This past Tuesday marked James’ and my four-month wedding anniversary. Four months… meaning almost a half a year together! Half a YEAR! So many aspects in my life have changed. The way I think. The way I act. How I feel. Our present and future, colliding into one large bubbling-over life together. Married life. And it’s all so completely, wonderfully overwhelming.
I’ve been wanting to update you on our combined life thus far. That’s because people ask me about married life. A lot of people. “How’s married life?” Sometimes the question is phrased with enthusiasm… other times, well, a hint of sarcasm. My answer — for the longest time — was: “I’m not quite sure yet. Married life is… interesting.” And that’s about what I said. Every. Single. Time. Until now. Now I have an opinion. Now we aren’t in what I’m calling the “experimental” phase. Oh, you know the one. It’s the phase newlyweds go through in the beginning and new parents with their first child. It’s that moment in time when you actually feel yourself becoming a different person… and you cannot stop it from happening, even if you tried. It’s feeling like your life is kinda sorta… a huge scientific experiment. Controlled by almost everyone. Except yourself. “How do we do this?” “How do we accomplish that?” Or “Oh crap! That happens if this happens” and “I’ve got to remember not to do that again in the future.” It’s as if it’s all a learning game. But, it’s not a game at all. The realization then hits: This — this blip in time — THIS is your brand new life. A super-duper quick “welcome” and then you’re shoved in to start. No Married Life 101 book and instructor. No “here are my notes from when I was married; look them over before you begin.” None of that. And I was the nerd in school who needed those guidelines. That’s why, the very split second you realize you have an entirely new life… it’s scary. Scary and confusing… and emotional and overwhelming. Because you realize all your life you’ve been in control of yourself — of everything you — what happens to you, when you do certain things, the way you represent yourself or the way you think. But once you get married, that changes. Ohhh does it change. And that’s what’s scary. Sometimes, you cannot remember the person you once were. Sometimes, you wonder how much further will you change. And sometimes, the one person you relied on seems to have vanished. And that disappearing person… that person is you.
See I thought, “This married life — It’s going to be a cinch!” James and I dated for about four years before we got married. We spent a large portion of our time together — traveling, visiting and spending the night at each other’s homes. That’s how I knew ahead where to practice my patience when we lived together — James is clumsy so if he drops say, a whole bottle of red pepper flakes on the kitchen floor (true story), I’ll just calmly help him clean it up. Oh, and have disinfectant wipes easily accessible. That’s because he doesn’t believe in bacteria… despite my (desperate) attempts to describe Mad Cow Disease, E. Coli and other little organisms originating from meat. See, I was prepared. I had written my own “Married Life Guide.” We had figured out everything to get ready for this milestone of marriage: Passed our pre-marriage council meetings with our pastor. Tallied up where the dollars were going from our paycheck, plotting each bill, each unexpected cost in an Excel spreadsheet. We had even found it fascinating to figure out who would do what chore. Our living together was fool-proof. Yep, I said it: Fool-proof.
…That’s what I thought.
Then we get married. It was lovely, magical. And next, we move in together. That… well, that was anything but “lovely and magical.” At first. The truth is things didn’t happen like I thought. People warned me, “Oh, just you wait! You’ll fight about the smallest things!” Maybe the “smallest things” meaning the unanticipated flip-flops by the door… despite the fact that it would actually be less walking if the flip-flops were slipped off in the coat closet when grabbing our puppy’s leach. And what about the dining room chairs! Doesn’t everyone believe in tucking them in after they get up? Don’t get me started on the lights! I’m pretty sure we could have saved half of our first electrical-bill money if the lights were turned off in rooms no one was in. And (in my head) I hear James saying, “What about all those times you left — and still leave — your wet towel on our bed?” …But know what? We didn’t argue about these things. Honest. It became (and still is) something we find humor in. And if you cannot find humor in small situations, you’ll surely lose your mind. Mainly when it comes to the large issues.
That’s what we argued about. A lot. In fact, I wonder sometimes if our neighbors judge us as “those newlyweds” based on hearing our absurdly loud shouts back and forth. Those main, key issues you never questioned before — That’s what we disagree on… day in and day out. We argued about family, money, time. Our future. Our present… which seemed to keep colliding in this horrible manner… and we were just there, witnessing this crash… each and every time.
It was depressing. It was maddening. And it felt almost hopeless some days. That’s because the truth is living with the opposite sex for the first time, getting married and moving in together is just that: a crash, a collision… one big heaping mess of a situation waiting to boil over. I thought I knew who James was. I thought I knew his quirks… and I thought he knew mine. I thought he knew me. But holy hell, we were clueless. For starters, he could not have foreseen my rules: The bathroom light has to be on at night, but the bathroom door has to remain closed while we sleep because the light shining into our room will keep me awake. Oh, and I have a specific way I have to load the dishwasher… and if one glass or plate is not in the designated so-called ‘common sense spot,’ I have this overwhelming urge to rearrange not only the dishwasher, but items in every cabinet. Speaking of cabinets, the food labels have to be facing out of the pantry, fridge, and freezer. This is a necessity, not up for discussion. I would keep naming, but for fear you will now judge me (further), I will stop. The point is, I’m crazy. But James is crazy too. He has his rules. So that makes us both crazy. That’s when I realized something new. Something so insanely refreshing that to this day it still makes me cry.
I love this man. I love this crazy, wild-at-times, arms-flinging-in-disputes, blue-eyed, adorable smiling, always-warm-when-we-cuddle man. I love him. I love the way my hand fits in his when we hold hands. I love how no matter what wrong I do, he always sees right. I love how he’s continued to accept the woman I am… and, at the same time, change me… change me into a better, stronger person than I was before. I love his ever-so-wide heart that cares unlimited for so much. I love everything — his jokes, the sound of his laughter. Him. My James. I love him. And once I remembered who he was… remembered the man I first met, fell in love with… married… that’s when I found my old self again. That’s when I knew I… him… we… WE would be okay.
I decided to write this post because I wish like hell I would have crossed someone else writing something similar when they first got married. For that reason, I’m hoping soon-to-be man and wife couples will find this little post and read it. Know it’s okay that your marriage doesn’t work perfectly right way. In fact, the first three months will be hard. Very. Very. Hard. I’m-going-to-pull-my-hair-LITERALLY-out-of-my-head hard. But time goes on. And you learn. And he learns. You learn together. You become better. As an individual and as a couple. And in the end, you have to laugh. You have to concentrate on the positive side. You have to enjoy this time because it’s memories in the makin’. And God, knowing everything I do now, I would still relive each memory. Just remember, you have to be open-minded because he will change. You’ll change. But in the end, change can be good.
Love is crazy. Love is never ever planned. It cannot be perfected, twisted into this mold of how you envisioned things happening. Love just does. It doesn’t ask questions, work with your schedule, hold things in until a better time. Love — and everything surrounding love — just happens. And when it does, it’s stunning, beautiful. You’ll be crazy. He’ll go crazy. But together — allowing your spouse to be crazy… that is what I think love is. Embracing one’s love, accepting that person in their most craziest of crazy fits… and loving them through it. Surviving anything, together.