I made a rule for my blog - I will not discuss my marriage. I made that rule because not only do I feel that a marriage is a very sacred and private thing, but I feel like discussing it openly on the internet is just a slippery slope into very private territory. However, I'm making an exception with this post so that I can fully discuss something.
My husband is my first love. My only love, really. We met at 16. It hasn't been a picnic; going through literal growing pains on the road from adolescence to playing house and emerging as actual adults and choosing to stay in this for the long run has been nothing short of madness.
I remember how much I wanted to be a wife before Chris ever proposed. If you've ever read "The Catcher In The Rye," there's a moment in chapter 25 (yes, I'm that much of a book worm) where Holden discusses Phoebe reaching for the brass rings on the merry-go-round. Holden said, "if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them." I always thought of myself like that in that limbo stage of my relationship. It was a merry-go-round for sure, and I surely was reaching for those rings regardless of the risk of falling. I wanted it, BAD! Unlike Holden I will tell you the truth.
I care if you fall.
I remember being enraged when woman after woman I knew got married to men they hadn't known a fraction of the time I had known Chris. Every Christmas, birthday, Valentine's Day, I was searching high and low for my ring. GIMME, GIMME! I didn't care that our relationship from age 21-23 was absolute hysteria and toxic beyond words. A ring would fix it ALL.
And when I left him flat cold, stopped returning calls, dragged his butt to court for child support and cut all ties with his life, things finally changed. He changed. And my frog turned back into my prince. He married me that next year, in a white and pink tuxedo, of course.
Now that I'm married, all but one of those couples I was SO jealous of are divorced. A few of them have already remarried. And I know why:
My first year of marriage was hard.
That's the first time I've admitted that to anyone besides my closest confidants. But yes, it was hard. I was surprised at how hard, given the fact my husband and I had been together eight long years, living together for five of them before we even got married. I thought this would be a walk in the park. Ring, check. Dress, check. Groom, check. Sign me up for my happily ever after. But that's just not how it went.
I could tell you it was all his fault. In fact, that was the story I went with in my head for the majority of that first year. He was just too demanding, wanted too much of my time, expected me to just drop it all and be a wife and a wife alone. The audacity! I am a modern woman. I don't do roses by the dozens or hand holding in the park. I'll take an espresso over a flower any day. I work long hours, my job causes me to curse like a sailor, I do homework and supervise my child's homework while I cook dinner and I have ambitions of taking over the world. And for a VERY long time, I never thought about what the view of that looked like from my husband's angle.
If I could describe the man I married, I would call him a smooth jazz song. No harsh horns, no wild tones. He's the kind of guy who cancels his cable the day he's supposed to move out, and keeps the same sweat pants for nearly a decade (I hate those sweats) and thinks a wallet is a practical Christmas gift. I'm more like heavy metal. I don't feel "busy" unless I'm doing 4-5 things at one time, I plan things weeks and months (even years) in advance, and I am beyond high maintenance. So it's easy to see how just watching me run around like mad has driven my husband nuts for years. When we got married, he thought I'd calm down, and when we got married I checked him off of my "to-do" list. The year that followed was all a result of that silent miscommunication. Don't get me wrong, there's been plenty of good, but more difficulty than there should have been.
I see so many people I know running to get Married. But now that I've seen so much divorce, maybe it's not for you?
Marriage may not be for you if you don't know how to compromise.
It's definitely not for you if you don't know how to forgive.
How to shut the hell up sometimes.
If you don't know how to put on the other person's shoes and walk in them.
How to elevate them even though they were very sucky last week and it would be great to get them back this week.
If you don't know how to be there for your spouse when you feel like they've let you down.
If you like to play the "mine" game.
It's not for you if you expect to always be in love. Some days the heat just isn't there. For that matter, some weeks, some months... You get the point.
It isn't for you if you can't put yourself last.
It really isn't for you if you think your spouse will stay the same. I've known at least 6 versions of Chris. He claims I have as many personalities as Sybil. We deal with it.
It's not for you if you aren't loyal. Emotionally and physically, you're in this with your spouse, even when you don't want to be. You don't get a cheater pass because your husband made you cry. Suck it up buttercup.
It isn't for you if you don't like to share money.
It isn't for you if you don't want to find out the good, the bad and the ugly about another person's vices.
It's not for you if you just want something that looks good to the world.
It's not for you if you refuse to work.
This is not a sprint people, it's a MARATHON.
Like I said, our first year was HARD. It felt like prison at times. I've cried more than I care to share. He's been frustrated. BUT we made it.
We had some hard discussions.
We saw a counselor.
We talked about the not so fun things. And a LOT of these things should have been on our list of discussions before the pink tux.
But we made some agreements. Ones I won't share here. But I think we'll be alright. We've been through far worse, after all. Year two of marriage has felt much brighter and sunnier than year one.
But a word to every woman who, like me, is reaching, striving and waiting to get her "brass" ring.
Talk about the tough things. The things you can never imagine happening because you're so head-over-heels in love. Buckle up. Prepare for everything but the happily ever after.
Not because it will be bad, but because if and when the chips are down, it takes a strong commitment to see it through.
We're the microwave generation. We want it all. We want it NOW. But marriage - it's just not like that. You have to fix what you break, over and over again. Even when it's the 50th time.
For better or worse, anyone?
On our wedding day I had one of the ministers read this poem by C.S. Lewis.
I know a few guests were puzzled, but if you read this whole post, you get it. To my friends who's marriages didn't work out, I hope they find this in their next relationship and marriages.
To my dear husband, you were worth the wait. Thank you for being better than "Being In Love."