My Hypocritical & Totally Unsolicited Marriage Advice to my Single Friends

For a little less than a week now, I have been a married woman. I met the love of my life and married him in front of all of our family and friends. To be honest, I still haven’t truly come down from all of the events: bridal shower, bachelorette party, wedding, and reception. As a matter of fact, I’m writing this piece on our honeymoon, while my husband sleeps; it’s really been a wild ride. Between all of the pictures, presents, and posts on social media, one could get a little caught up and forget about reality. What do I mean by being caught up? Please allow me to explain. I’ve found that a lot of people turn into relationship experts on being single once they become married. The woman who has only been married for five seconds suddenly has the key to being “single and satisfied” (ugh I hate that phrase), and is full of unsolicited advice for all of her single girlfriends on how to land a great husband. Well, at the risk of being hypocritical, I’m going to attempt the same feat and offer every single person my unsolicited advice on marriage, and here it is. WAIT.

Yep, two days into my honeymoon, fresh off my wedding week, I am giving that type of advice, and here’s why. When people first meet someone, the representatives are in full effect and few people are being their true selves. In short, you’re not meeting the real person; you’re meeting who that person wants to present to the public. This isn’t new information. If you’ve been dating for any period of time, then you’ve figured this out already.

Having a “representative” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People do it all the time, even outside of the dating scene. For example, if you’re on the phone with your girls (or boys) talking about your plans for your getaway to New Orleans, then the conversation would be very relaxed and informal. If, however, your boss (or a prospective employer) called on the other line and you clicked over to take the call, the conversation, even your tone of voice, would change to a more formal and professional manner. We’ve all seen mothers do this while fussing at one of the kids, only to change to a calm tone while answering a business call. It’s called code switching, and it’s perfectly normal.

The only problem with code switching as it relates to dating is that often, we fall in love with the representative and not the real person. We start buying the cover or the “code” and are completely blindsided once the real person is revealed. We start hollering, “Oh you’ve changed,” when the truth is that they just couldn’t keep up the facade any longer.

And don’t get me wrong; I’m not dogging people and discouraging relationships. (Hello, I just got married!) What I’m saying is that everyone should wait before committing their emotions to a person and a relationship. Why? Because in the words of my daddy, Apostle MJ Carter, “You gotta give crazy a chance to show up.” Everyone. And I repeat EVERYONE has a bit of crazy. Everyone has some things that aren’t all the way straight. Everyone has a bit of game, and everyone (to a certain extent) is selfish.

The thing is that most people aren’t gonna show that up front. They’re gonna give you the lovable representative that’s easy to fall for, so that you end up committing all of your time and energy to the relationship. Then, 3-9 months later, after you’ve put in a serious investment of your time, emotions, money, and so much more, then they’ll hit you with the real. Something will happen that will literally knock the wind out of you (and not in a good way). But because you will have invested so much into this relationship, it’ll be hard to walk away. Additionally, you may even believe that this behavior is just a fluke, just a one time occurrence because, after all, you’ve never seen this type of behavior from this person, so it must just be a fluke. But you’re wrong. It’s not a fluke. It’s the beginning signs of the representative exiting the building. Like my dad said, “You gotta give crazy a chance to show up.”

What does this quote mean? It means people aren’t gonna come straight out with the crazy, and everybody has it. Instead, they’ll put on their best manners, and be on their best behavior. The good part of this is that people aren’t able to keep up this facade forever. Eventually glimmers of the true person will show up before the full on truth comes out. This is why waiting is so important. You have to wait long enough to see what type of crazy that you’re getting (because believe me that EVERYBODY has it). After you’ve seen exactly what you’re getting, then you can make an informed decision.

The problem with most people is that they make the decision to commit to a person and fall in love BEFORE the crazy is revealed. Then once the final shoe drops, they’re too invested in the relationship to walk away even if the crazy is something that they hate. That’s why waiting is important.

I don’t say this as some recently married woman who has now become the oracle on dating and single life. I say this as a serial monogamist who frequently committed way too early in relationships, only to find myself romantically attached to a monster. If I were to chronicle the drama and the war wounds that I’ve collected because of my behaviors, it would be a best seller. (In fact, one day I might lol!) The truth is that I am writing this out of a moment of self-reflection. People tried to give me this same advice earlier in life, and I didn’t listen. Because of it, I had to endure much more than I should have.

Now, in my moment of reflection in my time of peace and happiness, I am looking back on my past and hoping someone will be smarter than I was and heed my advice. Wait. If you need any further proof, remember this. No one ever complains about taking too long to marry someone; the opposite can’t be said.

Much Love,

Jenene

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