There’s a sense of “otherness” about growing up. A sense of mystery and mystique about words like “boyfriend,” “husband,” “motherhood,” “marriage,” “sex,” and “living together.” We all know it. And we all equally know that our own expectations are massively overblown, if only because relationships and life events in movies get underscored brilliantly by James Newton Howard or Philip Glass and a personal soundtrack is much harder to attain in real life.
So we get a little bitter or grumpy about those who have crossed to the “other side” and we sigh and imagine how idyllic their lives must be. Even though we probably understand life well enough to know better.
When I was in high school and college, all the bitterness and longing of other girls and boys (my age, older, and younger) just made me sad. So I tried to be the voice of “hey, but remember how cool life is anyway?” and “shoot girl, you don’t need a boyfriend to be happy” but I suspect that made me come across as obnoxious to a lot of people. I learned how to nod sympathetically and BE sympathetic and I’m still learning that “I want to talk to you about this” DOES NOT EQUAL “what are your thoughts/advice on this?”
During our engagement, during the planning and waiting and frustrated nights of just wanting to lie in the same bed together while we slept, my fiance admitted that he hated being engaged. I couldn’t blame him. He’d been doing all kinds of growing up, and making all kinds of life sacrifices, and being engaged is pretty much like being married without any of the perks.
I had to constantly beat down his expectations about so many things. I had to remind him over and over that attaining this status of “marriage” and getting a wife wasn’t going to fill the void in his life where dissatisfaction likes to creep in. That void ALWAYS exists. Saying, “I’ll be happy when I just finally get my own space” or “I just need to release some of this sexual frustration and then I’ll be OK” is honestly to kid yourself.
Last night was the first time since we’ve been married that my husband expressed a significant amount of frustration and dissatisfaction with life. “I hate waking up, working, doing school, and going to sleep.” We’ve been married for 19 days, and he already feels those tendrils of dissatisfaction creeping back into his life. He already feels the weight of the journey he’s on as not only a full-time worker and student, but now also husband and co-provider of our new family. And it’s true. Full-time work and school leaves little room for anything else. It’s true, working in the home (like he does) gives him ridiculous cabin fever. It’s true, my need for sleep reduces our time together to a mere five or six hours a day – when we have nothing else going on. But there’s
fellowship with our small group,
and the list goes on forever.
My personal reflections on marriage (after 19 days) is nothing but “thank goodness, it was about time for this.” We occasionally just laugh and geek out about how we can eat, watch, do, or say whatever we want. We picked out our own furniture, buy our own food, and invite over whomever we want. This phase is such a relief and an excitement and just downright fun after living so long in mostly-independence and gradually accruing skills and knowledge that I can finally put to use under my own supervision and responsibility. I can feel myself growing and stretching into more than I was before.
But in such normal ways, about normal things. We’ve not got immediate plans to fly to Paris or go on a kayaking spree or anything young and fun and crazy. It was cause for celebration when my social security card came in the mail, and we had time to watch a whole movie before I had to go to bed. Baby steps, you know.
So yes, I’m All Married And Stuff and I have my own space and it’s so welcome and I’m really digging it. But it’s just normal life. It’s “I don’t have any clean socks” and driving around in circles trying to find a UPS drop-box and…you know…normal stuff.
Oh, but if only I can find time to get rid of the unpacked boxes crowding my bedroom floor…
<right. baby steps. right.>