Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Beautiful Mess

Alex and my two year anniversary is coming up this November. I can't believe it has almost been two years already. I also can't believe how drastically our relationship has changed in the last two years, and we still have many many many more to come.

After some recent conversations with good friends (married and single) I have realized that there is such a miscommunication about what marriage is like. We always hear how "hard" it is. I'm not sure there is a more vague description. It is so much more than just hard, at least in my experience. Marriage is a constant struggle to find each other, yourself, and God. It is painful and yet, rewarding. It is a wonderful, fun, peaceful, fulfilling, most difficult thing that you can ever experience. Or at least I believe it can be. It definitely is not perfect every day nor is it constantly full of emotional love. It is more natural and real than that. Love is just a fact. It is always there, but not always felt. And I don't believe this is in any way a bad thing.

On top of all the pressures of being married, there is this horrible stigma of arguing. Since divorce rates are so high, it seems like many couples are just out there trying to beat the odds. And it seems as though fighting has been the blame of divorce, or at least that is how if feels for newlyweds. We are so scared to argue because we think that other people will think we made a mistake, or will not think we are right together or they will say "I knew they should have waited". But don't you think it should be normal for couples to fight? Especially in the first few years of marriage? You are two completely different people with different backgrounds who have usually made many mistakes. We all have our own pasts and our parents mistakes to overcome. We learn so many of our behaviors from our parents and we grow up in completely different houses, towns, sometimes even with different spiritual beliefs. Shouldn't it be ok and accepted to have some arguments? To do things "wrong" every now and then?

Women (at least in the Christian community) have become so consumed with not being the "overbearing controlling woman" that they have tried so hard to fight off all of their anger. As a woman I can say that sometimes I am completely irrational. Sometimes I get really angry about something that is incredibly stupid. In the very beginning of our marriage I had no idea that I could get so worked up over something so small and insignificant. Sometimes, when I got too angry, I would just lock myself up in the bedroom and not talk to Alex for hours. It wasn't because I was mad and he did something wrong and I felt like he should be punished, it was because I had no idea how to communicate to him how I was feeling, what I was thinking and why this small thing was such a huge deal to me. I usually felt like I was crazy. I was so concerned with people knowing that we fought and being a terrible wife, that I would get more insecure and irrational. Very very gradually, with much patients on Alex's part, I learned how to communicate in a healthier way. However, if we just stifle our anger and emotions, we can never get to the good stuff.

I am not trying to say that all arguing is great but I don't believe that fighting alone can ruin a marriage. I do believe that if one person is unwilling and refuses to accept their own faults and doesn't try to see the others point of view, that is how arguing can go bad. But if you aren't free to express anger and frustration in a healthy way, even if it looks a little ugly sometimes, how can you change and grow together? How can you love each other through "the good times and the bad" if you don't allow yourself to express your true emotions?

All of the married couples that I am amazed by, and who have been together for many years, argue. Not only that but they are incredibly honest about it and they don't even think it is a huge deal. These aren't the marriages where the woman says "I just had to learn to bite my tongue because I wanted to be the loving wife, and eventually I learned not to get upset with him." These are the ones that sometimes say "I literally thought I was going to kill him, but eventually we began to understand each other and the small issues became easier to work through."

Many people say that the most important thing in a marriage is communication, and I wholeheartedly believe this. It isn't about being "perfect for each other" "meant to be" or "the one". Those people get divorced too, and find new "ones". It is important for every couple to accept that sometimes things are going to be messy, and your relationship may never look like some other couple, and that is perfectly ok. If we are always trying to prove that we are happy and comparing ourselves to others, we are going to miss out on something so much deeper and more meaningful.