playing married + why i think it's a bad idea

I'm pretty sure we all know exactly what I'm talking about. Either you're currently playing married, you've played married, you are actively fighting against playing married, or you have a friend who has played married and you've watched it go down. We've all either seen or been the couple who spends all their time together (asleep and awake), fights like they think married people are fighting, make extensively futuristic plans together, basically lives at each others' place, and are mostly likely getting as close to playing married in bed as they can without losing their V-card. Are we all on the same page? Great.

I've played married before. I played married for about two and a half years, in fact. I was the roommate who was never home, and the extra roommate a house of guys really didn't want. For all intents and purposes, he was my mental husband. I already had him nice and neatly placed in the spot reserved for whoever that will be one day in my mind. You see, that's the first thing that happens. You somehow get married in your head. Next thing you know wake up and realize you've been pretending to be a wife without a ring on your finger or a promise made. You make him your mental husband. He ceases being your boyfriend and someone who is not a guarantee, but maybe wants to be your husband one day, and he begins taking on a role that he was never intended to. And that stresses both of you out. There's way too much unnecessary pressure on the relationship.  So one day you realize you're bickering like two people who can't stand each other (partially because you kind of can't), and you don't know why. I'll tell you why. It's because you've opened a door that you weren't supposed to open yet.

We've forgotten how to date. We've forgotten how to hold any kind of emotional boundaries, and have chosen to only consider "boundaries" in a relationship things of a sexual nature. We've allowed it to become a free-for-all. And while it's no one's fault but our own, who can blame us? We just don't know any better. It's human nature to follow the leader, and we're following the lead of our favorite married couples, because that's the rational thing to do. We forget we're not married. We start sleeping over innocently enough, because it's convenient and I'm-sick-of-driving-home-at-12-oclock. We start sharing every part of us, every past-hurt and hope and dream and scar, because no one's ever told us about emotional boundaries. We start blowing off our friendships and isolating ourselves, because he's so much fun to hang out with. We start opening ourselves up physically, because it's just what comes next and we have no self-control. And before you know it, you're playing married with the pros.

And then you break up. And the healing process is about 1,000 times harder because you're playing divorced now. And he was everything to you. Everything. And nothing's really keeping him here because you weren't married. So he's free to go, no real repercussions. I've walked through this, the deepest parts of this. And the healing process was hard. We shouldn't have been that far in. Even though we'd both long since checked out of the relationship and it could have been much worse, it should've been easier. If I had fought against the desire to play married.

Because it's a fight. It's a fight to watch J leave every night and not beg him to stay over. It's a fight to not give him every little piece of me because I love him and trust him so indefinitely. Sometimes it's a fight to not hole up with him and never spend any time with anyone else because he's my favorite and I don't feel like I get enough time with him.  And yes, it's a fight to keep it in our pants. But that's what you do for love. You put your self and your desires aside, and you fight. Because in the end, choosing to not play married is one of the least selfish things you can do for each other. The reality is, until you say I do, that person you're dating isn't yours. They could very well be intended for someone else, no matter how strongly and surely you feel that they're the one for you. You could break up. Crazier things have happened. J and I could break up tomorrow. So date with that in mind, with the intention of preserving yourself and the one you're with for the person they're meant for. Because it could be you. And how awesome will that be, if you are? That you've saved yourselves for each other, and not just physically. You've saved those deep, untouched parts of your heart for each other and have the rest of your life to discover them. One of the most dangerous parts of playing married is how dang fun it is. Which gives me a little hope, because I like to think being married is pretty fun too [I refuse to buy into the "marriage is all work and no play" dialogue]. And fun things are dangerous. So this really is something you have to daily choose to fight against. But in the end, it's worth it. I only want to be married once, whether it's in my head or not.



MichelleMarie said...

I've played married and I'm dealing with the consequences still 10 years after the final breakup. Jesus rescued me, praise Him. Healing is such a process. Girls reading this that are in the situation - STOP, learn from others, don't learn from your own experience.

