Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This Just In: Marriage is Hard

The truth is, I believed in my heart when I married Tom that marriage would not be difficult. For all you married people out there, you're probably laughing hysterically and crying "oh the arrogance of youth!" Yet isn't it such a beautiful thing? That I, like William Morris so far before me, "determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty." I thought that because of the depth of my love for my darling boy, I would be able to be all the things he believed me to be, almost effortlessly - because when does one count the cost, when one labors for the lover?

Unfortunately, even with the graces attendant to the sacrament, I am still rather sinful and have mostly failed miserably in being a good wife. As much as I hate to admit it to myself, I can be something of a bully when I believe I have the superior position. It is a trait that I identified in my husband back when we were at CUA together, but he only uses it in academic settings. I can use it anywhere. When I think I am right and I believe the other person to be slow in understanding, I just want to push past their doubts and frustrations: I want them to believe me because I'm saying it (y'know me, the smart girl!), and I want them to understand what I'm saying as quickly as I say it.    I don't process concepts, conversations, or implications slowly, and I don't want anyone else to either. This is a blatant example of self-centeredness and selfishness, impatience and unkindness. It is one of the worst sides of myself.

Although previously this side of myself was largely controlled and only came out to poor unsuspecting friends or, far more often, unfriendly adjunct professors, now I'm married. Unlike most newlyweds, Tom and I are around each a lot; he works a nontraditional job, and I don't have a job at all, plus his work is 2.5 miles away from our house and the only place with free wi-fi. Since we share a bed, we are around each other probably 20 hours a day. I'm not an easy person to be around for 4 hours at a time, to say nothing of 20, and yet I expect my brand new husband to know how to deal with me. I expect him to know when I want this or that, how to talk to me when I'm sad or angry, and how I perceive his tone when it's one way or another. I expect him to know me as well as my best girl friends, who lived with me for years and had a big learning curve that I've forgotten about now because it was ten years ago.

Into this mix we add isolation. Naples is a new town for me, and I am hundreds of miles away from the nearest good friend. My law school friends are off being all lawyerly (read: they have day jobs) and my new friends here, even the ones I adore, have kids and/or jobs - I cannot just call them whenever I feel like it, and convince them to go grab a beer with me. There's a general feeling of confinement: I don't have a car, I don't have close friends nearby, and I don't have copious amounts of money to use to redecorate my house and/or the world. Oh also? Naples is boring (compared to Tuscaloosa and DC).

So the person I am suddenly most dependent on: my husband. It all falls on him, and I expect him to meet every need I have. All of my emotional needs, physical needs, friendship needs, everything - he's the one constant physical person in my life right now, and I expect him to be all things to me. On top of his job and the other relationships in his life, this is beyond an unreasonable demand. It is untenable, and it is starting to break me. The more he cannot meet when I want, the more I demand and become impatient, exacting, unmerciless in my desire for him to understand what I feel I am clearly communicating (when in fact, I am not communicating at all).

To a degree, I think this amount of stress would have been lessened if I had gotten pregnant right away. Getting pregnant immediately brings a woman into a club: suddenly she has a group of friends and advisers that she never had before, she's invited to events she would previously have not been invited to, friends and family stay closer in touch. I would have been busier too and productive, full of books to read and nesting to be done. Yet pregnancy would have masked a problem that might have arisen later, after all our kids left the house: I don't know how to be married. I don't know how to argue fair, how to express what I'm thinking without being really mean or else completely deadpan, I have a really hard time telling my husband what I really think in the inner most reaches of my heart. I don't know how to do what I have committed for life to doing.

Being married is hard, and since God has left me no other options, I just have to get better at it.


  1. Hugs! I thought of you the other day when we were walking and ran into a third year and his wife here on campus and she said: "The first year of law school is like the first year of marriage. You just have to get through it!"

    I can kind of relate on the being in a new place and placing unrealistic demands on Paul... he has to remind me frequently that he can't just hang out with us very often because of the demands of school... and I haven't been very good at accepting that!

    I hope you have a great time this week and hopefully we can get together when you get back!

  2. Yes, being newly married can be hard. I am probably not the easiest one to get along with either. I also have no kids, am not pregnant, moved away from friends and family, and have no job.

    However, my husband is amazing and is probably the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. Somehow he seems to just put up with everything I do (which is a lot I'm sure). For a little more information on me you can read my intro to me blog post.

    I'm sure your husband loves you very much and is also willing to put up with alot. I just read The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman’s and I think that helped me realize how to talk to my husband and let him know that I love him. Even with all of the hard parts of marriage I am still enjoying every minute. Feel free to correspond with me if you need a way to pass the time.


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