can i be honest? i usually dont even bother asking, but this one's kind of gritty. ok, ready? our marriage is kind of sucky right now. i would even say its pretty shitty. before i get into this, let me say that i love jesse more than any person, place, thing, animal, or mineral on earth. marrying him is the best decision i ever made and we will be married until we die. there is no questioning either of these facts. turns out, this doesnt mean its going to be easy or fun or even tolerable until then.
i can remember back when we were dating and engaged EVERYONE saying how hard marriage is, and i really, REALLY, REALLY, took that to heart and believed them 100% and tried to figure out why that might be the case so i could be prepared and ready to fight it. i guess i just couldnt get there in my head. the best thing that i could figure was that maybe it was because marriage is forever and there's no escape once your in so problems that maybe were solved before by saying, "well if it gets bad, i can just break up with him," all of a sudden are problems that you are going to deal with for 70 years. that could be stressful. but, i mean, when we were dating and engaged i knew 100% we'd be together forever and we would get married, so the problems we faced then, i was already looking at with a 70 year perspective...the ball and chain were already locked in, the escape route burned. so it wasnt going to be that way for us.... if that was what people meant.
little did they know...
well, apparently that was not what they meant. we got married and things did get hard. like really hard. like nuclear blowouts. i was never meek in dating and we definitely fought before marriage, but nothing like this. people would ask how married life was, and i became one of "them" and would reply, "it's awesome, but its really really hard." and i couldn't really explain to them why it was so hard. problems and issues that we dealt with while we were dating all of a sudden became insurmountable obstacles in marriage. it just didnt make sense. i think it hit me one day what the difference was though; for us at least. there was just something so inexplicable about what was happened. we werent doing anything differently than we did when we were dating (except for that...which made life easier, actually) and yet it was just so much freaking harder and emotionally wearing, and it really didnt seem to be coming from us.
the day after our wedding, on our honeymoon. my shirt says "just married." hahaha there's no such thing as "just" married anymore.
i have never been the type of person to blame "satan" for things. knowing myself, i would just use it as a cop out. i mean, who better to blame than the biggest asshole of all time that even jesus didnt like? but i think i figured out that a marriage for two people who love jesus is way more than a fancy party you go to and promise things and then add in some sex to the exact same life you were living before. marriage is god's. he invented it and wants to protect it. so naturally the devil wants to fuck marriage up (sorry for the language, but it is literally that devious and despicable, what he wants to do to us).
by getting married and entering into a spiritual agreement with each other's souls and the creator of those souls, our relationship pops up on the devil's radar as a threat. i mean two people who love jesus and want to spread love and peace and hope and grace all over the world joining as one inside the creator himself is a pretty big missile being pointed straight at everything the devil loves. our college campus minister, rick, says, "if youre being attacked by the devil, you know youre in the game; when youre not doing anything to interfere with his plans, he leaves you alone. thats when you should be scared." getting married was us buying into the big game. and we were like fat kids on a paintball course and got our asses lit up. luckily we have amazing parents and friends who model loving, graceful and forgiving marriage for us and who pray faithfully for and counsel us.
get ready for the real storm
things got really great for us after about 6-9 months of marriage. we learned how to play as a team and fight fair and how to choose love in the really hard moments. we still got it wrong at least 50% of the time, but man, every time we got it right was like a square inch of our hearts being transformed into jesus's. it feels so freaking amazing to be the one to stop the petty fighting and give up and just say, "you're right, i love you more than anything and i am so sorry for my part in this." without fail the other one always follows right after and the majority of the fight is disintegrated. but in the moment, taking that leap out into space is so scary; letting down that pride and desire to win is the hardest thing in the world, even knowing how wonderful it feels to do so. i think that has the satan's stank-ass fingerprints all over it.
so then we had a baby (did you know?). even though we didnt make any vows about this one in front of our friends and family, we sure as hell have given this child to god in spirit over and over again already. we have marked him as the ransomed property of our king, and that is just a whole 'nother spiritual ball of wax. the bullseye on our backs that the devil aims at got even bigger. i think judah will have to bear this bullseye as our child when he is older, but for now, the best thing that satan can do to mess up our child is to mess with our marriage. and boy is he.
stay the hell out of our garden, devil
i prayed during pregnancy that god would magically make me laid back, to suspend my Type-A certificate. apparently he has another route in mind. since judah, there are a billion things that need to be done around the house and in our lives. from washing a million little bottle pieces to loving and nurturing the babe himself. i am a control freak so i have a very specific way of how and when i think these tasks should be carried out. obviously my way is the most efficient way, my timing the most perfect, my poop the most fragrant. and when jesse doesnt magically guess this intricate tap dance of steps and carry them out to completion, i take it personally. i take it as him trying to slack off, make me a doormat, not listen to me, disrespect me, or a million other crimes i write him up for in my head and make him pay for in infinitely creative and emotionally tortuous methods that make Abu Graihb look like Club Med.
this is slowly but surely sucking the love out of our marriage. you would think it would be just jesse realizing i am a bitch and hating me like he should while i feel great about my domineering self and maintain a firm grip on my kingdom. but its not. i am miserable too. i am making us both a prisoner of my sins. and judah too. thats the heartbreaking thing. this WILL mess him up if i continue. i WILL do these same things to him when he doesnt wipe his butt right or put his fingerpaint in the right place. its almost laughable to imagine that, but the things that are life and death matters to me that i make jesse's life hell over are just as minuscule.
