Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Beautiful and Hard Discipline of Being Married

This week David and I are celebrating our two year wedding anniversary. I found it fitting that on our drive up to the North Shore, I was reading this blog I read from time to time called "Momastery", and she talked about marriage being hard. Beautiful, but hard. Which prompted me to write about my own feelings on marriage.

If any of you know me or have spent any time remotely with me over the last two years, I've made it no secret that I find marriage to be incredibly difficult. Think about it. You take two people, who are going to be different from each other no matter who you marry, and stick them in the same living space and say, "Okay, now figure out how to live together, plan your time together, manage family dynamics different from your own together, financially support yourselves with no outside help, split up the household chores in an equitable way, and oh yeah, love each other to the point of sacrificial love. Try not kill each other in the process." Whhhaaattt!!!???

So being the person I've decided I want to be, sincerely committed to openness and honesty, I've been pretty transparent about how hard I find this process. More with some than with others, and that's mostly because of the reactions I get from people. I think people have this idea that marriage is meant to make you happy (probably explains why the divorce rate is so high; the second you aren't happy anymore, it stops working for you). I think happiness is a by-product of marriage, absolutely, but I believe marriage, for me at least, was meant to teach me how to be better. A better person, a better friend, a better everything. And any kind of growth, for me at least, is hard. SUPER hard. Growth means being stretched, and it's not always easy and it's not always fun. It's always always good, but it's hard.

That being said, I'm always surprised when people respond to my narrative about the difficulty of being married with surprise and confusion. I've heard it all from "how did you end up together?", to "oh that's so sad, you're in the honeymoon phase!". The list of judgmental reactions goes on and on. And then on some more.

So I guess I'm writing this because I wanted to let others know, if you feel like your marriage doesn't look like the ones you've seen on tv or the one others are telling you you're supposed to have: that's okay. Expect it to be hard. Good things, anything worth having, can be really hard to achieve, and takes work. REALLY hard and difficult work, but beautiful and meaningful work. We put in the work because eventually, it will pay off. It may take a while, but you'll see. I mean hey, I'm celebrating two years aren't I? ;)

Here an excerpt from the blog I mentioned in the first paragraph. The author's name is Glennon Doyle Melton, and she writes at her blog It's people like her that give me the freedom to speak my truth. I hope by doing so, others don't feel so alone.

I talk about my flailing marriage because (and a year ago I’d have ripped your well-meaning head off if you’d predicted this to me) the truth is that my marriage had to be shattered before it could be pieced back together. My marriage was like a busted arm that The Doctor had to re-break before it could heal right. A year ago- it all fell apart. Yes it did. And I about died. But now. Just a year later – my marriage is excruciating and real and true and deep and GORGEOUS for the first time. For the very first time. It also still sucks. It hurts and burns and refuses to leave me in peace – like every crucible does. But damned if all that discomfort didn’t turn out to be the good stuff. Like the Velveteen Rabbit – maybe neither people nor marriages become Real until the shine and newness rubs off and they look ugly and worn out to the rest of the world but real and soft and comforting and lovely to the one who holds them.

This past year has been a special slice of hell for me and Craig-  and I never, ever thought it would get better. I had no outward hope for a long while– but I kept showing up, and so did Craig. We kept fiercely and relentlessly showing up. We did NOT commit to each other this past year. We individually committed to the Spiritual Practice of Showing Up.

And last week I looked at Craig and thought- Holy SHIT. I think I love him. For the first time. For the first time - I respect the hell out of this man. It took a year of tears and faith and sweat and therapy and prayer and more tears and it will always be hard. It will always be hard and that’s okay. We have proved to our kids and ourselves that We Can Do Hard Things.