5 Less Obvious Benefits of Marriage

by Erica Layne on June 13, 2012

Most of the time, I am lost in the bustle of raising a family, tending to a needy house, catching the latest episode of Smash, writing a blog, serving in my church . . .  I’m sure this list is familiar to you!

Then I fall asleep one night wondering why I don’t feel fulfilled.

For me, fulfillment comes when I’m looking for it. When I slow down. Simplify my life. Breathe. Pray. Think. Preparing this post helped me see how much I benefit from my marriage, and my hope is that reading this post will help you, too, find fulfillment in yours. And if  you’re not married, here is a glimpse into a few of less talked-about benefits you can look forward to!

1. The way you think and see the world will be challenged.

I’ll be the first to admit that this doesn’t always feel like a “benefit.” The day Ryan and I met, I was a pretty conventional thinker. I was raised with a healthy dose of manners and propriety. I kept rules because they were rules, rarely questioning authority—no matter how minor the “authority” was. (I used to read posted park rules before entering any park!) For as much as our upbringings were similar, Ryan was (in my mind) an unconventional thinker. He evaluated the reasons behind everything and only cared about rules or conventions if he agreed with the reasoning behind them. Where I would see a couple of sides to an issue, he would see a dozen. Where I would go along with things, he would stir the pot.

I think it goes without saying that this was challenging for us. The adjustment involved plenty of family dinners or conversations with friends where I would wonder why he couldn’t just go with the grain for once! But a handful of years later, I can honestly say that I like seeing the world in more shades than I did the day we met. I evaluate issues and situations from more angles, and on occasion, I even find myself stirring the pot for no good reason at all!

What I can’t say is exactly how your partner’s world view will rub off on you. All I can do is offer my story as an example and and assure you that—even if it’s uncomfortable—change is good.

2. Tastes, preferences, and sense of humor assimilate over time.

And thank goodness they do!

After a few years, you might find that the same entrées on a restaurant menu stand out to both of you. You music tastes may overlap more. Maybe you’ll share an increased interest in politics and religion, giving you more to talk about. I can almost guarantee you’ll laugh at more of the same things. (Don’t even get Ryan and I started narrating our kids’ actions before they can talk! We are hilarious!) Heck, I even cycle the air conditioning in the car now! Noticing the ways you have assimilated with your spouse can help smooth over some of the differences every couple has.

3. You learn who you can control (i.e. yourself). 

From small, non-threatening offenses like leaving wet towels on the floor to heavier marital issues, we learn fast that we can’t bend anyone else’s will to our own. When you finally give up on “correcting” this particular habit or “solving” that particular character flaw, all you can do is look inward. We grow as we confront our own habits and flaws, and we grow as learn to forgive and become slower to cast blame.

4. Someone will know you almost better than you know yourself.

Let’s say your husband knows you’ll want to bring a well-stocked purse on a family outing to ride the train. Then when the two of you are lugging two kids, a double stroller, a few jackets, AND a diaper bag up the stairs from the underground train, he knows you’ll wish you hadn’t brought that darn oversized purse. So he warns you before you even leave the house—and if you’re wise (and not proud, like me), you’ll take his advice and have one less thing weighing you down.

I also find that, from time to time, Ryan has a better sense of how I’ll handle a situation than I even do. (Certainly not all the time, but it does happen!) Sometimes he sees me more clearly than I see myself, and his perspective is often spot on when I need to make a decision.

5. Your dreams will multiply. 

I saved the best for last. Merging your life with another means getting double the dreams. Then those dreams grow and change over the years as you and your spouse flesh out the vision you have for your family. Sure, it takes some negotiation to figure out how to pursue your individual dreams as a couple, but encouraging each other to chase them and gradually seeing a few fulfilled is incredible.

If there is one thing I have learned in my six and a half years of marriage to my opposite, it is that this relationship is shaping me. It’s not always a walk in the park, but I treasure the good and trust that Someone with a perspective much broader than mine can see where this is going.

I hope you’re enjoying the journey too!

Which one of these benefits stood out to you the most? You know I love to hear!

Feel free to hop back to see my 5 Things that Make Marriage Hard (But Worth It).  

Linked up with The Better Mom, We Are That Family, Wifey Wednesdays , Grace at HomeThe Alabaster Jar, and Wifessionals’ Preparing for a Little One.  

 

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Malerie June 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

These are great. Number 4 in particular stood out to me. I didn’t realize many of my flaws until I was married…in a good way. :) I think it’s incredible to have a significant other to help you be the best you can be. I don’t always respond with the right attitude to my husband’s suggestion/correction/insight when he points out something I don’t want to hear, but know is probably true! Every time I have responded humbly, it brings us together as I feel like we’re here for each other, watching out for each other (and it avoids a long, drawn out “discussion”). It reminds me too, that usually he is sincere in his comments and that he really loves me. Now if I could just remember to be less prideful in those moments… :)

Erica {let why lead} June 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Thanks, Mal! It really is amazing having someone know you so well—at least when I’m open to hearing about it! Gotta love those long “discussions”!

Liz June 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Erica, you’re amazing. I love #4. And I’m amazed with how wonderfully you describe your marriage. We know its not perfect but you don’t degrade it one bit when stating your experiences. You’re amazing. I read park rules too but more to get a laugh then to really follow them–I have been golfing in our neighborhood park and my bro and I planted our old Christmas tree there once…

Erica {let why lead} June 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Thank you so much, Liz! I am so glad to hear you say that, because it is a delicate thing to write about! I get nervous after I hit publish, because I want to be real but also positive. So thank you!

