We’ve all heard it so many times – communication is the key and marriage is hard work. But communication about what exactly? And we don’t generally see couples with shovels in hand as an indicator of the “work” they’re doing. Thank goodness for that love-high with which we entered into this “till death do us part” arrangement. Because sometimes the reality of 10-years-in and x-more-to-go till death can be daunting. And even icky.
Can we get honest about marriage for a second? It’s awfully private and I’m a little nervous to write about it because I may reveal too much about my own situation. But it’s an intense bond and worthy of more discussion. For those of us that have signed up for marriage (and even divorce as a direct result of marriage), what can we learn from each other when we keep it so private?
Marriage is a universal bonding process but besides the above common jewels of advice, aren’t we pretty much trying to avoid what our parents did? We are floundering around trying not to be our parents but gosh darn it if some of those same patterns sneak up on us anyway. And reality sets in like jobs and bills and housework and family and in-laws and friends and what did we used to do just for fun?
Realness sets in and marriage becomes the day-in, day-out routine of making a life together. It can be a happy life to be sure. And I feel like that’s the choice we must cling to; amongst the routine and the imperfections of our selves and our partners, we must stubbornly refuse to give in to the icky feelings. It is easy to focus on our partner’s faults (socks on the floor again, we never do anything fun) because they, our partners, are the closest representation of us. In order to get honest about marriage, we have to be honest with ourselves first.
What does honesty with our selves look like? I hope it begins with a softening of our inner critic and friendliness as we encourage ourselves along the path. It also means a real look at our worst flaws. What is that thing we’ve been stuffing down for so long it’s now embedded in our perceptions of ourselves as well as our partners?
I don’t know about you but often the arguments in our house are on repeat – the same issue(s!) repackaged but it often comes down to some core problems. Recently, I’ve been more honest about my own emotions and my own imperfections with attempts to sprinkle it all with some kindness. It often feels like climbing an emotional mountain of sorts. So while it may not be pretty, it feels better than repeating the same emotional patterns. And I’m seeing the same willingness in my partner. We haven’t had our usual arguments because there has been better emotional honesty between us. Our moods are lighter and we’re having fun. I take that as a good sign.
I feel like I’ve said too much and not enough about the intensity of making a life with someone. But mostly I’m done with bullshit. Being honest feels a lot like vulnerability, and it’s refreshing and necessary. There’s no going back.