If you never leave home,
Never let go,
You’ll never make it to the great unknown.
– Keep Your Eyes Open, Needtobreathe
The Great Unknown. Almost everyone would say they want to go there, but almost no one would say they’ve ever been. When I think of the Great Unknown, I usually think of adventure movies. My husband and I are in the middle of a Star Wars marathon right now and I’ve realized that most of us like watching movie characters go through the great unknown. We like the adventure, newness, drama, excitement and action. We like it because while we’re watching our heroes trapped in a trash compactor, in an epic light saber duel, or being frozen in carbonate, we know what the ending is and that everything will be alright. The downside of actually going through the great unknown, however, is that it’s just that — unknown. We don’t know what will happen between now and the ending. The great unknown is both exciting and terrifying.
Every time I’ve ever talked to a newlywed about how they were doing I’ve always gotten a ridiculously huge smile and some derivative of, “So great! It’s perfect! I could die of happiness!” So, I guess I kind of felt guilty when I came back from my honeymoon three months ago and people asked, “how’s married life treating you?” and I didn’t feel like saying, “It’s so perfect!” I sometimes wanted to say, “I am terrified. I feel like this person I married is literally from another planet.” I sometimes wanted to say, “The Spiritual warfare in our house is pretty intense right now.” I felt bad for letting down the veteran newlyweds who had gone before me.
But then again, maybe they were lying, too, sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being married more than anything, but sometimes I miss being a kid, being selfish and only looking out for number one. It would have been easier for me to stay single, not because the singles’ life is easier, but because I was used to it. I was used to getting to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. Used to living the way I was used to living. Used to putting moldy bread in the trash can and knowing that I wouldn’t find it in the pantry again (not that this has ever happened …). I was used to my own little world with my own little friends, my own little hobbies, and my own particular way of keeping the house. Now, regardless of my mood, my other half can decide to be in a bad mood without my permission. Now, I am constantly being challenged by someone else to be a better person even when I feel like I’m good enough as is. Now, God is teaching me lessons on unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness even when I don’t want to learn. Now my life, my happiness, my desires, my dreams and plans are wrapped up in another person, and that is a new, scary and exhilarating feeling.
Aaron and I have both left our own little worlds, and now, I kind of visualize my life as if we are walking hand in hand through some really dark and unfamiliar place. We know the way we’re going, but we have no idea what’s going on around us. Sometimes we hear strange noises and see frightening outlines. Sometimes one of us trips and we have to slow down. Sometimes it’s a warm and peaceful place and we swear we hear music in the background and we just talk and laugh and keep walking. Then, for just a brief moment, the sun will rise just enough for us to see that we’re walking straight through the Grand Canyon and we’re just a small part of a wonderful masterpiece.
I don’t know how much this will change as the years go by. Maybe our eyes will adjust to the darkness. Maybe the sun will keep rising and we’ll become well-acquainted with our scenery. Maybe we’ll keep going like we are now, or maybe it will be a combination of all these. However it goes, we’re enjoying the adventure together, and, so far, I wouldn’t trade anything for the adventure we’ve had. We both know though that with adventure come scary encounters, frustrating setbacks, and times when you don’t think you’ll make it out alive.
This is the time where I want to share my advice, where I want to say, so if you’re feeling this way, make sure you … whatever … but I can’t give any of that advice right now. I can’t say what you should plan for or expect because it is, after all, the great unknown. No one truly knows what to expect. I can’t even say from personal experience that it will be worth it in the end, because I’m nowhere near the end. All I can say is that if you feel like married life is way different from you expected, there’s at least one other person in the world who feels that way. If you feel like your husband is from a different planet, maybe he and my husband are kinsfolk. Personally, I think a lot of us out there are like that. So if I ask you sometime how married life is and you don’t feel like saying that it’s perfect, just say, “It’s an adventure.” And I’ll know what you mean.