That is HILARIOUS about planting a Christmas tree at the park. Is it still there? Ryan would be all over that! haha

Alana @ Domestic Bliss Diaries June 13, 2012 at 3:59 pm

This was a great post! For the record, I loved reading about your personal experiences. As for which one resonated with me, I’d have to say #1. I grew up in a Christian home {read: religious}. We went to several churches over the years that leaned a bit on the legalistic side. My husband has taught me that it’s not about a list of rules {Jesus himself broke many!}. It’s about a relationship; obeying out of love and not “duty”. My husband has helped to completely change my worldview to align more with God’s word.

I also liked #3, too. This is something I’m working on! For example, my hubby almost NEVER puts used cups in the sink. He leaves them on the counter… a mere three feet away! As you can imagine, this has caused a LOT of frustration in the past. Now, everything he leaves something out, I say a little prayer for him. Let’s just say my prayer life has DRAMATICALLY improved! LOL
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Jennie June 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm

This is great! I love your marriage posts!

When my mom got remarried, I remember getting frustrated with my step-dad for talking about how he was going to change her. I got mad and shouted that she didn’t need to change. The next year, I got married, and then I understood what he meant: not that he was going to change her by force of will, but that simply by being together, they would change and grow more alike.

This has definitely been true for my marriage. People that knew me before can sometimes hardly recognize me. I’m quieter, my humor has changed, and I’m much less confrontational. The same change is true for my husband; he’s more outspoken, friendly, and less arrogant. It’s really nice to see how our good aspects rub off on each other, and our bad ones are kept in check by each other.
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Erica {let why lead} June 13, 2012 at 9:04 pm

That’s so interesting, Jennie! I love that you can see such a big change in yourself. I’m going to have to think about what traits have rubbed off on Ryan and me. Thanks!

Angelica June 13, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Great post, Erica! Post-posting anxiety totally unwarranted. And reflections based on personal experiences is where it’s at.

I really do hope some of J’s great qualities have rubbed off on me!
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Brenda @Triple Braided June 13, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Erica, this is such a great post! I think for me, right now, I’m learning that I can only control myself. I don’t consider myself a really controlling person, but I do find myself wanting to just tweak a few things in my husbands. As a wise person told me, “Bless to Success”, that’s the only way to get him to change, and that starts with changing me first.

Thank you so much for this today, and I have to check out your crock-pot recipes because John was just saying he wanted some!
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courtney June 13, 2012 at 11:00 pm

First, that is a great picture of you and ryan! Second, #4 really stuck out to me. I don’t know that I’ve thought about this quite so consciously, but it’s so true. And I like that you mentioned your pride– when Sam points out things he knows about me, or how a situation is going to play out (even something simple like what you mentioned), I feel totally stubborn about it. But I also think it helps in disagreements because we know each other so well, it becomes easier to understand one another’s viewpoints and to give them the benefit of the doubt. (easier, not necessarily easy :)

Erica {let why lead} June 14, 2012 at 4:57 am

“Easier, not necessarily easy”! SO well said!

As always, thanks so much for commenting, Courtney!

PS. that pic was one of our engagements. We look a bit older now. It’s kinda embarrassing using my own photo as the graphic, but who else’s am I gonna use? haha. either way, thanks!

Megan E June 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Learning that I can only control myself was one of the hardest yet most freeing things I have ever learned. This is a great list!
I use a lot of our own experiences in my posts as well, because that’s all I have to offer :) I wouldn’t want to come off sounding like I pretend to know it all without experiencing any of it, you know?
I’m glad you found me, because I’m glad I found you back :)

Megan @ wwwsunshinethroughthewindows.blogspot.com
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Erica {let why lead} June 14, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Me too, Megan!

I feel exactly the same way about personal experience. I only feel comfortable talking about what I really know. Thanks for hopping over!

Richella @ Imparting Grace June 15, 2012 at 3:20 am

Yes, ma’am, marriage is exactly how you describe–hard, but worth it. And you’re right–it’s rewarding in ways you never imagine before you say “I do”!

Our 27th anniversary is next Friday–and we are still learning. But we ARE learning! I’m so grateful!
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Michy lovingourjourney June 15, 2012 at 10:52 am

Beautiful…new visitor here. You are so right about marriage not being about controlling your spouse…definetly about learning more self-control in those “little things”. I love you last point…that dreams multiply…and oh they do… they expand beyond what I’d had ever dreamt about before and do assimilate…:) This is a nice fresh perspective!
Blessings
Michy
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Desirae June 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm

LOVE this post Erica! These 5 ideas are perfect and Oh so true! I think that the one I liked the most is that your tastes, preferences, and sense of humor assimilate over time. I completely agree with this. It is funny to see how much I have changed to be more like Dan in our 7 years of dating/marriage. And it is probably even more funny to see how he has changed to be more like ME! I’m excited to see how much we will grow and change together through the rest of our lives.

Emily February 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm

I could relate so well to every single one of these! The first one, my husband and I are the opposites of you two, I’m the outside the box thinker and “but why?” asker, and Brian is the more black and white thinker. We do challenge each other with our different perspectives. I’ve noticed we’ve started ordering the same things off menus and enjoying the same music, and oh man, #3! Yes! #4 and #5 are really wonderful benefits of marriage :)
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Erica {let why lead} February 13, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Thanks, Emily! I gotta say, I wish I were the the outside-the-box thinker in this marriage. I’m glad his ways are at least rubbing off on me (even if it hasn’t always been easy)! Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

Claudz June 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm

This is such a great list. I love that it’s so personal and honest. I could relate and was nodding my head with every point
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Laynah Rose June 19, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Number three is perfect! You are so right about that…and it goes right along with the quote you have there.
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