Caitlin is back with her on going adventure-ing segment about her whirlwind pregnancy/move/marriage life explosion bambambam! Because – the big adventures (the big big BIG adventures) are sometimes the things that seem so regular. Family? Home? Children? But wowza… those are some major life steps. Last time Caitlin was visiting she gave us a list of moving Dos and Don’ts. This time she’s here to talk about the early days of marriage. The stuff that so many people never talk about because what if people then tell you you are doomed? You are not doomed. Dealing with other people is rough. Other people are so inconvenient, even if we love them. And Caitlin is handling it with humor and grace, her story is definitely something to think about.
I have reached the 6 week mark on one of the greatest adventures I have undertaken in my 29 years. I am a newlywed. I mean my husband and I are newlyweds. Sometimes I forget that it’s not all about me! I would like to say that marriage thus far has been tantamount to celestial bliss but it hasn’t been. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and driving home together after a weekend occasion instead of parting ways is one of my favorite things about being married to him. However, there is something that is just…different than our culture and every wedding website would have you believe.
Now I am loathe to use the word ‘hard’ to describe marriage. That would imply that marriage is a difficult achievement, when actually marriage is not something you achieve. Marriage is something you work at. So I will simply say that marriage takes concerted effort. And I should know. Because I am an expert at 6 weeks.
To provide some background for those of you who may not have read my recent post on Better In Real Life, my now husband and I had a long-distance relationship before finding out that we were expecting a baby. While we had discussed marriage prior to this discovery, we decided to be married in a brief civil ceremony before I moved in with him. Be it Catholic guilt, selfishness, or frankly an unwillingness to share my sacred personal space and time with someone without being married first, we opted for this route. So here we are. And I have inevitably come to realize that our marriage is not an extension of our dating relationship.
Take our marriage license, for example. I intended to have it beautifully framed and hung somewhere appropriate. It is currently sitting in an envelope on my desk among a host of other papers. Does this mean that we’re not married and that we don’t love each other?! Certainly not. It means that we’ve been busy living our married life from day to day, and other things have taken priority. When we were dating, we always had plans. Or rather, I always had plans for us. We were on the go close to seventy-five percent of the time. It is simply a mathematical improbability to be as busy in our married life as we were when dating. Believe it or not, this has been a huge mental leap for me. Brushing our teeth at night, walking the dog, deciding what to have for dinner, and sitting on the couch I am slowly convincing myself are “normal” activities, not mundane ones. Not every waking minute demands a well-thought-out plan. Married life, like life in general, unfolds exactly as it should. At least that is my justification for having failed to frame our marriage license yet.
Another profound realization I’ve had about marriage involves the elusive ‘C’ word. Three of them actually: Calm Down, Cool Your Shit, and Compromise! For the first two weeks of my marriage I had near-nightly panic attacks when my husband wouldn’t bring his lunch box back in the house. No joke.
My husband works at various commercial locations throughout his work day with no access to a kitchen or microwave, so I pack a lunch for him complete with an icepack to keep it chilled because I love him. Not to mention that it’s economically prudent. Wouldn’t June Cleaver be proud?! So when my husband comes home (sans lunch box) and naturally just wants to transition into the evening, my thought process goes something like this:
“Dammit, doesn’t he care that I spend time making a lunch for him? Does he want to eat a warm sandwich and tepid yogurt every day?!! He’s just going to sit there?!! Bastard.”
After several unsuccessful attempts to get him to bring in the lunch box, my thoughts then spiraled even further out of control:
“So I quit my job, left my family to move down here, declined admission to graduate school, am carrying your child, and you can’t even put an icepack back in the freezer? Motherf&**$#r!!!”
I should insert here that my husband makes a point of telling me how grateful he is for all that I do every day. The pregnancy-fueled mental histrionics are entirely mine. The fact is, my husband really doesn’t care if he eats a warm sandwich or not. This is a man who was in the army and once willingly ate an MRE over a meal I had attempted to cook! The lukewarm lunch scenario is just not on his radar. Not even close. So, one evening I took a deep breath upon my husband’s empty-handed return. I silently acknowledged that while he cares about me, he does not care about his lunch. And I chose not to bring it up. Coincidentally, he had stopped at a French bakery that reminded him of me and bought me a croissant. This gesture helped ease my extreme mental discomfort! A couple of evenings went by and although I thought about it, I didn’t bring up the damn lunch box. Until one day passed and….the lunch box didn’t cross my mind at all! Breakthrough.
Sometimes, a change in our thinking necessarily follows a change in our action, contrary to popular belief. This action was so subtle and personal, it required no physical exertion. I just chose to do it. And now I am better able to enjoy my evenings with my new husband. And, miraculously, my husband now remembers to bring in his lunch box about 2 out of 5 evenings a week. Not bad!