My regular readers may notice I don't write about my marriage too much on this blog. I keep it pretty hush hush....for good reason. My marriage is....hmmm, how do you say it....the most challenging aspect of my life.
You might remember from my post, Crazy Hooker to Crazy....Homemaker?, my husband and I didn't meet the "traditional" way. We didn't take things slow. We didn't get to know each other by dating and maintaining a long engagement. Our relationship fired like a bullet from a gun and we ran with it.
And we have, since the beginning of our marriage, dealt with the kickback. Each and every day.
We've had your standard arguments.
You need to get up with the baby. Why did you leave the lint trap full? We have too much crap going on. We never do anything! I'll fix it when I get a minute. I thought you were paying on that loan? That is really, really loud. Calm down. I hate sour cream.
Haha, can you guess who said what?
But we've also had very serious arguments....arguments most marriages try like hell to avoid.
Are you drunk? I've realized you're just a negative person. You slept with someone else! Can you stop trying to change me? I don't want you to die. I thought you quit smoking? You'd be better off without me. Our child is afraid of you. Do you want to leave? I'm leaving.
Yikes, right? It's not even fun to try guessing who said what with those statements.
I thought it was important to name names here and lay it all out as a preface to my lessons list. You just read the reality of my marriage. It is far, very far, from perfect. We didn't take a traditional route to get to love and we're not taking the traditional route to get to peace. But we're trying. And isn't that all any of us can ever do when faced with challenges? Try and learn as much as you can, then use it for the greater good?
So here's what I've gathered so far:
1. Marriage is compromise on steroids.
One of the greatest life skills we'll ever learn is how to identify which battles to fight and how to negotiate during moments of war. Coffee rings on the table? Fine. Coffee grounds all over the wall? Not cool. Clean that stuff, man. If you clean the coffee grounds, I'll clean the coffee rings, ok? Yea. Simple, trivial example, but this is my life. Battle-picking and compromise. I'm not proficient yet...but I'm getting there.
2. The power of forgiveness is underestimated.
Telling someone you forgive them does not weaken you, or make you a pushover, or signify an acceptance of abuse. Forgiveness is a gift to bestow upon those who harm you. It is a freedom you grant yourself. Don't let the opinions of others sway you from doing what you know is right.
3. People will judge your marriage more than they judge your home, clothes, job, or parenting.
I cannot tell you some of the things I've heard, both to my face and behind my back, about my marriage. It's natural for those who care about you to want nothing but the best for you. But the other fools? The ones who talk just to talk? The ones who form opinions without getting all the information? Those people have a name - ignorance.
4. Marriage requires (and I mean absolutely requires) both participants to become experts in determining what they need....and then become fully capable of communicating it.
When bad things happen everyone wants to know why. How. What could I have done. It's my personal belief that every relationship, no matter how happy, how introverted, how stable, and how subtle, should go in for regular "need check-ups." Sometimes simply stopping and thinking about what you need in your relationship is enough to prevent tragedy.
5. You will encounter friends of the relationship and enemies of the relationship.
My closest friends support my marriage. They don't need to like my husband, or agree with the things we fight about, or even enjoy being there for me when I cry, but they need to respect me. I'm a grown woman, a smart one at that, and unless I'm high off my ass or doing nothing to rectify my problems, they will stand by me. I've learned I need to hang with friends of my marriage if I want to maintain marital health.
6. If the biggest problem in your relationship is a toilet seat in the upright position, there is no problem.
Perspective is everything. Just look at the toilet seat, Neo. There is no toilet seat. I mean really, people. If a toilet seat is what you fight about, I'm happy for you. It means you've officially got one of the most blessed relationships on earth. Congratulations.
7. Just because you're married doesn't mean you won't get lonely.
This one is so hard for me. I am a "quality time" love language (oh yea, I've read it. I've read them allllll, people). I want to spend genuine, heartfelt time with my spouse. If he spends his free time doing something without me, I feel excluded...like I'm missing out. I've had to learn how to find my own moments of happiness without him. I joined a mom group. I joined a choir. I wrote a book. These are my things...my intentional things. And wouldn't you know it? I'm happier because of them....as is my husband.
8. Ultimatums can change...and even.....disappear.
When I was in college, I knew exactly what the man I would marry was going to be like. I knew what my marriage would look like each morning. I knew where my lines in the sand stood and what I would or would not allow. It's not wrong to have these expectations or ultimatums. Just be aware that once real life happens, it will kick those ultimatums right in the vagina. Nobody can predict what her final decision will be before actually experiencing the sequence of events leading up to the choice. Nobody. Not even me. Not even you. Not even Gandhi.
8 years. It may not sound like much to you, but to me, it's an accomplishment.
Now I know my story is not the same as yours. Maybe you can relate to the arguments I wrote about up there in the beginning. Maybe you're disgusted by this whole post. Maybe you're worried. Maybe you're relieved. Regardless of how you feel about my admissions and hard-earned lessons, I truly hope this list will inspire some sort of resolution, comfort, or perspective in your life. If nothing else, at least promise me you'll have a glass of wine or a beer later in my honor.
As always, my lovely, wonderful readers, thank you so much for reading.