Thanks for sharing your life, Blake. Praise the Lord for the truths you've learned from your suffering.

Love you!

Elizabeth said...

I think that many women have this urge to be a perfect caregiver. And maybe if we fulfill that role early we will get what we want sooner from our boyfriends.

I agree that every relationship is different, but the root issue is that when we force things into existence, we're acting outside of God's will for our lives. If we're working towards holiness, the details and timing falls into place.

brandichutney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
brandichutney said...

I think this idea of "playing married" is a great point. It's so easy to give all of you away to someone too quickly, and I'm speaking solely emotionally here. People get too attached and become too free too soon.

But, there is a point in the relationship that comes before marriage where a serious commitment level has to be established. I find it hard to say that my partner isn't truly mine at this point. I find it hard to say that I have to keep in mind that I'm not really his. I feel like preserving all of my self (don’t think physical) for someone I haven't met is a little bit of “pie in the sky” thinking. If I don’t attempt to put my best into a relationship, how will I ever know if this is who God has saved me for or not? At some point, walls have to come down. If there isn't a pure commitment to one another, how can you trust the relationship?

I think it's important to remember Blake’s points early on. There are times where you can say, "Hey, this guy isn't my fiancĂ©. I don't need to deal with this." But there comes a time where you hit something that isn't picture perfect that you do have to face head on, even though he hasn't put a ring on it.

Again, kudos to speaking out on your passions and what you believe. Wish more did this.

Blake said...

@brandichutney Girl. So good. Love your perspective on this. Re-reading it I don't think I got across that I was talking about the beginnings of a relationship quite the way I meant to. I think you make some super valid points, but at the same time I do think that there are certain walls that are meant to be kept up until you're married. That's just me, personally.

Elizabeth said...

And one more note-- when you're [actually] married, you (hopefully) have a really, REALLY long time to be married! Take your time. Don't rush into it. Enjoy the dating phase for what it is. From what I've seen, being married is really hard and requires abounding amounts of unselfishness. Be a little selfish, and don't prematurely end the courtship.

I've been dating my amazing boyfriend (I have now officially graduated him to my "manfriend") for nearly six years. I can't even tell you how many people say, "Where's your ring?" "Aren't you getting tired of this?" "Why aren't you married yet?"

And really and truthfully, I'm not tired of it! I only have a little bit longer to be dating and I like dating him! And I'm not ready to be married yet because it's not the right time! (He's in pharmacy school, so he got a 4 year extension :))

Enjoy your youth, and everything that comes with it, ladies and gents. I know I am.

Anonymous said...

I briefly played married for six months to someone who I had convinced myself was The One. Looking back, it's obvious that I was too young to be involved with someone who was 22 (I was 19). It's also apparent now that I was trying so hard to fit into his life, to be the perfect future wife/current girlfriend. I lost myself in that relationship, and even now at 21 and happily married (for real), I gave a piece of myself to my ex that my husband will never have. It's a sad fact that sometimes we unknowingly create hurdles that never had to exist. Sure God uses them to his glory, but there's pain that takes a while to fade. Thank God for ladies older & growing wiser, like you Blake, to reality check us.

Anonymous said...

Perfect timing for me to read this. A few times now, my boyfriend and I have played the "we fell asleep and woke up and now it's 4am and i'm too tired to walk you back to your dorm" card, so I've walked back myself. He's offered for me to just keep sleeping, but I felt weird about it. So I'd do the the whole "walk of shame" thing, except without the sex part, so I walked back feeling all shady even though it wasn't as shady as it looked.

But then this morning, we woke up at 7, and I decided to take him up on his offer to just keep sleeping. So we woke up at 10 and got to cuddle and joke around, but I ended up just feeling scared about it. And now I know why. Even though we aren't having sex, I'm crossing boundaries that are typically marriage ones, at least in my mind. And even though we're making plans about our futures and marriage, we're not officially engaged yet, so it's just kinda risky business.