It is my hope that whomever may read this and desire to be married take something I’ve shared and feel encouraged. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve always had a passion for relationships. I’ve dated a lot, and found that most of my 20’s and 30’s were a windy-road pursuit of finding the love I deeply desired. As I got older, I developed the desire to be married, predominantly because everyone around me began to marry, and those who loved me constantly reminded me of how surprised they were that I wasn’t married yet. I found myself feeling a little lost on how exactly to “prepare” for meeting my husband, and especially how to “prepare” to become a wife (this was the message that was being fed into my psyche and into many others around me!). Working as a therapist, life/relationship coach, and counselor for many years, I was able to help others navigate through lessons, seasons, and circumstances in their relationships and marriage….but what about in my own love journey???

What I know for sure is that each man that finds and marries a woman will have his own unique traits and makeup, combined with the woman’s unique traits and makeup. Both individuals will come together in Holy matrimony to create their own combination only exclusive to that couple. No marriage looks exactly like someone else’s, and although there are fundamental principles that every therapist, pastor, and relationship expert can share with the world about how to have a successful marriage…the keys to that success lie solely in the two individuals within it.

Throughout my adulthood being closely involved in the Church, I’ve found that the message of “finding the one” is entirely over-discussed. I’ve found that there was so much talk about finding your spouse and getting married, but not much talk about the actual process and journey of marriage and what it really looks like. It has all been very glamorized and much like Social media tends to be…people show you only what they want you to see and believe. Below I thought it would be good to share 5 points that I WISH folks would have told me. This is the beginning of my new Rhealism segment I’d like to call:Things they don’t tell you when you’re Single & Saved”. Here we go….

1) Marriage is much more than a ring and a kiss …Marriage is a journey, not a destination

* My hope moving forward is to encourage a new narrative as it relates to “marriage & relationship” talk, especially in the Christian community. I don’t believe we have done a good service to those who’ve dreamed and desired to be married in the Christian community. I don’t believe there is enough truth shared regarding how real marriage is, and how the issues that couples face are congruent no matter what your Spiritual beliefs or backgrounds may be. Love is love, dysfunction is dysfunction, issues are issues…and I’m excited to be a part of the movement to bring more transparency and truth to marriage. It’s been such a pleasant experience to see so many others who’ve begun this journey as well.

2) BECOMING ONE is more than a notion

* I wish I knew more about what it really means to “become one.” Standing in front of a large audience, and hearing the pastor say “Two shall become one flesh”…or even reading it in the Bible didn’t really click for me. I just didn’t understand fully what it entailed, and more importantly, how 39 years of independence and single-hood would impact that process. No matter who you marry, you are making a commitment before God and a community of others to merge your thoughts, beliefs, practices, lifestyle, money, environments, Spiritual walk, body, emotions, time, energy, past, hurts, disappointments, joys, strengths, communication styles, insecurities, weaknesses, hopes, dreams, habits….(you tired yet)….ALL with someone else who has their own as well. Building intimacy and oneness simply doesn’t just “happen” because you want it to and say it out loud on your wedding day.

3) Evaluate & Discuss your core values while dating

* One would assume that when you love someone and desire to marry them that your core values align. Though that may be true for many, it is extremely helpful to get in the habit of first internally processing and evaluating within yourself to know exactly WHAT your core values are. Once you begin to date and even before you become vulnerable in relationships, it is important to not be afraid to discuss your core values with those you deem important or intriguing in your love life. Doing so and really paying attention to those who you spend your time with (and what they value) can help you with making key decisions in the future, and can possibly save you some time and heartache down the line. Furthermore, it can also really help to strengthen a bond between two people once they determine that their core values align.

4) We have the ability to create the marriage that we desire…PERIOD.

* I’ve always considered myself to be a marriage advocate. Its not to say that I don’t believe in divorce (because unfortunately I do), but I am of the mindset that two people who are willing to do the work, humble enough to open their hearts and minds to growth, willing to forgive, accept ownership of their part, faith to believe it can work, and committed to their partner can ultimately create the marriage that THEY collectively desire. Only those two people will know what that looks like, and only those two people will be responsible for that outcome.

5) Kill the “This is just me” mindset…GROWING in marriage is perfectly okay! “Healthy things grow, growing things change…” (shot out to Pastor Kelvin Truitt from The Living Room Movement Church).

* This one is very near and dear to my heart because it speaks to the season both my husband and I are in. So often we are told “If there are things about him/her that you hate, it will only get worse in marriage“…or “don’t try to change your spouse” in marriage. These statements are both very true. However, living life as a single person and navigating through relationships the way YOU deemed was best, doesn’t always mean that you’ll get married and that combination of beliefs, mindsets, actions, and practices will be conducive for a healthy marriage. It sometimes will take a willingness for both parties to open their hearts and minds to growth. One of my closest friends taught me that “healthy things grow, and growing things change”… so HOW ON EARTH COULD PEOPLE NOT CHANGE IN MARRIAGE?!?!?!

I will pray for all of those who may need a perspective change with regard to getting married “later than expected.” Your life is valuable and every experience you have can and will be used for your good (and your spouse or life-partner’s good) later when you are married or in that committed relationship that you desire. Good relationships have value not because of a titles we put on them, but because of the values, attitudes, commitment, and character of the people within them. I am SO thankful for God changing my perspective when I felt low about the fact that my time hadn’t yet come to get married, and I feel inspired to share what I am now glad for. I AM…

* Glad that I had the opportunity to date and live my life * Glad that I had the opportunity to explore things that RHEA wanted to do

* Glad that I had the opportunity to travel the world

* Glad that I have had life experiences to build my character

* Glad that I’ve come to find my OWN personal peace so that I don’t place that on my spouse

* Glad that I recognized the importance of my spiritual walk BEFORE getting married…

* Glad that I am open to God molding and shaping me into the wife HE desires for me to be

I desire to have a PURPOSE-filled marriage….and without me having the valuable life experiences, bumps and bruises of being single, and growing in maturity through my Spiritual walk…I don’t think I would have as much to contribute in my marriage as I now do. God’s plans are totally perfect, so even if it’s in His Will for some to marry at a young age, all will still be wonderful if that’s His plan. My purpose in sharing this is specifically for those who may feel down on themselves, or may feel as though they are missing out on the life they want because marriage may not be in the equation yet. Just hold on, keep working on you and enjoying life, and reach out to me if you ever need encouragement for your journey. I am here to share any and all tips of what helped me.

Visit my “videos” section of this website (this video will be up soon) or subscribe to my Rhealism You Tube channel if you want to engage more on this topic…I look forward to hearing from you!