The Newlywed Game: Holiday Edition

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.

15 thoughts on “The Newlywed Game: Holiday Edition”

  1. Aww.. hugs to you both. It must have been hard. Sometimes you have planned things going and then life happens and you have to just deal with it. Even when we were going to be away from my family for the 3rd year in a row, I was kind of looking forward to the first christmas in our own little apartment, and we were going to have brother in law, mother in law, and grandma . I had planned all this things that I was going to cook (fruit cake, my mom’s spinach and ricotta lasagne, and chinese fondue) and we were having the nicest morning on the 24, listening to christmas carols, watching a movie, having spiced tea and preparing to cook, when about at 11, we received a phone call. And the boy’s grandma had something like a stroke (they still don’t know, but if I understood correctly it was some kind of micro bleeding in the brain) and we had to rush to the hospital. It was all very emotional, and stressful. Amidst all of it we moved the “xmas dinner” since we still had to eat to my mother in laws’ where we quickly set up the chinese fondue (luckily no real cooking involved) and we made sure mother in law did not have to do anything. It was still kind of a nice evening but one full with angst and uncertainty. Grandma is feeling better, we saw her yesterday, but she is still at the hospital in “observation” talking very little and sleeping most of the time. So… yes, I know what you mean, just be with each other, through the hard and difficult. And you will see your family soon enough (I hope) and you will be able to spend some valuable time with them.
    BTW we are going home ( to Mexico) in February and I asked my mom to make us her typical christmas eggplant – parmisan, because it is just so delicious, so maybe when you visit you can have 1 or 2 traditional meals with your family and have a bit of the tastes that fill you with memories?

  2. YEP.

    This month has been hard for us too, also with the sickness and me missing my family. Especially since his are here. Compromise can suck.

  3. You know how everyone’s all “weddings are SO HARD with the family and the expectations and the compromise and the crying” and I was all “whatever dudes, my wedding was easy!”? Well apparently the universe was just saving it all up for our newlywed Christmas because MAN this year SUCKED with all the family and the expectations and the compromise and the crying, but then in the end it all turned out pretty good. I definitely feel married now, that’s for sure.

    1. Yeah, I had my first holy shit I’m married moment while running about in my very grown up apartment, wrapping gifts and finishing up projects. It just felt so surreal, I couldn’t shake it. But it was a good thing.

      The hard stuff reminds me we are in it for the long haul. And it is indeed long ….

  4. “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.”

    Oh yes, yes I do.

    But on families. I cry at other people’s weddings not always bc I’m happy for them, but because I’m jealous of their family. I have trouble attending friend’s family events or holidays because I’m jealous of their family. I cry during any remotely sappy [holiday] movie because dammit I want parents too. But every time the holidays roll around and Scott and I wake up together and sit on the couch and it’s like a normal weekend except with less productivity and more presents and chocolate, I am so in love with our little family and all the things we *don’t* have to deal with.

    So yea, sometimes we can’t get everything we want and it suuuucks, but at the same time, it’s possible to be OK in the how things actually are.

    Have a wonderful trip to Mexico! And for the love of god, get well soon Kamel!

  5. I feel like marriage is all about being willing to learn, compromise, communicate, and admit defeat every now and then. Or at least admit you were wrong. Or something like that. James is very good at that. I… am not so good at that. But I’m working on it. So many things to talk about, and 2 people to make sure that are happy… it can be a lot at times. And 2 people aren’t always happy. But when you both are… it’s REALLY good. And all that other stuff feels worth it.

    Big hugs to you. Glad you were able to step back and see what the last month or 2 has looked like and why you were feeling the way you were.

    Ahhhh marriage. 😉 xo!

  6. Merry Belated Christmas!

    I feel like until we are in romantic relationships, it’s hard to really understand what compromise really means. It’s so much more challenging than it seems and is so much more complicated than going along with what the other wants every once in a while. It hurts and sucks sometimes too, especially when that compromise involves a special holiday and tradition.

    But you guys made it an you’re on your way to the good stuff! Have a great week and thanks for sharing this story – it’s refreshing to know that I’m not the only person who doesn’t experience rainbows and butterflies on a daily basis in my relationship!

  7. That internal monologue you wrote about what we really think compromise is (the easy stuff…) so hit home for me. I am really bad at not having things the way I want them…. and my husband is really too flexible. So flexible that sometimes, when I’m flailing about wanting what I want and he gives into it, I’m like, NO! THAT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! And I make him stand up for his needs. That has actually taught me more about compromising than anything…. because I have to force it on him sometimes. /tangent…

  8. Hard for me too!
    First Christmas without my wife in 32 years!
    But the reason was all worth it.
    Next year, wherever it is, MIA, SEA, SM (as in San Mateo) We’ll all be together…

    Enjoy MEX!

  9. I feel you on this. My first married Christmas was really difficult. My second married Christmas was really really difficult. This Christmas was my third married Christmas and I finally felt settled into married holidays. I hope next year’s holidays go more smoothly.

    I have to agree with you on Compromise. So so true. Very well said.

Leave a Reply