How many times have you heard the expression, “Marriage changes you“?
My first thought when I hear that phrase is, “Of course it does. Why wouldn’t it?”
I read a neat article on the Sturgis Journal over the weekend by marriage columnists James and Audora Burg. The article is called “Change is to be Expected in Marriage” and it’s an interesting perspective on the ways that marriage does change us and why that change is not only to be expected but welcomed.
The Burgs ask,
Are the changes people undergo in marriage a matter of each creating their new identity, or is it more a matter of discovering that self-understanding, and then growing into it?”
So often, especially for women, there’s a concern that when you get married, you lose a piece of yourself, a part of your identity as an individual. Some people (most of them just a tad focused on the “downside’ of marriage) make it sound as though you’re trading yourself in for another model.
The fact is, we do trade something in, but it isn’t our individuality, just our singlehood.
In a happy, vital marriage, two individuals grow together to form an identity as a couple that enhances each person without erasing them.
In other words, we not only retain our individuality, we add to it by the changes our marriage and our partners bring about in us. As the article says,
Marriage itself is an agent of change. Like the long-term effect of water flowing over rock, marriage molds personality; more than that, it shapes partners to uniquely fit together.”
To carry their metaphor a bit further, remember that water is one of the gentlest shapers in nature.
Compare a rock that gets its shape and texture from an eruption or collision with that of a river rock. After years of being gently and consistently changed by the water, a river rock is smooth and wonderfully shaped, and the beauty of its colors is visible.
This is the kind of change that occurs after two people have lived, experienced, loved and influenced each other for a number of years.
That sounds a lot better than “Marriage changes you”, spoken in a deep, forboding voice.