Friday, April 18, 2014

Honest thoughts on marriage

In August, Preston and I will celebrate two years of marriage. TWO YEARS. When I walked down the aisle in my pretty lace dress to my handsome man, I was confident that by this point - more than a year later - I would have this thing down to a science. I would be a perfect little loving wife and we would have a perfect little life and a perfect marriage.... HA! Spoiler alert: none of these are true. The thing about marriage that they don't tell you (or maybe they do and my stubborn self just didn't listen) is that it's not about you. It is simple and should have been obvious, yet I went into it thinking that marriage would be great for me and my future. And really it was for awhile, because, honestly, when I get my way I am great! Fantastic! But if I didn't get my way, Lord help us all. And naturally, things started to happen where I didn't get my way - because (shocker!) there are TWO people in this marriage and it does not get to be all about me.

As life happens (family sickness, death, moving across the country, it is your turn to clean the floors) we would argue. And I would nitpick. And I would (and often do - working on it!) hold Preston to this standard of unattainable perfection. Say the right thing, do the right thing, put off this image. Preston actually told me recently that he felt like he was walking on a tight rope, afraid to do something wrong and set me off. Talk about a wake up call. When your husband says this it is time to reevaluate what you are doing, because the thing that is the most important in marriage - making your spouse feel loved and supported - is something you are flat out failing at. Something I was failing at. What I've noticed over the last 20 months, and the thing that surprised me the most, is that the things I would (and still do) argue about and project onto Preston (you're not doing enough around the house! you are selfish! you are not working hard enough!) are the things that I was struggling with personally. They had nothing to do with Preston, yet I was using the one closest to me to unload these feelings. A few months into being married, I started to really struggle with insecurity. I would question 'Why me? Why is he married to me? Am I really loved?" over and over. Instead of confronting this head on, I put up a defense. I was judgmental, spiteful and mean. I didn't want to have an honest conversation with myself or with my husband, I didn't want to be vulnerable because I! am! strong! and independent! Except for I'm not, because a strong person doesn't push their insecurities onto their husband or scrutinize him for every little thing. 

A marriage is about two people compromising, working together and loving each other selflessly. It is about two people coming together to love each other but to trust in God. I have been so blessed in my life to have some incredible examples of loving selflessly (hi mom!) but this skill is not one that I have done well with at certain points in the last year and a half. Recently I have found some incredible resources to help me with this (like this) and have been praying SO hard that I get better at this. I have also been reading (and reflecting) on tons of things which really help me grow as a person. Lately one of the things I've been seeing a lot of are articles titled things like "Why you should always wait until your 30 to get married" and "Those who marry before 35 have the highest divorce rates." I think that is a cop out. I don't think age is the real issue, I think that selfishness is. I think that thinking you are the center of the world is a quick way to an unhealthy relationship.  I think with age typically comes a lot of wisdom - much of it being that a meaningful life is when you focus on others, not yourself - and I think that is the key to why marriages later in life do well. Being married to someone really, really makes you get to know yourself so much better - and when you see things that you don't like about yourself it gives you a support system to work on them. Somebody very wise (hi again mom!) told me several times while Preston and I were dating and engaged 'don't ever marry anybody expecting to change them'. You cannot ever change anybody else. What you can change is yourself, and knowing that has been such a blessing to me. I have the power to change the things in myself that need some work. 

I realize I will never be a perfect little wife. I am SO far from perfect and that's okay. Our marriage will also never be perfect. But it can be incredible. It takes me looking myself in the mirror and actually facing those realities and deciding to work on them every single day: selfishness, insecurity. It also takes me forgiving myself and not (mentally) kicking myself over and over and over. It takes me realizing that life is messy, and can be hard, and that it is okay to be vulnerable and to show it. IT IS OKAY TO FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS. And it is also okay to not know the answers and to give my struggles to God. 

I have a huge gulp in my throat as I write this, but I think it is important to share and to talk about real life and real struggles as we're in them. I think it is good to share that life is not always rainbows and cupcakes, but sometimes looks a little bit more like wiping your alligator tears on your husbands t-shirt as you work through your problems. I have been so blessed reading about other couple's journeys and hearing about their struggles and how they work to overcome them. Life can be so hard, and so messy, but WE ARE NOT IN IT ALONE! YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I AM NOT ALONE! We have God, we have our spouses, our family and our friends to support, pray, love and encourage us. And honestly? Marriage is by far the best thing I have done in life. The arguments, the truths you're forced to face, every little piece of it is worth in one hundred times over. Getting to go through life with Preston and to experience the ups, the downs, the crazy adventures - I wouldn't trade that for the world.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a beautiful and honest post, thank you for sharing! I think we can all use similar advice for any relationship we have!