I mourned Christmas this year.
I cried, I lamented, I pointed fingers at Kamel and said “Yoouuuu are the reaasssonnnn for my MISERY!” Because this was the first year that I didn’t go home.
Some people don’t care about this, some people are foot loose and fancy free, some people don’t do the same thing every year since they were 5, and that’s cool… but my family isn’t like that. I revel in tradition – and not the kind “we make ourselves”, I revel and look forward to the kind that I can depend on, the events I can recite in order with my eyes closed, and spun around 3 times fast. It’s dependable and safe, it’s comforting and it’s where memories are made and remembered.
But now my family has expanded and we’ve broken off a piece of family just for ourselves. And that’s complicated, and that’s what makes all of this not Kamel’s fault. It means I signed up for it, and that change is inevitable. And often a very, very good thing.
But I cried, and Kamel rubbed my back even when I said it was all his fault, and I flopped around, and Kamel didn’t even get snippy or frustrated, he just let me rant. And I said, “I hate this! I hate this! I’m missing everything!” and I said, “Why are we here? This is stupid! Christmas doesn’t even exist this year! It’s going to come and go and leave me behind!” And I said, “It’s all happening without me, and it doesn’t change anything.”
And then Christmas Eve came with just the two of us and it was nice. I would have rather been home, but what was happening instead wasn’t bad or awful, and it didn’t make me feel lonely. It was nice. And then Christmas came and we called all of our family and it was nice. I still felt connected, I still felt like the things I look forward to every year are still there, and will be there next year when it’s my turn again. That’s the good thing about tradition – it’s dependable, right? Well… until the next life event and then it’s all up in the air again. But I’ll burn that bridge when I cross it. (as Kamel always says… incorrectly. Ahem.)
But mostly this month has taught me a lot about marriage. Because this month was hard, it actually kind of sucked. Kamel was sick and crabby, I was feeling pissed off and inpatient about life, every thing he did seemed pointed and thoughtless, and every thing I did seemed like an over reaction. That lead to me not feeling heard and him feeling picked on. You know this tune. It has different keys but the same melody… or something like that. And it was the holidays, and there were things to be done under a time and money crunch, and there were plans to be made and clothes to be washed and people to be missed. It was the perfect storm of, “what the fuck did I get myself into with this whole marriage crap?” And a huge lesson for me.
Lesson: Compromise doesn’t mean you always get your way.
Hello. This does not seem like a genius realization, but guess what? It kind of is. Because when you think about marriage and compromise I bet 90% of you (and me) go “Oh yeah yeah yeah, we got this! Compromise! That’s old news!” But then the fine print of your brain says, “When I don’t actually mind either way, or when I can convince the other person that the things I want matter the most, or when the outcomes really and truly benefit both of us.” Ah yes, then it’s a piece of cake. Compromise, with a capital C, has nothing to do with agreeing on what movie to watch in theaters. Or what fancy electronic to buy, or what to have for dinner. When we’re talking a capital C, it turns out Compromise can be really really hard.
Sometimes compromise and submitting to the relationship means doing stuff that sucks, that hurts my feelings and makes me cry, that I’ll have to grit my teeth through for the benefit of my partner, it may mean I don’t win, or that I have to let Kamel have his way even when I think his way is stupid. Wow, that sounds super unappealing. Dear all engaged people: Sometimes marriage sucks.
But then after I get done throwing my fit, crying, stomping around waving a giant flag that says, “Fuck you!” … it turns out that my partner is still there, that I did this thing that sucks because I love him and knew that it was the right thing to do all along, and that it really wasn’t all that bad. And I say a little blessing that we have some ability for conflict resolution, that we have some avenue for communication, and that even during the times where I want to smother him to death with his own smugness, I know we’re both in it to win it every single day.
Merry Belated Christmas.