Jennifer McKinnon is a giant in the world of mommy blogging. she is known as mckmama on her blog and writes from the unique perspective of a mom of 4 kids under 5 who loves jesus and is a total hippie. in addition, her youngest child, now 10 month old stellan, "should have" died in the womb or shortly after from a terrible heart affliction. she and her husband were going through a very rough patch in their marriage after finding out about stelln's medical issues when he was in the womb. she wrote about their stuff in a way that NAILED the core of where jesse and i are right now (we arent to the part where things start working out yet, just the part where she realizes the problem). the entire post is here but i really just got blown away by this portion. you can literally replace "prince charming" with "jesse." i added the bold
God has gone from whispering in my ear and tapping me on my shoulder to gently shaking me with both hands and speaking directly in my face: "Don't try to demand your way, my daughter! Stop fabricating rules that your husband must follow before you'll let yourself be happy. Quit seeking happiness in your marriage by trying to find meaning and emotion in every single cotton pickin' thing your husband does or doesn't do. Just relax. Just be. Just serve me with your marriage. Prince Charming can never make you ultimately happy, anyway. Being happy isn't the goal I even created marriage to help my children attain! Find a true joy, my daughter, a sustainable peace in your marriage from letting go of your need to control your husband and meet him in the middle in all decisions, big and small. Give him leeway to lead you, for I have put your Prince Charming in that role for you.
"Okay, God. If You say so."
And, to be honest, at first, when God struck me with these principles (I was struck with them through reading the Bible, reading books on marriage, talking things through with my sister and mother, seeing a marriage counselor and developing beautiful relationships with a small handful of more mature mentor wives who have befriended me), I was a bit dethroned. I was willing, but I dragged my heels. "Okay, okay," it was as if I told God. "I will stop requiring my husband to make me happy, stop sulking when he doesn't use exactly the right tone I wanted him to use, stop reminding him of all the big and small ways he is not succeeding in making me happy. I will. But then, that will really stink. I'll just be unhappy all the time, while I honor You. I mean, honoring You is great, but what about me!? I'll be like a doormat, letting my husband do and say whatever he wants, while I have to overlook it just to obey you."
And I was prepared to do just that, because God was asking me to follow Him without any promises of how I would feel or what I would get in return.
But lo and behold, friends, when I gave up my claim to require Prince Charming to serve me before I would love him back...when I gave up my so-called right to be made happy by my husband in all things...then I began to find something ever so much better than fleeting happiness. I have begun to find an unspeakable peace, an enduring joy and a lasting satisfaction within my marriage.
In surrendering my need to be fulfilled by another human being, I thought I'd be left with a bit of a hollow feeling. But the opposite has been true! In fact, I was just telling Prince Charming yesterday that I feel a weightless freedom that I have never known before. To not require him to meet my happiness needs doesn't leave me feeling unhappy; I feel happier and freer than ever! I simply choose to stay in my marriage now. I am choosing to not force Prince Charming to try to fulfill me or meet my happiness needs. I have been finding so much lasting joy in loving Prince Charming because I decide to, and not always waiting for my feelings to lead me to love him. The feelings come, though, my friends. Oh, boy, do the feelings come.
Forsake myself and my desires, follow God by putting Prince Charming first, choose to seek to make him happy instead of myself, and it all flows back down. His desires are becoming mine and we are enjoying life as a team now. My husband can hardly wait to meet my needs, now that I am not demanding that he do so! He sees my side of things ever so much more than he ever has. I respect him, he loves me, God is honored all around, and truly, everyone wins! And man alive am I as hot for my charming husband as I have ever been since the day we married each other.
um, yes please. i'll have what she's having. as in a marriage where i am not putting effort into making everyone, including myself, miserable. as in, the ability to let go and honor my husband for the incredible man he is and be loved in return. as in the power to be free and honor god by our marriage rather than myself by having my idiotic whims fulfilled.
now when i hear kids who have been dating a few months say "i love you" to each other, i kind of just smile, because you really have no idea what that word even means until you are married and have fought gritty, dirty battle to keep your marriage out of the hands of history's biggest fuckface (again, sorry, but its true.) i'm sure i will look back at this point years from now and think the same thing again, that i still had no idea what love really meant, but thats great too because that just means we have all these years to learn how to love each other better and better until we get to the place where its done as it was originally intended for all eternity.
our first dance at our wedding was to ben harper's "happy ever after in your eyes" and its exactly what i hope we get out of this; not happy always, but a dream in our hearts to wake up to every day and happy ever after at the end of it all. its a really cool picture of our little 3-man team with jesse and me and god and what he has promised us in this life and the next as well as what jesse and i promised each other when we got married. i promise i am going to work really hard to do my part of backing off and letting god work out his glory in my life, marriage, and family.
every star in the night
promises the dawn
i will be there if you fall
to ever so heavily rest upon
all that I can give you
is forever yours to keep
wake up everyday with a dream
and happy ever after in your eyes
happy ever after is in your eyes