A happy marriage is about three things: remembering the good times, forgiving the bad times and promising to never give up on each other. ~ Surabhi Surendra
In case it’s not crystal clear from the title of this series, I am an amateur wife with little to offer in the way of tried and tested knowledge and advice. I’m just a newly-wed woman trying to figure out this marriage thing.
The purpose of this series is to chronicle what I hope will be a journey filled with character down the marriage path. Will I fall flat on my face here and there? I have no doubt. Will I get some things right? Absolutely. Will I spend majority of the time winging it? Probably. Maybe one day my daughter will read this and she may not have to wing a thing or two. Who knows? The little that I know for certain is that I am absolutely in love with my person and I would choose him again and again and again.
All of this is to say, here goes nothing…
My wedding was surreal. I married the right man, at the right time, at the perfect venue, in the perfect dress, in not-quite-perfect shoes (smh), surrounded by our nearest and dearest. It was better than my imagination.
The honeymoon….there are no words to adequately capture its perfection.
Lots of sex; just enough adventure; delightful food; a premium hotel right on the beach; perfect weather; excellent service; perfect colour and perfect company. Do yourself a favour a make Mauritius a bucketlist destination. For 7 whole days, the world as we knew it faded into the background and an idyllic existence was our reality.
We organised our wedding and honeymoon like a well-oiled machine. The day after we returned from the honeymoon we moved in together for the first time and it was…weird. Not the description you were expecting? Me neither. *chuckles*
It was weird in an undefined manner. It was neither good or bad. It was more like the wedding was done and the marriage was starting and neither one of us knew what exactly that entailed.
Make no mistake, we went into marriage armed to the teeth with a family constitution, books on marriage, books on understanding women, books on understanding men, books on love languages, blogs, anecdotes, pre-marital counselling, endless mountains of advice from all corners: good, bad, theoretical, idealist, pessimistic, practical, realistic, helpful, useless, sexist, traditionalist, modernist, feminist, Christian, religious, atheist, psycho-babble…. the list goes on and on and then a little longer.
Despite all of that, there I was… feeling weird. Of course, my natural reaction was to keep it to myself. Why was I feeling weird? Would it pass? Why was the feeling undefined? I examined myself through and through. The more I examined myself, the more I overthought it and consequently, the more worried I became. What was going on in his head, I wondered? Could he tell that I was feeling odd? Was he feeling odd too? *gasp!* Why? Was it me? Should I try to appear a little more perky? Wait, was I even acting normal? May I could try for more normal. So, I did. It didn’t help. I was feeling slowly but surely crushed by the weight of some imagined, undefined expectation. It was stressing me out.
What’s bizarre to me is that all of that, as big as it was in my own head, was happening in the background of normal life. We still laughed and talked and loved and went on date night. I tried to figure out how to mix being a wife with my workaholic work schedule. He tried to adjust to wearing a ring every day. I bought bedsheets and he bought a hosepipe *chuckles.* So 1920s of us.
Meanwhile, in my head, I became more and more tense. My body and mind started taking strain towards the end of the first month. I still couldn’t define why I felt weird and that’s trying for a Type A personality. As if that wasn’t enough, I started feeling guilty. I felt guilty because I didn’t understand why I was struggling or what I was struggling against. Was I a bad wife in month 1??? WTH was happening?
The more I fed those thoughts and feelings, the harder it became to be myself. I unconsciously started tip-toeing around him and naturally, that added tension to the equation. Cue the nightmares. The extreme kind. I’m talking serial killers and gang rapes here. I slept poorly and became tired and lethargic.
The vortex was sucking me in.
The turning point came unexpectedly in the wee hours of yet another sleepless night. As I lay there, I had the overwhelming sense that he wasn’t asleep even though he looked like he was. Very softly I said, “are you struggling with figuring this thing out as much as I am?”
His eyes opened immediately. He stared at me for a long moment. I wondered if I should have remained silent. Was saying it out loud some sort of admission of failure? 1 month in. Isn’t this supposed to be the honeymoon phase? Seriously! Even worse was the thought that he was judging me? My brain ran a mile in a second.
“Yes.” He finally replied. “Yes, I am.”
Relief washed over me in pounding waves that threatened to overwhelm me. “What are you feeling,” I asked? Weird, he replied. Me too, I said. We both sat up and we talked and talked and talked. We talked until the wee hours of the morning. The overwhelming realisation was that we had both been so busy trying to figure it out on our own that we didn’t notice the other experiencing the same. We just needed to talk each other through it.
This is the part where the need to realise that you are now on the same team all the time comes in. At halftime, after a particularly poor first half hockey performance, our coach yelled at us “what is wrong with you? Has everyone lost their voice? It’s like a f***** graveyard out there. Why aren’t you talking to each other?” We went back onto the field and in-between shouts of “I’m open,” “Chuwe’s leading,” “look wide,” “post!” and “man on,” we creamed the opposition. Talking allows you to manage emotions and head off a significant amount of potential conflict within yourself and with each other.
The next day I slept for 9 straight hours. Not one dream. Bliss!
It was the beginning of a lot of long talks about random things and feelings and changes and life at random times that characterised month 2.
Although we knew the theory when we went in, no one can teach you or even really prepare you for the practical. No magic fairy appears to tell you which advice to apply i the moment. You have to choose to figure it out together. Regardless of how much you love each other, if you put 2 adults who have established themselves, each one coming from having their own home, with a pre-existing set of habits and very used to plenty of personal space and life on their own terms then emotional and habitual adjustment is inevitable.
That is absolutely ok.
Month 3 has seen us establish a working routine and really starting to settle into this life-together business. We are becoming familiar with each other’s daily habits and it can be just as hilarious as it can be trying. You should have seen his reaction when he came home to find I had bought a mannequin head and I was making a wig while watching a Youtube instruction video.
It is important to remember that, like any relationship between 2 people, this is merely a snap shot (frozen in time) of one aspect of a complex, fluid system with very many faces. All present, all alive and all carrying on in tandem with each other regardless of what is happening with one.