Love, Marriage and a Reality Check

Husband has a college friend who recently got married within the last two-ish months.  He and his wife are both, in my opinion, two of the nicest and friendliest people I know.  They’re both huge social butterflies and seem to be able to get along with almost anybody with ease.  I have always thought they were one of the couples most likely to “succeed”.  I HOPE you all know what I mean by that.  I’m not saying I sit here and call out couples who shouldn’t be married. (Ok… yes, I have..)  I’m saying I always thought they were so naturally and perfectly matched that it was obvious they would have an easy, happy and successful marriage.

Their wedding was a grand and beautiful occasion at one of the biggest and most beautiful churches I’ve been to.  They were practically drowning in family traditions through the whole occasion and both sides of the family couldn’t have been happier.  The happiest two, of course, were the Bride and Groom.  They were finally there.  The day they had worked so hard towards making the happiest, most beautiful perfect day of their lives thus far.

I’ll admit, I don’t usually cry at weddings, but this one got even me teary eyed it was so sweet.  I was so convinced of their happily ever after.  They were going to get a big house, and have lots of babies and their kids were going to be the sweetest, best tempered cutest things on the planet.  they were going to be perfectly happy for ever and ever and ever.

Husband sent a text to his friend the other day to ask how he’s doing and how he’s liking married life and suggested they come over for a few drinks sometime soon.  His friend replied, “Amen.  I could use a drink because married life is killing me!”  Husband came to me laughing and told me about this causing me to laugh so hard I went into a coughing fit.  It was half laughter at his sarcastic comment, and half laughter at myself for looking over the obvious for these two.  Of COURSE it’s killing him.  Nobody is so perfectly matched that marriage is a piece of cake!

This got husband and I talking about our relationship.  He laughed and asked me, “Remember the first six months after we got married?”  I chuckled in response.  Ooooooh yes.  I remembered, all right.  The first six months were a nightmare!  I thought I wanted to kill him at least every other day!

I had always heard that marriage is difficult to adjust to at first, and I didn’t think we’d be an exception.  I just never imagined that we’d get on each other’s nerves that much!  It didn’t help that we never lived with each other before hand either.  I always thought that one of our biggest strengths was that we talked about everything before marriage.  How to manage our money, whether or not we want kids, how we want to raise our kids, how we spend our money, how to talk things out, how we’ll do things around the house once we live together and so on.  Even with months of planning and talking, it still didn’t prepare us for the reality of it.  It didn’t prepare us for how much of an adjustment it really seriously is.

Over the first six months, we had to learn how to manage our money for REAL, not just in the ideal world.  Thankfully we went into the marriage with no credit card debt, and our school loans were manageable.  Even so, we would both be dipping into our checking account for things and one of us wouldn’t record it and we would almost overdraw.  That, or I’d pay a bill and not tel him and he’d pay it too.  Or there was the, “Did you pay this bill?”  “No, I thought you paid it!” conversation.  The list goes on.  It took us a good long time before we found a system that really worked.

Our personal senses of decoration and cleanliness were a huge factor for us, too.  He was a guy in college, so he wanted to put up crap that looked like I was walking into a nightmare.  Giant stop signs and deer antlers and so on.  I wanted to put up pretty things.  Lots and lots of pretty things.  He wasn’t having that.  At one point, while we lived in downtown Milwaukee in a small apartment, he wanted to hang our bikes from the ceiling in our bedroom because it was more convenient.  That didn’t go over well.  At all.

