“Settling down” is one of the most cliché phrases associated with marriage. After I proposed to my wife Emily, the amount of times I heard this uttered to me almost outnumbered the frequency with which I was congratulated.
I quickly became annoyed, because “settling down” carries the connotation that life is boring once you’re married, that the excitement in your life is gone.
As someone who prides himself on making life an adventure, I knew that I would have to distance myself as much as possible from this cliché in order to have the happy marriage that I desired.
Sure, some things I had done in the past — like working in the oil fields and solo backpacking throughout New Zealand for 10 months — were no longer an option. Emily would also likely have a heart attack if I jumped out of a plane by myself again, so I realized that might also be something I would have to give up, as well.
But, she was onboard with a lot, especially when it came to prioritizing experiences over things.
Within the first six months of our engagement, we went to several concerts, nine major sporting events, drove more than 10 hours to North Carolina, Baltimore, Tennessee, Wyoming, and flew to California. I should also mention that we are far from rich, but we realized if we planned well and prioritized properly, making our lives an adventure was definitely achievable.
Leading up to our marriage, we had to focus on our careers and, of course, preparing for the wedding. The grind that ensued made me wonder, “is this what they meant by ‘settling down’?”
So we made a pact — as soon as the wedding was finished we’d sit down and plan out more fun experiences, which is exactly what we did.
By the third day of our marriage, we had every weekend from July 3 through Thanksgiving booked with something we were excited about doing. Our summer and fall included several college football games, baseball games in Chicago, Detroit, and Minneapolis, horse races, a sushi-filled birthday weekend, a trip through Quebec, and much more. Even the few weekends we stayed at home doing nothing were times to look forward to because we had so many things planned.
It’s also important to remember adventures can be big or small. They don’t have to be some crazy adrenaline kick. Even a trip to a different city can be exciting if you’re willing to make the most of it. Plan ahead. Scout out what unique, quirky things the town has to offer and explore when you arrive!
Let’s not forget that we also get to do all these things during one of the greatest experiences in life: marriage. There’s nothing scarier than letting someone see you for who you truly are, day after day, and trusting that they will still love you and be there beside you.
For all the fun things we’ve done and the trips we hope to go on, there’s been nothing more intimidating and exciting than getting married. I truly mean that. When you’re committing to someone forever, you’re stating that you’ll be there even if they bring home that random dog from the pound or pick up playing the drums as their new hobby.
It’s really up to you on whether or not marriage means “settling down.” You can plan adventures or embrace the mundane. Either way, it’s great knowing that other person will always be there. Mutual respect, care, and admiration for each other is what makes marriage exciting.
As Pope Francis notes, “It’s not just about having a marriage that lasts. The quality of the marriage is also important.” Words we plan to live by!