This isn't happily ever after, this is more than that.
Marriage is HARD.
About four months ago, I wrote a piece questioning if the love and devotion I have for my husband was enough to keep me married to him. I didn’t have the answer then, still don’t now. And I have to say, I prefer it that way. I’m not saying that I prefer a marriage shrouded in doubt and uncertainty because I don’t. But as a self-proclaimed control freak, I have to say that each and every day I am increasingly growing “ok” with not knowing how this thing is going to turn out. Let’s talk about how I got here.
First things first, contrary to my rantings of the past, I do have hope (not eternal pessimism) that my marriage goes the distance. And that is the first thing that led me to this place of content. Acknowledging that I actually do want to be married. Because at one point, several points actually, I was in severe doubt. And this isn’t the “we got into an argument, will this work out” doubt, it was the “why am I here and does it even matter,” type of doubt. I spent so much time focusing on the negative in my relationship, the negative in my husband, how he hurt me, I never spent the time actually thinking about or addressing my feelings, for him. Yes, he hurt me. More than once. Yes, he pissed me off. More than once. Yes, I was starting to resent him immensely. But when I get past all the hurt and the pain, and actually take a cursory look at myself, and this man I have pledged my life to, how does he actually make me feel? Can I see myself living this life without him by my side? How would it feel to not be able to wake up to the sound of his thunderous, deafening, man will you SHUT UP, snoring? How would I deal with the sound of silence? (Actually between you and me, it would probably be pretty lovely, but follow the sentiment here). After some REAL reflection, I’ve decided that I could not handle that.
Remember the refrigerator? If not, here’s a brief synopsis. We wanted a newer refrigerator to replace our 20-year-old one. We decided collectively to wait until the new year when my husband got a bonus to purchase it outright, instead of using credit. We came to this decision together. My husband decided to purchase the frig anyway, with credit. I was incensed, how could you make this decision without me? When we both agreed, that the best decision for our family was to not purchase it? Well, what I conveniently left out of that story, is that I was there when the refrigerator was purchased. We were actually sitting on the couch in our living room when my husband broached the subject of buying a refrigerator anyway, bonus be damned. I immediately remembered the promise we had just made to each other just days before to wait but remained silent. Not just silent, but I got myself and my toddler dressed and rode with him to the store. Silently watching as he perused the aisles, trying out doors, looking at the different compartments, before settling on the right one. I also stood silently aside while he pulled out our credit card and purchased it. Yes, we had made a decision, that he should have respected, but my silence vindicated him. Instead of silently fuming that he wasn’t listening to me, or that he didn’t care about my feelings, or was “walking all over me,” I should have spoken up. Why didn’t I give him a gentle reminder that we had decided against this? I let my submissiveness, and this feeling of wanting him to be happy, no matter the cost, get in the way of our relationship. You see, I rarely ever speak up when my husband’s forgetfulness leads to inconsideration. I just silently fume. I don’t confront him. I don’t speak against him, I’m quiet. I’ve been married before, and that marriage was tumultuous. My reaction to a conflict was to always scream now, ask for forgiveness later. I vowed, if I were to ever get married again, I would submit myself more to my husband, and handle myself with more restraint and decorum. And while I believe a wife should be submissive to her husband, (disclaimer: these are my beliefs and my beliefs only, if you believe the opposite, hats off to you), I don’t believe she should lose her voice. At least I no longer feel this way. I had to realize that not speaking up, or using my voice was becoming more detrimental to my relationship than beneficial. How can I call someone inconsiderate or selfish, without first expressing myself or my thoughts? Only after I speak up, and speak my piece should I make that judgment. Not before, and I should never assume. I had fallen into the “I’m not going to treat him like my old relationship, but I’m actually doing that anyway trap.” This was a different relationship. A different person. A second chance. It was time for me to acknowledge that.
This Time It's Different.
This leads me to my final point. I needed to stop living in the past and look forward. I’m a firm believer that our past and those experiences are not only things we can learn from and should, but also help mold and shape us into the human beings we become. But instead of letting the negative experiences be the fuel to my fire of change and growth, I let them become the fuel to my fire of destruction. If I wasn’t careful, instead of those fires providing warmth and light for my path forward, they were going to burn my relationship down. I was so caught up in not letting myself be that angry, volatile, person I was at 21, I failed to remember that I’m 34. There is no way I could be the same person I was then, after all, that I have been through. The 21-year-old wife who had never been married before never experienced a real adult relationship, and was dealing with a husband with substance abuse problems, had a hard time dealing with conflict. Her answer to conflict usually involved screaming at the top of her lungs, breaking something, and swinging on someone, HARD. The 34-year-old wife is in therapy, has learned that yelling and violence is not the best way to resolve conflict, and is more afraid of jail. The 34-year-old wife knows that an argument doesn’t always end badly and that they can be actually healthy for a relationship. Conflict will always exist in a relationship, it’s how you handle that conflict that determines how your relationship will end up. Don’t be afraid of conflict in a relationship, be afraid of how you handle it. Unfortunately, I let that fear silence me. And in that silence, I caused a lot of harm to myself. Stress, anxiety, headaches, anger, weight gain, you name it. I’ve experienced all of these things because I thought the best way to avoid conflict with my husband was to just shut up. What an idiot.
I'm Still Here
We made it to our fifth anniversary, intact. I now can acknowledge that while my husband is still a selfish arse, and can be inconsiderate, he’s messy, for some reason HATES to clean a bathroom (seriously, we’ve been together almost seven years now and he’s cleaned it twice), it won’t be the end of the world if I call him out on his shit. And if that leads to an argument? Fine. We can disagree without it ending in the physical discomfort that is caused by cold, rigid steel handcuffs that restrict your mobility and take a little of your soul. (If you’ve ever been handcuffed, as I sadly have been, you know what I mean, you LITERALLY can’t move, and they cut off your circulation). He wants to hear me, and my point of view. It’s not fair if I don’t give him the chance to. So no, I don’t know what the future holds. I’m not a psychic or the great man above. What I do know is I’m going to stop letting my past dictate my future. And that’s a future I want to experience with him, forever, or as long as we both shall live.
Thanks for Listening.