip into the bedroom to watch a movie or a favorite sitcom. But more often than not, especially when my mom and step-dad were in the house alone, she would sit with him, regardless of what was on.

It made me wonder: if I got married, would I forever give up watching what I wanted on television? And really, television is so small in the scheme of things. What else might I have to sacrifice?

For the last few months, even before my boyfriend slipped a diamond ring on my finger and promised to love me forever, I had been anticipating marriage more intently. Our relationship was growing increasingly serious, and we had begun to talk about the future.

It wasn’t like I had always expected a walk down the aisle or a life of marital bliss. I’ve never forgotten the line in the 1993 movie, Sleepless in Seattle, about the near impossible odds of finding a husband over the age of 40.

“That’s not true,” Meg Ryan’s character had protested in the movie.

“That`s right it`s not true, but it feels true,” her friend had said. And it had felt true to me, too. Just seven months ago, I was the one who wrote passionately here about the merits of singleness and living alone. On the Friday when the essay was published, I had no prospects for marriage.

I was introduced to Steve two days later.

Now that it’s really happening, now that I have a dress hanging in the closet and a church reserved under my name and his, I wonder if the expectations I have accumulated over the years will have anything to do with the reality of marriage.

When I was younger, my list of what I wanted in a man had more to do with appearances and interests. As I got older, the list evolved more into beliefs and priorities. In recent years, I really just wanted someone who would take out the garbage and see that the car had its oil changed . . . plus share my beliefs and priorities, of course.

Over the years I’ve prayed for the man who would one day be my husband. I prayed for his health and safety. I prayed that he would know Jesus and be growing in his faith. Back around 2001, I started praying that he would know English. (Opening up the boundaries of my search seemed obvious to the still-single 30-something me.)

Steve has exceeded a life-time of expectations, and all my prayers for him were answered. Now, the biggest fear I have preparing for marriage is what to expect from myself. I have been single all of my 42 years, and for most of the last twenty years, I have lived alone. Will I be flexible? Will I be willing to share?

Recently, on an evening when Steve and I were each at our own homes, I was curled up watching a repeat episode of Season Two of Downton Abbey. I got this text from Steve: “Are you watching football like me?”

I wasn’t. In that moment, though, I realized that being with him was worth watching anything he wanted.

“No, I’m watching Downton Abbey. But if I were with you, I would gladly watch football!”

A few seconds later, he texted back: “I would gladly watch Downton Abbey if I could be with you.”

Something inside me melted a little. I remembered my mom, sitting in the family room watching sports and hunting and wild animals on television with her husband.

Finally, It all made sense.


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Image by Darlene. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.