When we first talked about getting married our dating relationship had nearly just begun. Almost immediately, I knew there was no doubt that I wanted and needed to marry Spencer. I am sure you recognize this feeling. From reconnecting to dating to engagement, I was captivated by this man who understood my heart more than I ever thought anyone could, all while being lured into the often experienced, yet denied state of “happily ever after”. At the time, every part of life seemed simple just because we were together. I was overly giddy and extremely optimistic regarding the crazy plans we were making and the rate at which we were making them. If you are family or friends reading this, just know we now understand your weariness. Looking back, we made some big decisions in a small amount of time, but even now I don’t regret them.
During dating and engagement, I believe this magical cloud comes down from Heaven and enters the brain. One who was once careful and thoughtful and organized will become carefree and spontaneous and romantic. This cloud takes over all normal thinking and conscious decision making, leaving only hearts and butterflies and dreams of diamond rings left floating around. At least this is what happened to me.
Spencer and I dated for less than a year, were engaged for barely four months, and married. We were in love. Crazy, yes, but in love we were. Family and friends tried slowing us down and posed questions like, “Are you sure you’re ready?” and “What’s the rush?”, to which I posed the question, “Why is it your business?” I apologize now to all those who tried to burst my cloud and received such bluntness. Although I still believe you were wrong for asking those questions, I understand your heart behind them now. Were we ready for marriage? Probably not. Yet, is anyone ever actually ready for marriage?
Those months of dating and the weeks leading up to the wedding, I tried fighting the overwhelming urge to believe that marriage was going to be complete bliss. My natural pessimistic self tried arguing with the magical cloud on a daily basis but to no avail. I was wrapped up in the idea that marriage makes life better and love will get us through anything. Despite books I read and wives I talked to and previous experiences I’ve had, I believed on November 7th, 2015 I would enter into my fairytale and ride off into the sunset. And wow, was I right.
You’re probably rolling your eyes or gagging from that last paragraph, and I don’t blame you. But before you exit the page and never read my blog again, let me clarify. Before I committed myself to marriage with Spencer, my idea of a simple, fairytale life was bogus. I imagined cuddling every night, home cooked meals for supper, and always agreeing. This was happiness to me. This was an enjoyable life. I did not imagine going to bed at separate times, running through Taco Bell (yet again), or disagreeing on big issues. This is unattractive. This is frustrating. However, this is…real.
The truth is, life is not simple. Decisions and circumstances and commitments and responsibilities add up and the sum is often chaos. There are good days and bad days. One week your hair is full and your curls actually stay, yet the next week all you get is flat, fine, and frizzy. A relationship is in turmoil or someone has deeply hurt you. You’ve tried over and over again to achieve but for some reason you continue to fail. Work is unfulfilling and exhausting. And on and on it goes. Life is not simple. Despite my previous beliefs, I learned quickly that marriage doesn’t simplify things. Marriage doesn’t fulfill me or always go the way I plan. We look ahead always hoping that this one significant event, like marriage or children or jobs, will make every thing better. And we are let down when it doesn’t.
I refuse to be let down by my marriage. I refuse to let the mundane tasks of doing the same laundry, washing the same dishes, arguing over the same issues define my marriage. We decided early on that we would not be surprised by the chaos that life throws at us, at the troubles we will endure together. We will not let our schedules dictate our time together. We know we will fight. We know we will disagree. Why? Because having an opinion different from someone else is NORMAL. And I refuse to let our differences be an issue. These choices we are making to believe about our marriage have helped us to see that life may not be simple, but our marriage can be.
That girl pre-marriage you read about earlier still exists but she’s wiser and more honest. She doesn’t need to pretend that everything is perfect when it’s not. She knows that disagreements will come. She knows sacrifices have to be made and not every night will end in cuddling (much less going to bed at the same time). She wants those things, but understands that seasons come when you have to choose one good thing over another good thing and that those choices aren’t always easy. She is still giddy and spontaneous and romantic, yet careful and thoughtful and organized. She has learned that choosing to love one another really can get you through anything, because that kind of love is based on a decision, not a feeling. She knows that no matter what happens outside her marriage, that inside is always safe. Always warm. Always home.
One piece of advice – Taco Bell for supper is not always a bad idea and if in this season that is all you can muster for your family, order that loaded griller, girl. But one evening, take some time for yourself, dig out those pans, and make some supper straight from your stove. Your husband will thank you and so will your soul. There is something so rich about creating with your own hands and sitting around the table with your people. I took that time this week and I just feel better. You can find some inspiration here if you need it.
In closing and in the name of Walt Whitman… “We were together, I forget the rest.”