The wedding gift I wish I didn’t have to give

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One of my friends recently got married and shared some of the rawest and realist words I’ve heard in a long time. Most people won’t have the courage to admit these things. We like to pretend our lives are fine. We like to pretend the choices we make don’t really have an impact on others. Oh how we wish our past was only our past. But it’s not. And the choices you are making today will have an effect on those around you, including your future spouse. Here’s Ashley’s story:

My whole dating life had been long-term relationships that lead me to my marriage. My first was when I was 14, the boy was 18, and we dated for one year. Then he went to college and I haven’t spoke to him since. I remember thanking God that I didn’t give him my virginity because that relationship sent me into my next very bitter. When I was maybe 16, I was neck deep in a relationship with a boy a year older than me. I had a group of friends that encouraged sexual deviance, encouraged experimentation, encouraged partying and after a while I gave into that temptation. I tried things I’ve to this day never admitted to because I remember thanking God that I was alive because I’ve seen people die from less. And after we lost our virginities to each other I felt so emotionally naked that we broke up two weeks later. That’s the first time I sat dissecting every inch of me wondering what was wrong with me.

It wasn’t long until I started dating the nearest male who called me pretty because I didn’t believe it at that point. I remember thanking God for Kody. Kody was 24 and I was 17. I vividly remember thanking God for a man, a man that treated me so well. I grew so scary dependent on him. He was my everything. I stopped partying. I stopped cheerleading. I stopped playing tennis. I stopped student government. I stopped anything that took time away from time I spent with him. Kody died a week shy of our one year anniversary. I don’t remember much except praying at his funeral, praying that “God please be real, please have him” because it was the first time I was scared of where my choices would lead me. I moved out of the state because my dad was terrified I was going to kill myself. I didn’t walk at my graduation because I didn’t leave my bedroom for a month. I didn’t take my final exams, I only passed because my school board felt bad.

When I moved to Florida, I met this boy who acted so innocent and sweet that I fell in “love” with him three minutes into conversation. Three years later I have a restraining order and ongoing court appearances that was left behind during that mentally and physically abusive on & off again relationship that was mostly secretive anyway. I used to pray to God everyday that he would stop. And the worst part is I had been saved in that time. In that time I was lying to my church, my accountability partners, my friends, my family… Everyone. I was lying to myself. I still lied even after we broke up and told people he was great and we just didn’t work out. I was so shamed. I am still shamed but I am no longer afraid of persecution from people who know the truth. Now that you know my past, I hope when I advise you guys to take matters of the heart seriously, you will. Because these soul ties I created, these men have pieces of me I can’t erase, and I can’t have them back. These are men in which my HUSBAND has to share me with spiritually. There are damaged parts of my heart that my husband is dealing with, damage he didn’t create. I can’t express how important it is to guard your heart.

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Dating means letting go, marriage means holding on

I think we have it backwards. Too many people stay in relationships they should have left long ago while others exit when they should have stayed. Maybe it’s just me but I often see these people in dating relationships that just seem miserable. And the excuse is always the same, “Yea, but I love him/her.” Really? What is it you love so much? Okay okay, I don’t want to come across negative but what I really want to tell these people is that they aren’t married and it won’t get better. I think we often think it will. We hope it will at least. And it does in some ways. But I think we forgot the whole concept of dating.

Dating means letting go

Many people who are just dating say they are basically married. What?! If they don’t say it, it’s often implied. It’s fun to think about. We date because we want to be married, well really because we want to be loved. And marriage signifies that. But the whole point of dating is to get to know someone to see if you want to be married to them. You can’t possibly know if you want to marry them until you get to know them. So it’s okay if you end up breaking up- you aren’t married! That is what happens. Yes, we often feel we can’t. We don’t want to quit. We don’t want to fail. We want to work through it. We want to be loyal. All great qualities but it’s simply tragic when it’s wasted on the wrong one because you didn’t think you could break up for whatever reason. It is hard to do but it’s life and it happens. Contrary to what your heart wants to do, you need to balance being “happy go lucky” with objectiveness to see if this is actually the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. No one can be mad at you for breaking up when you are only dating. Well, unless you were a jerk about it;)

Marriage means holding on

So what leads me to believe these people are running into marriages instead of breaking things off? The numerous divorces I see happening in couples just a few years in. That’s what. What happened? What went wrong? We exit marriages quicker than we exit work when the clock hits 5 o’clock. I think a big problem is the fact that people want to get married but they aren’t ready for marriage. At least not with the person they picked. Numerous reasons I am sure. But just like dating is the opportunity to decide whether or not you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, marriage signifies that commitment to actually spend the rest of your life with said person. Commitment. Fighting. Loving. Choosing the other person first. Constantly. So if you’re not ready, don’t get married. If you don’t know the person well enough to know, don’t do it. Marriage is losing its value in our society, but don’t let it lose its meaning in your life.

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photo credit: Amber Dancing via photopin (license)