I got married later in life by most social standards. It allowed me a false sense of maturity going into my marriage. I would get the question over and over again, mainly from older women, “Why haven’t you been married yet?” It angered me. I hadn’t been married yet because I didn’t want to marry the men before. I thought that was the end of infuriating comments aimed at marriages by the “more experienced.” I was wrong.
I was married on August 2, 2014. It was lovely. My husband and I had a simple relationship full of blunt conversations and lots of laughter. We never had to wonder what the other was thinking. We were headed into a life of bliss. My husband and I would talk about how happy and easy life was, and over and over people kept saying, “Wait till the honeymoon is over.” Instant rage filled my veins.
Did they want to see us unhappy or worse, did they want to see us fail? It seemed so grim. It felt like they were saying, “Just wait, you’ll hate each other soon enough.” Our first anniversary, I was 5 days out from having Birdie, I very confidently and naively said, “Honeymoon’s over. I still think you’re awesome. They were wrong.”
“Wait till the honeymoon is over” is a common phrase usually aimed at the first year of marriage. We throw it around like confetti, and since the days that confetti was thrown at me, I’ve wanted to respond.
We are heading on four years of marriage, and in those four years, a folder I have had on my phone and in my computer for years took a change. The folder is titled “musings.” I write letters never to be sent and stories never to be told, but over the last year the folder was filled with discontented musings about the trappings of being a wife. The more I wrote, the better I felt. Was this it? Was the honeymoon over?
I read back on these and the first one breaks my heart the most,
“... But here I am. I love my husband. But it’s a love that’s a noun and an adjective right now. I keep looking for the verb. The passion inside me to push that love into action. The verb is lost. I’m lost and sometimes feel swallowed whole in my marriage.
I don’t long for another relationship. I don’t long for another person. But I don’t necessarily long for my marriage either. I wonder if my desire to provide a strong stable home for my youngest has been the only thing keeping me here. I never wanted to be a wife.”
This is the first musing I wrote about my marriage. Within it, I told the story of our meeting. I admitted that what I had fallen in love with, I had come to resent. I talked about the grief I felt for a friendship I thought I had lost. I spoke of hopelessness. I didn’t want our life together to be a life of discontented writings. No doubt eventually that discontentment would seep out of my phone and into real life. Truth be told, sometimes it did when the girls weren’t looking. So we started doing something about it.
- My husband and I paid attention to what the other was NOT saying out loud.
- We forced ourselves to have really uncomfortable conversations. To this day, those conversations are some of my favorite.
- We went on dates.
- We kept giving hugs, even when our kids were not looking.
- We let go of the expectations. Maybe I should clarify this one, I LET GO OF EXPECTATIONS. My husband is NOT responsible for fulfilling my hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
- We work on ourselves, for ourselves. Therapy has been a friend of mine for a while that I never quite gave the gratitude it deserved.
- We offer and ASK for grace when we know it’s needed. (My personal favorite bullet point.)
- We have our own things. We do them without each other or we can do them with each other, but they are our own.
- We are working really hard on not parenting each other. We are both pretty alpha. We can’t win it all.
It is these little things that lead to texts like this:
My husband and I are a flawed duo. We are difficult people and regularly call the other person insufferable, but our love is active. We strive for it. We demand it to be active. We settle for nothing less than the best possible love, and when the love falls a bit short, that’s when grace comes in. We didn’t get to this point without a bit of work, a bit of nudging, and some amazing therapists (but that’s a story for another day).
The honeymoon is over, but the life beyond is something pretty special if you allow the grace in.