I thought I knew everything I needed to know.
“Marriage is hard” they said. “You have to constantly work at marriage” they said. “A marriage is a lifetime commitment” they said.
In the words of The Breakfast Club radio personality, Angela Yee, “who the hell is they?”
Reality was a much harsher teacher.
People, with the best of intentions, only make thinly veiled references as to what marriage is but no one ever tells the unadulterated truth. They didn’t tell me that some days I would not like my husband. They didn’t tell me there would be days I’m led to question my decision to get married. They didn’t tell me that I would have to yell at my husband every week to put the toilet seat down. They didn’t tell me I would have to smile through all my husband’s exaggerated stories a thousand times whenever company comes over. And they most certainly did not tell me the men who open car doors; make sure their wives don’t pump gas after dark, and being all around stable providers disappeared with my father’s generation.
This is not to say I do not enjoy marriage and that there are no benefits to it. It is to say that I wish I’d had the opportunity to walk into marriage with eyes wide open, knowing what I was getting myself into. Most little girls are spoon fed this fantasy of a big and glamorous wedding while topping it off with a house on a hill and white picket fence. They should have told me that marriage, in all of its beauty, is above all hard work.
I’ll tell you what I wish they would have told me.
Marriage is the intertwining of two separate lives becoming one. You’re literally merging two lives with wholly individual beginnings, rearing, and experiences so of course there will be some bumps in road. Navigating and sustaining marriage requires much more than love, commitment, or fidelity. All of these things, of course, are important. Yet, there will be days in your marriage where the love you have is wholly overshadowed by your deep desire to punch your spouse in the gullet. But, what will sustain your in marriage is remembering why you got married in the first place.
Marriage is hard enough without worrying about changing to please your partner.
What sustains my marriage besides all the typical corny stuff like love, trust commitment, etc.; is the ability to be myself. My husband has always accepted who I was as a person and never tried to change me. I’m a free spirit who doesn’t like to conform to traditional norms. As one can imagine, I’d never thought I would find myself in the traditional confines of marriage. I did know that if I were to, as Jay-Z eloquently put it, “jump out the window” my husband would be more than willing to accept my whimsical ways.
Consistency, not fairy tales of unending romance, makes marriage worth it. I know that if I am having a bad day, my husband is only a phone call away, makes suffering through that dinner party story for a 1,987th time worth it. A spouse who always has my back and is extremely supportive reassures me on those days where I wonder if I married the right man. I once described marriage as having your own 24/7 hype man. Everyone wants the hype but very few are willing to accept the hardships that come associated with it.
You probably still won’t believe me.
You may be a single person reading this and rolling your eyes. You’ve heard it all before. You think it’s easy to talk about the difficulties of marriage when you’re no longer dealing with the struggles of dating and singlehood. Like those before me, I’ll laugh and say “you’ll see.” I’ll leave you with this: marriage is one of those situations that you cannot fully understand it unless you are in it and by then you’re in too deep. there is no way to be prepared for what’s to come.
I always tell my friends “marriage is the best and worst thing you can ever do in your life.” The days where I am wondering what fool would ever agree to marriage, I am comforted by thought of “trouble don’t last always.” Wisdom has taught me that we may be in bad space now but tomorrow is a brand new day of second chances. A belief that you only need love doesn’t birth the maturity required to believe in the hope of tomorrow during a low point in marriage. Even though the usual suspects of trust, communication, loyalty, and excitement makes marriage successful, you cannot gain any of these things without a healthy dose of reality.
Marriage is not for the faint of heart. Marriage is hard as hell cannot be perfected but it is totally worth it. Marriage is a wonderful, frustrating enigma of paradoxes so proceed with caution because only the strong will survive.
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