If you’re like me, your Facebook feed has been covered with articles about marriage lately. The article that started it off, Marriage Isn’t For You by Seth Adams began a veritable landslide of marriage perspective articles. While I don’t agree with everything written in these articles and reactions, it did make me stop and think a little bit about marriage, and more specifically MY marriage.
“I wanted to be able to go off during the day to the land of the Wild Things, and come home at night to where someone loves me most of all. I wanted to be that for my husband.”
It’s almost impossible to write an article about marriage that will cover all shapes and colors of relationships out there. Marriages are made up of individuals who have decided to merge their lives together. You take the quirks and lives of these pairs of people, multiply it by year married and the perspective changes even more. Seth Adams was writing his article from the perspective of a man who had been married for a year and a half (I mean really – he describes one big meltdown like it was life changing. Get ready bud, there’s more to come, I’m sure!). I’ve been married for about five years and I feel like my perspective is a little different. Yet I’m sure that my perspective will change again 5, 10, and 20 years from now.
So instead of reading these articles and burning up the comments because I do/don’t agree with the philosophy presented, I started thinking about marriage. Here’s some questions that came to my mind as I reflected. I hope you’ll ask yourself these question as well. I’m sure your answers will be different from mine, and that’s okay!
Why Am I Married?
There’s a children’s book I love, called Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. A little boy named Max travels far away to the land of the Wild Things where he romps and plays with magical monsters. Yet he soon gets lonely, and wants to be “where someone loves him most of all” (he’s thinking of his mother). When my husband and I were dating and first started talking about marriage, that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be able to go off during the day to the land of the Wild Things, and come home at night to where someone loves me most of all. I wanted to be that for my husband. And most days it’s like that.
But I’m not perfect, and neither is my husband. There are frankly, some days I’m not very lovable (and neither is he). I promised to be in this marriage even if he leaves stinky socks on the bathroom floor for the 1,100th time. I promised to be his “someone who loves him most of all” even when he leaves dirty dishes in the sink. By falling back on that marriage promise, I can grit my teeth and get through the days when he is less than lovable.
Through the five years we’ve been married we’ve had some really tough times. There have been major medical conditions that have popped up unexpectedly. There have been big philosophical disagreements. There have been times when our very strong personalities have clashed catastrophically. Yet, as I write this article, I look out the window at my husband playing with my son in the front yard and think “I still love him most of all”. And by sticking through those hard times, loving unselfishly, our love is now deeper and more precious to me than ever. During those times when he and I are at our most unlovable, I know that if we honor our marriage, we will weather the storm and come out together hand in hand on the other side. And I will still have a place where I am loved most of all.
Am I In Love?
I think it’s perfect that the symbol of marriage is a ring, because in real life, love is a cycle. In movies, love is depicted as a straight line. Movie Marriage is all happy-ever-afters, rainbows and butterflies. Then when the rainbows and butterflies fade, it’s time to move on. In real life, I believe that marriage is not disposable. I’m not saying that no one should ever divorce – there are completely valid reasons why a marriage might end. However, I feel that as a society we have become too casual with marriage. Sometimes we end it because it’s not fulfilling us the way we feel it should, we have irreconcilable differences, or we’ve fallen out of love.
There WILL be times that marriage will not fulfill us. There WILL be times where we will have irreconcilable differences. There WILL be times where we will actually question “Am I still in love with him?” Yet, the cycle of love keeps turning. Being married means falling in love with your spouse over and over and over again. When I’m not feeling the love, I know that if I really look for things to love about him, that cycle will flip. There will be times where I am so full of love for my husband I get butterflies. There will be times that I’ll feel like no one else understands me the way he does. There will be times that I am so incredibly grateful for my marriage it brings tears to my eyes.
We are not perfect people and neither are our marriages. Ideally, you fall into that cycle of love, constantly looking for things to love about your spouse and falling in love over and over and over again.
Am I Happy?
When I was single, someone told me “If you’re not happy when you’re single, you won’t be happy when you’re married.” Being married won’t make you automatically happy. You’re still very much the same person after you’re married that you were when you were single. Only you can choose if you are happy or not. Each day I can wake up and say “I’m going to look at the bright side of this or I’m going to look at the negative”. My attitude doesn’t change reality or circumstances, it just changes how well I deal with them. This is especially true in marriage, and it’s something I’m really working on. It’s not my spouse’s responsibility to make me happy, it’s my own. It’s not my spouse’s responsibility to make me love him, it’s my own. It’s not my spouse’s responsibility to make sure I have a happy marriage, it’s my own. Do his actions impact how I feel about love, happiness, and marriage? Oh yeah, they do. But at the end of the day my emotions are my own responsibility.
Absolute Perfection Isn’t Possible
I had an experience the other day that pretty much sums it all up. It was about 5:00 am in the morning, and I’d woken up from a bad dream. I was scared and upset and I just wanted to be held. I woke up my husband and told him. He sleepily nodded and smooshed me into a giant bear hug against his chest. In the movies, cuddling in bed always looks so comfy and sweet. The reality is very different. That morning as I was smooshed against my hubby, my arms were falling asleep in weird positions. There was chest hair up my nose. I could smell my own morning breath and my hair was sticking out everywhere. Honestly, it was really uncomfortable. But I felt secure, safe, and loved and that’s what I chose to focus on. That’s marriage. You choose to ignore the imperfect stuff about your partner, like chest hair up your nose, and the imperfect stuff it reveals about you, like morning breath, because you want to be safe, secure, and loved.
And I think it’s totally worth it.
Lexie Robinson Austin is one of the few born and raised Huntsville natives. She is a stepmom to one, a librarian to many, a reader of books, and baker of cookies. She likes ridiculously impractical shoes and the color pink.