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What to Expect When in Marriage

Before the wedding, we say we don't know exactly what to expect from marriage. We lie. It's not even a year before most utter the words, "If you loved me..." or "If he loved me..." or "Why can't she..." We know what we expect, and it is a disappointment when it's not what we get.

Picture yourself planning a garden tour. You have seen your friends' photos of their garden tours. You love the large, single-color clusters of red, yellow, or pink tulips. The sparsely planted arrangements of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths delight you. And those azaleas! The variety is amazing. The colors are so perfect. You are really looking forward to your garden tour.

You look for tulips. You look for those translucent colors of the azaleas in the gardens they visited. But you have been robbed! In the gardens you visit, there are rust-colored chrysanthemums or orange and purple birds of paradise or spiky, purple hostas with more leaf than flower. This is not what you expected!

If you keep using your checklist of tulips and azaleas from observing your friends' garden trips through snapshots, your trip will be a huge disappointment. If you let go of this list of expectations and open your eyes, you will discover a wealth of nature's beauty. You can be disappointed, or you can crumple up your list of expectations, look for whatever delights your senses, and be in awe.

Your marriage is your garden trip. If you spend it looking for what you've seen in snapshots of your parents' or friends' marriages, you cheat yourself out of an incredible experience. Love comes in as many colors, shapes, fragrances, and seasons as flowers do. Live your marriage on the edge of your seat, always watching for the next, unexpected bit of love your spouse offers you, always savoring each one.


I look forward to taking on this challenge someday! For now, I'm trying to adopt the same attitude on dates. When I can carry it off, it has great results. For one thing, I'm much more likely to form a long-lasting friendship with a guy I meet on a blind date, because I've focused on finding his good qualities. I used to worry about "wasting" time with a guy who wasn't right for me, but now I relax and figure that I'll figure it out soon enough if we're not a match, and in the meantime I can have more fun.

Roodle, I'm so glad to hear this. Expect Love right from the start. Watch for how many different ways a man shows you love, instead of whether he misses one on your checklist. If you're getting lots of love from a man of good character, he's a keeper.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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