So me and my husband are playing Yahtzee the other night. I have rolled a truly crap hand, and we’re discussing where to put my pithy number on the scoreboard. I decided a zero for Yahtzee, and my husband is genuinely aghast. He is a Yahtzee guy whereas I am very aware of the fact that I am not a Yahtzee lady. It is one of the many reasons I married him. If you have two people that are prone to Yahtzee, you have an unhealthy power dynamic and if neither of you ever roll a Yahtzee life is gonna be really hard. As we are discussing this the Mo Fo rolls a Yahtzee. Point in case.
This really prompted me to contemplate our marriage. I do believe that there needs to be balance to create harmony in marriage. That does not mean me and my husband are totally opposites, but it does mean that in small every day occurrences I feel overwhelmed and my husband just flows, where as in the emergency situations I’m cool as a cucumber and able to take the lead. I think the thing about marriage is to be aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Because the reality is his marriage is Hard, with a capital H. I don’t think this fact talked is talked about enough. Marriage is sold to us as finding the one person to complete everything in your life that up to that point has been missing. That you will agree on everything, and life will be sunshine and peaches. That’s a load of garbage that is force fed to us by Disney. Marriage is a hostage situation, a conscious battle of wills, paired with intention, and love.
I happened to grow up in a family where marriage was not the norm. There were very few male role models in my own life. I was raised by women and had little to look forward to when thinking of marriage. So as a young adult I didn’t necessarily have high hopes in the realm of love. I was wooed from a young age by many boys, and all of it seemed so unnecessary. So when I was 19 and a dude with a killer mohawk asked me to marry him I said yes. We seemed to have similar viewpoints on life, love, marriage, and he was a barista so I could drink all the free coffee I wanted. The thing was it sounded more like an arranged marriage, and since arranged marriages have a higher success rate then marriages based on love it seemed like a no brainer to me.
Didn’t really work out. Turns out when you get married after two weeks you actually know nothing about a person. 6 months later this man told me we were getting divorced on the day he was supposed to meet my mother for the first time, bought the dog I wanted, and evicted me from the apartment that we were living in. Not a high point in my life.
I spent a long time after that just dating. Not really committing to anything too serious, and happily living my life. During that time I really got to know myself better. I started to have ideas about the person I wanted to be and the life that I want to live. And I started to make steps to make those changes for myself. Backpacking around the country, trying different jobs, trying to figure it all out. I knew that being with a particular person wasn’t going to fulfill me, that I needed to be happy with myself first. What I did not realize I was actually doing the work necessary for marriage.
I found myself in northern Vermont volunteering, at the farm where we live now, when I met my husband. We met via online dating, on a joke profile a friend made based on a flippant comment I made at breakfast one morning. This man responded to an ad that said ”I am looking for a vegetarian lumberjack, astronaut cowboy, firefighting cowboy, all others need not apply. Unless you are a ten out of ten.”
Obviously, anyone spending a lifetime with me needs a sense of humor.
When we met for the first time I felt like I had known him all my life, as if he had been on my journey with me and I was just finally looking into his eyes. And I knew then and there that this is the man that I would marry.
Now having found an amazing partner does not make marriage easy. We still have to intentionally strive each day to be compassionate, understanding, committed, interested etc. If we start to take each other for granted it all goes downhill. At times I have to look at him and find three things I appreciate about him because he is being a real wanker and I am starting to forget why we are cohabitating. Or he tells me that I am not giving him a welcome when he comes home, I am just barking orders at him and he needs something different, some warmth. I gladly hear this feedback for a few reasons. One I think a sign of healthy marriage is when each partner can air their grievances in safety. Two if I am doing this to him I am probably doing it to other people. Three I want my home to be a warm and loving place. And four I don’t ever want him to think for a second that I am not over the moon when he comes home.
Without a doubt marriage is hard. It is the hardest thing next to parenting I have ever done. But each struggle and differing of opinions is an opportunity to recommit to this marriage, to this person. I know that there are days that I fail but I take solace in the fact that I get to try again the next day, and I afford that same trust and growth to him as well.
So if things right now are hard in your marriage, or relationship, that just means your doing it right. Don’t lose hope. Each struggle is an opportunity to better understand each other, to strive toward co-dependence, to recommit to this relationship. Don’t be scared of the hard stuff, go towards it together.