Then, there’s one of our favorite arguments to date.  This is the angriest we have ever been at each other.  Ever.
We had just moved out of the city and into a decent two bedroom apartment.  After like a week or two, husband still hadn’t put away his bathroom stuff and left it sitting out on the counter.  Three or four things of shaving cream, razors, a bunch of different cologne, toothbrush and contact and glasses stuff.  All kinds of junk.  Finally I told him he had to go put it away because it looked like crap in there.  He responded that he thought it was fine.  I got a little irritated and asked him how he thought all that clutter was fine?  He shrugged and asked me why I got to leave my stuff sitting out but he couldn’t.  He was referring to my perfume and hairspray and makeup etc I had sitting against the back of the counter on my side of the sink.  I rolled my eyes and told him I actually used my stuff regularly and I put away my razors and personal stuff.  Then I told him to go clean up his side of the counter.  He went in there, then came back out less than a minute later and said he was done.  I looked at him suspiciously wondering why he did it so fast, and went into the bathroom to see what he did with it.  He had just pushed everything to the back of the counter like my stuff was.  I FREAKED OUT.  Husband is a very non-confrontational person, so he always makes his points through nonverbal actions instead.  I caught this non-verbal point loud and clear.  Oooooooh I was pissed.  I charged out of the bathroom and asked him WHAT he was trying to say?  He only shrugged and said he wanted to be able to leave his crap out if I could do it.  I went off on him about him making his stupid non-verbal points and told him to grow up and stop being a slob.  We went back and forth for a good 20 minutes before he finally stomped away, furious with me and went into the bathroom.  I followed him, still yelling nonsense at the back of his head.  He opened one drawer and literally swept half of the pile into the drawer and slammed it.  He opened his second drawer and swept that dramatically into the drawer and slammed that one closed.  That led me into another furious rant about something completely unrelated, but equally infuriating.  Soon we were arguing over anything and everything that came into our heads. “Why don’t you put the mat down in the bathroom?!”  “Why do you always eat all the ice cream?!” “Why can’t you make the bed in the morning?!” “Why can’t you clean up after yourself in the kitchen?!”  “Why do you always use my MP3 player without asking?!” “Why do you spend so much money on that?!” It ended in me yelling, in tears, “Why can’t you be more supportive!?  I hate this non-verbal crap you pull!”  He went silent and slammed around in the kitchen and I stomped away to pretend to be busy with something else.  Finally, when bedtime came, we still weren’t speaking.  We had drawn ourselves paper-thin and even the wrong look was going to lead us to committing murder.  He slammed himself into bed and rolled over refusing to face me.  I grabbed my pillow, crying angrily to myself, and stormed out of the room and set up some blankets on the floor in our second bedroom.  I couldn’t even LOOK at him I was so angry.  I laid there in the dark seething and boiling in rage, working myself up even more over the things that got me so upset.  About 20 minutes later, I heard the door open and husband came in.  He laid down behind me and cuddled up into me and put his arm around me.  I scowled, “What are you doing, go away.”  He replies, “I’m non-verbally supporting you.”

Oh my GOD.  I couldn’t help it.  I cracked up laughing.  The irony of that sentence just killed me.  All the anger went out of me and we both just started laughing over how ridiculously angry we got at each other.  I called him a slob, he called me controlling and we just laid there on the spare bedroom floor laughing at each other.

I think it was that argument that really made our marriage click.  It was our reality check.  We knew we both loved each other unconditionally, but it took this fight to really accept that we needed to embrace the bad as well as the good.  We finally accepted each other for who we were in this marriage.  We stopped trying so hard to make the other one understand why our way of doing things was better.  I’m good at my stuff, and he’s good at his stuff.  Soon we grew so comfortable in our routine that we began to enjoy the good things in our marriage and floated over the bad with humor.

We utilized humor in our marriage for so many things.  We use it for the obvious good things, but also for the bad.  We rail on each other’s bad habits, we make fun of each other for stupid mistakes, we laugh at each constantly.  We pick on each other non-stop almost every single day.  The thing is that we both end up laughing and smiling together because of it.  We’re very aware of our bad habits so they’ve just become a running joke for us.  We will still have real arguments, but it’s getting to be a very rare occurrence in our house.

We have learned that no matter how much you plan and talk things out, you’re going to fight.  No matter how well matched you are, or how likely you are to succeed, you’re still going to fight.  But it’s not the fighting that you should worry about, it’s how you handle it and how you move forward.  We realized we couldn’t let a cluttered bathroom counter get in between us.  We make fun of each other constantly and we occasionally argue, but we always make sure to come out of it smiling and just as dedicated to one another as we were on the day we got married.  Non-verbally or otherwise.

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