So we’re still talking marriage. I wrote a little yesterday about our love languages and how we may just be missing the boat on communicating love to our spouse. What if he was saying I love you in Greek and you were saying I love you in Italian and neither one of you understood what the other was saying and had no idea that you still loved each other? Sometimes, that is what is happening in our marriages. Isn’t it sad that we may each be trying to say I love you and it’s just not being understood? And how frustrating!
But another thing that is going on in our marriages, oftentimes, is an expectation that our marriage will be perfect. Or that at least that that there won’t be fighting. Or that fighting is a reflection of a weak marriage. So then one big fight and you start feeling doomed.
One last thing that’s plaguing a lot of our marriages is comparison shopping. Have you heard this? Or said this? My husband plays video games and hers doesn’t, she’s so lucky. My husband travels all the time for work and hers is home, she’s so lucky. My husband sits on the couch and doesn’t fix stuff at the house and hers is handy, she’s so lucky. And on and on and on. To devastating effect.
I’m reading a book on marriage, or I should say finishing a book on marriage I started years ago. Don’t you love that you get pulled along for the ride whenever I’m reading a new book? It’s called Surrendering to Marriage and the author breaks marriage up into three segments: The Malaise, The Choice, and The Surrendering. I’ve not finished it yet, but there’s so much good real stuff in it. On fighting, she says, “I still don’t like it but it is what it is, and to expect two opposite personalities, of different genders, to live without clashes in one house forever is ludicrous.” Ludicrous! Did you catch that? If you are never having fights, then you may actually be in more trouble than those of us fighting because there may not be any communicating going on!
I love this foundational nugget that she shares on comparison shopping, among other things, and that she readily acknowledges is not all romance and flowers but is truth:
My fantasy of marriage as the wellspring of contentment has completely disappeared, and so should yours. Thinking you get happiness ever after is a ticket to divorce. I’ll tell you the four things I now know about marriage, from my own transforming relationship and from conversations with other flummoxed spouses: A. Marriage can be hell; B. The grass is not greener on the other side; C. Savor the highs, because one thing you can count on – the dips are just around the corner; D. Nobody is perfect, so you may as well love the one you’re with…..Therefore, I surrender to this imperfect marriage, because I love it more than I hate it and I committed to this man with a promise that I need to, we all need to, do the best to fulfill.
Wow! As you know, I’m a girl who loves her romance. But I also love me some straight-talking. It doesn’t get more straight-talking than this. Look, marriage is hard. If you went in thinking it would be all champagne and moonlight, then disabuse yourself of that notion. There will be fights and dirty diapers and funerals and lost jobs and financial struggles and weight gain and moves and everything else. There will also be such goodness and happiness and joy and fulfillment, but that isn’t all. And if you hit a snag, it’s not the end. It’s a snag. I know we live in a culture of ME and a culture of immediacy, but marriage is not about ME or immediacy. It’s about the unit and the long term.
I don’t know where you are in your marriage today, but I wrote a year ago, and mean it more today, I won’t give up. Do not give up. The grass is not greener. Nobody is perfect (including you, and me). As I read in this book, and as I have experienced firsthand, “I have found that if I wait the squalls of marriage out, they always pass, and a softer wind blows through that makes me feel as if I’m the luckiest woman alive, to be with a partner who is fiercely devoted to me and our kids.”