(We’ve already talked about how marriage is good, so if you’ve missed that, start there!)
Marriage is hard. The reality is that when two people get married, it’s two sinners from different backgrounds becoming one household. Two people who grew up in two families with two different ways of doing things and two different ways of being family and two lots of baggage collide and become one. It’s a mess sometimes and the learning curve associated is as steep as the hill our apartment is at the top of.
Pegs were our first real point of tension. Yes, you read that correctly – pegs. One of us grew up with pegs being left on the line because it saves time and you lean over less to pick up pegs from a basket and the other grew up with them in a basket because it extended the life of the flimsy plastic they’re often made of.* This caused tension because we both contribute to housework since the running of a house is a team operation and so one of us would find pegs on the line when they went to take clothes off the line and feel frustrated and put them away, the other would put clothes on the line and feel frustrated that pegs weren’t there. It’s silly but there you have it. That was our first household argument.
That’s a small example that was easily resolved, but as we’ve walked through marriage so far we find that most points of difficulty come from things that are ingrained in us from the past that we brought into marriage without even knowing it. Sometimes when we speak to one another, we open up old wounds that we didn’t even know existed. Sometimes we won’t understand why something is so hard for the other person when it’s easy for us. Sometimes we just clash.
In these hard moments, we should stop and take a breath and communicate about what’s happening, what we’re feeling, and why. That’s, well… hard, though. It’s easier to shut down and stubbornly insist that you’re the one who’s right, and he’s wrong and he needs to apologise. But marriage wasn’t meant to be easy. It’s hard.
I wasn’t well one night. I had a fever and was tired and just sort of sad. James didn’t want to deal with it – he had been looking forward to a quiet night. Instead of asking him to help and letting him know exactly how rotten I was feeling, I shut down. He didn’t know what was going on and was frustrated. The night ended in tears for me, and frustration for James, because I didn’t want to open a conversation and he didn’t even know that there was a conversation to be had. We talked before bed, but only after he pushed a lot, and the next day was one of the best dates we’ve had because we realised that if we just kept communicating when we didn’t really want to, we’d be stronger for it.
But it’s so hard. It’s hard to take two people who are different, in spite of all their similarities, and put them in one family. I think what’s helped us a lot is that we walked into this marriage knowing that it wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but that it would be good. God gave us each other to commit to for life, and there’s safety in that for us. It means that as we walk through hard moments we’re still secure in our relationship. It won’t crumble because of a fight. It won’t crumble because someone left the pegs on the line. We’ve committed. We’re in this thing for life and as we’re adjusting, we’re finding that we take the best of ourselves and keep growing that, and we learn ways to put salve on old wounds instead of reopening them.
Marriage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I committed to someone for life and created a family with him. It’s messy. It requires effort that sometimes, neither of us want to put in. But hard work doesn’t mean something is bad – and the hard work is worth it. It’s so worth it.
*The debate has ended and a decision was made about which way we went with the pegs, but in the interest of fairness you don’t need to know who was which side of the debate. I mean, really, it’s just pegs… right? Right…?