2011, our first year of marriage, was one of both pleasant surprises and bitter disappointment. I was angry at much of the world for the first six months of our marriage. I cried so much, and Mr. S. cried with me.
Marriage was good, but it didn’t look like how we thought it might. It didn’t look like what our handful of married friends said it would. It didn’t look like TV and movies and books. It didn’t even look like what preachers and ministers had told us it would. I was angry at the media, who told me marriage and love and sex and life together is always ah-mazing. I was angry at, yep, some of my married friends who portrayed perfection. Most of all, I was angry at myself for using these examples to create unrealistic expectations for myself and for our marriage.
My most angry and most frequent cry: No one told me. I felt broken as a woman and broken as a person and broken as a wife.
How dramatically different my first year of marriage may have looked if I’d heard more variety in the stories. I craved — and still crave — real, true honesty.
As days became weeks and weeks became months, coming to others for help grew difficult. I was sick — sick, sick, sick — of the world telling me how things are and how things will be and what it means about me if I am not. Vicious jealousy took its place in my heart.
Too few people tell the whole truth about marriage. Married people, we owe it to our communities to talk about what marriage is really like. Marriage looks different for everyone. And your friends need and want to hear your story.
For some people, marriage is perfect. Share it. We need to hear the romantic, sexy, fun, best-friends-forevah! stories.
For some people, marriage is difficult and rotten. Share it. We need to hear the broken, struggling, so-much-work stories.
For some people — and I’m guessing it’s most people — marriage is a bit of both. Really, it’s been a bit of both for Mr. S. and me. I love him dearly, and he loves me dearly. What that love looks like is different every day. Honestly, Mr. S. is a dream come true. At the risk of retitling this post “Ode to my Husband,” he’s remarkable. He’s studious and also sets aside time to be with me. He does all the laundry. He makes me laugh and put up with — no, celebrates — my shenanigans. He’s my biggest cheerleader and I’m his. He’s tall and has soft hair and I love when he smiles at me. He’s intelligent and curious and loves to learn. Most of all, he loves the Lord.
He’s close to perfect and yet our first year was one of so much joy and also a bit of anger. Mr. S. and I are both driven, Type A, semi-perfectionists. We aim for the best in every area of our marriage. Too often, we see only where we fail and miss out on where we succeed. I often get discouraged.
God is using this experience to teach me that He will complete the good work He’s started in me, and in our marriage.
So when a trusted confidante praised us on Monday, her sweet words were welcomed with open arms. She reminded us that just because we struggle in one or two areas, that doesn’t make our marriage a failure. Greater still, when we struggle, we struggle together. Yes, we struggle, but we’re struggling in the same direction. God used her words to remind us that we’re for each other. And for that, I praise God and smile big. We’ve come a long way and still have quite a long way to go, and I hope to share more of this walk on this blog. But today, we celebrate because here we are, together.
Marriage is hard. Marriage is really hard. And, at the very same time, it’s wonderful. It’s wonderful because when we struggle, we struggle as a team.
Furthermore, I’m learning that this is a covenant. It’s not about just husband and wife; it’s about Creator and husband and wife. It’s a message I wrote on my pointer finger on our wedding day, and one God has written on my heart every day since.
Some dear, truthful friends have shared their stories. We treasure every last one. But still, how I wish I had heard more this past year. More honest stories. Please, tell me what your covenant really looks like. Because what we see on TV and in movies and magazines is rarely the truth. Marriages should not have to be built on these at-best half-truths. Hearing stories of marriage — both good and bad — may have helped me keep the faith.
To those who are married, open up and share. Open your arms for a hug and know that it’s hard to share but it’s good to share! Share the good and the bad. Share the wins and the losses. Share what you’re tackling, and how you’re tackling it as allies and not as adversaries. The world, and its marriages, need to hear about it.
Linking up today with the fantastic Joy of Joy in this Journey. Every Wednesday, she hosts life:unmasked, where she invites us to share the vulnerable messy truth about us and how God is working in it.
Photo credit: Covenant photo taken on our wedding day by the talented and wonderful Maggie Rife.