I never want to undermine the validity of being a teenager and being in love. Teen love and love problems can be very real and we as adults need to recognize that and validate our teens in that area. But as real as teen love can be, there is still quite a world of difference between being in a relationship as a teenager and being in a relationship as a married adult. For instance:
Teen love: Ever noticed that teens are attached at the hip with invisible velcro? The syndicated Zits cartoon comes to mind, when Jeremiah finally gets Sara to date him and strip after strip showed them lip locked and wrapped up in each other.
Married love: Reaching across the car seat to lay our hand on our spouse’s leg takes more effort then we can find within our exhausted body. When we sit down to watch television at night, we want to be stretch out full on the couch with the only bodily contact being a possible foot massage, because after a hectic day we have no desire to be touched in any way, shape, or form!
Teen love: Sex is all you think about – “I want it, I need it, I can’t wait to have it!” You wonder how far you can test the boundaries without going all the way and serious discussions take place with your friends as you wonder these things aloud.
Married love: Sex is all we think about — “I hope he doesn’t want it tonight. I have no energy. I have a headache. Please, can we put this off to some other day?” or, “I hope she doesn’t have a headache tonight…” The only boundaries you’re crossing is to kick each other because he’s snoring or she’s hogging the covers. Conversations with girlfriends have passed beyond the mystery of what sex is like to the mystery of how he can want it after a huge fight, and men bemoan to each other how it is that women never want sex.
Teen Love: You never, ever need a reason to kiss or make out and you are able to do so when you’re sad, exhausted, hungry, angry, and/or crying.
Married Love: The stars need to be lined up, the to-do list finished, and no emotional upheavals in the last 24 hours or there is not going to be a makeout session, much less any kissing going on!
Teen love: Every waking minute must be spent with each other – the phone call as soon as you wake up, the phone call as you’re waiting for the bus, time together in between every class at school, and then back to the phone and instant messenger until bedtime. To not be together is the crisis of the year and not talking at least once a day means your life is over.
Married Love: The wife would give anything to have alone time in a bathtub or shopping at the mall and the man is anxious for some football time with “just the guys, no women allowed.”
Teen love: Your boyfriend/girlfriend has no faults. They are “just perfect” and can do no wrong. His clothes are perfect, and she is just so darn cute when she rambles on the way she does.
Married love: The husband can do no right. He doesn’t dress the way his wife thinks he should, and his words only give the woman a launching platform for arguing and telling him why he’s so wrong and she’s so right. That cute rambling she used to do in the teen years, is now an incessant chatter that has absolutely no purpose to it — other than, perhaps, to drive him nuts.
Teen love: Belching and farting is hilarious when it’s coming from your man. He’s so manly after all! And a girl that can belch is “awesome!”
Married love: The wife constantly feels the need to remind her husband that it’s not polite to burp in public because, after all, what will people think? And he wonders why she refuses to have fun and enter belching contests now?
Teen love: Conversations never end. They start first thing in the morning, last all day long, and end when both fall asleep with the phone in hand, late at night.
Married love: Conversations consist of reminders to accomplish certain tasks and heated discussion on things like finances and new purchases.
Teen love: Any time the phone rings, you are right there to pick it up and answer it, just in case it’s your significant other calling.
Married love: Caller ID shows it’s your spouse and you decide it’d save time and be easier to let voice mail pick it up.
Teen love: The best thing in the world for the girl is having one of boyfriend’s t-shirts doused in his cologne and a pair of his boxers so she can use them as her PJ’s. The guy thinks she’s never looked more adorable than when she’s in his clothes.
Married love: The woman is still using his t-shirts and boxers to sleep in, only now they’re washed in order to ensure their cleanliness before they touch her body. The man is wondering why she won’t ever wear lingerie to bed and gets tired of seeing her in his clothes.
Teen love: When your partner hurts your feelings you rarely admit it to yourself, much less to them, because “it isn’t that big of a deal and you know they didn’t mean it anyway.”
Married love: Now the slightest offense from your spouse can result in either a scathing attack on their character or the silent treatment than can stretch out into days on end.
Strengths and weaknesses
Teen love: His strong opinions are a mark of strength, his spontaneity a sign of his fun nature, and his making serious situations comical, a gift for relieving tension. Her opinions are the sign of a woman who knows what the thinks, her emotions make you feel protective, and her love for shopping is just her being all girly.
Married love: His strong opinions are him being an annoying know-it-all, his spontaneity is irresponsibility, and making light of serious situations is him being uncaring. Her strong opinions have turned into nothing but constant nagging, her moods are frustrating, and her love for shopping is making you guys go broke.
Teen love: Time was spent writing love letters and lists containing “The 100 reasons I love you”.
Married love: The only lists made now are “100 Honey To-do’s” and letters have become notes that are reminders about the Honey-do list.
Teen love: Hours are spent planning and preparing elaborate meals complete with candle light and romantic music.
Married love: Now wives inform their husband as he walks through the door after work that he needs to get right back in the car to pick up the pizza she just ordered for supper.
Teen love: Always looking one’s best is a must. Hair and makeup are done just so, and the clothes are fresh and appealing.
Married love: The woman is afraid if she actually dresses nice and does her hair and make up he’ll think she’s initiating sex, so it’s better if we just stay frumpy and frazzled. He wonders why she gets so upset because she thinks people will think badly of her, if he wears jeans to church or a PTA meeting.
There is a world of difference between teen love and married love. Some of the differences are humorous, others a bit more serious. In some ways, teens got a thing on us “old married people” and we could stand to revert back to those teen years a bit when it comes to our relationships with our husbands.
I read recently that “familiarity breeds complacency” and that holds especially true in our marriages. Let’s strive to look at our marriages in a new light, with the freshness of a teenagers just falling in love!