Marriage. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. For me – it’s harder than being a mom. While I have only been a mom for a little over 2 years – I’ve known my whole life that I would be one. To be honest – the whole being married part – didn’t really enter my thoughts. I mean – I knew I would be married. But – you just get married. And you live happily ever after. Because you are married. Because that’s what they say. Because that’s what happens at the end of movies.
Parenting is hard work. Parenting is exhausting and time consuming. Parenting is about letting go of your selfishness. Not marriage. And while parenting IS all of the above. Marriage is hard work. Marriage is exhausting and time consuming. Marriage is about letting go of your selfishness.
Marriage is much harder than parenting. For me. Right now. Or – maybe it’s marriage AND parenting combined.
Right now – I am extremely emotional. I am extremely sensitive. I am on edge. (I wrote about that here) So maybe right now – marriage is harder than usual.
It all comes down to this. Jared doesn’t listen to me and do what I want him to do. I think he should do certain things – without me telling him. Things that are painfully obvious to me.
And it’s stupid stuff. Right now – in a moment of rationale – I can see that. I can admit it. But in the moment of the issue – I’m extremely irrational. I know I am – but I can’t stop. It’s like I’m telling myself – just don’t say it. Just don’t say it – just don’t … BLAH BLAH BLAH. YOU DIDN’T DO THIS AND THAT. WHY DO YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME. WHY DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT ME. Seriously. It boils over – out of control. And I can see it when the smoke has cleared – but when the same exact situation comes up again – I freak out.
Here’s the crappy part – being married to Jared isn’t really that hard. Being married to me – is crazy hard.
I would love to tell you – and sometimes think – I can let things go. And while I can forgive – it’s hard for me to forget. When Jared does or doesn’t do something once – then I expect it to happen again and again. Which is really just me setting him up for failure. If I believe that he will always screw up (no matter what) – he will most likely screw up (no matter what) – because I’ve already prepared myself (and him) for that. That’s the excuse I use. Being prepared for the worst. Seriously.
I would love to tell you that I’m the encouraging wife – in every and any area of life. When it comes to anything. But – I suck. Like – really really suck. Words of praise and encouragement are Jared’s love language – he needs it. And the concept is absolutely ridiculous to me. (Again – not in the concept of parenting – I get that. They are just little guys that need positive reinforcement – but in the case of grown men – or women – I don’t get it) I wanted to start a business – so I did. I made up my mind to lose weight – so I did. Again – I don’t say this to be insensitive to anyone – just to let you know a little of what goes on inside this head.
Jared has spent most of his life trying to blend in with the crowd – not make waves – make people happy. I’ve spent most of my life trying to stand out in the crowd – be proud of being the goofy girl – not concerned with how people view me. Obviously – there are pros and cons to each situation. Jared craves encouragement and recognition. I crave time and service.
When I come home and Jared has picked up or done the dishes – he waits for recognition. I feel that I don’t need to say anything because that’s just something you have to do every day. I don’t get thanked for keeping up the house and doing laundry and blah blah blah. But then again – it’s not important to me. I don’t need it. He does. I just needed the house picked up and dishes to be done.
Why is it so hard for to me to say – thanks for doing the dishes. Why is it so hard for me to say – yes – go golfing. Why is it so hard for me to say – great job. Why is it so hard for me to leave shoes out of place. Why is it so hard for me to see the things that Jared has done to help instead of doing what I do best in pointing out the things he hasn’t.
Last weekend – I was explaining this to my parents. I said – I’m just so irritable right now! My dad said – as compared to what? He was joking – but not really. It’s not that I’m an unpleasant person – but I am a particular person.
I know that. Jared knew that when he married me. And while you shouldn’t want to change the person you marry – you try. And hopefully YOU end up being changed. It’s happening – even if it’s ever so slowly. I’m not as freaked out about things being “perfect” like I once was. I’m not nearly as uptight and stubborn as I once was – believe it or not. I’m trying – even as I type this – to think rationally. To pick my battles – so they say. To let things go. I don’t consider myself a fixer – although I know people would disagree. Instead of a fixer – I’m more like a – if you would just listen to me and do things my way – person. Which might be why mothering comes easy to me and marriage is harder.
But in the end – mothering isn’t about that either. Mothering and marriage is about trust. Trust in God. I can’t even say trust in your spouse. Because your spouse will fail you. Your kids will fail you. The only person you can really truly trust is God. And when you both trust in God to protect and guide your marriage (and your kids) – it’s a little easier. Still hard (for me) because I have control issues which means I have trust issues. And while marriage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done – nothing in this world worth having comes easy. I have a husband who loves me and stands by me (crazy or not) and I know why. Because he loves me – which has to be hard. And I love him.
Nine years. 3,285 (give or take) days. 78,840 hours.
45 times longer than Kim K’s marriage.
A long time when you’re only 32 years old. And yet, it seems like not much time at all.
23 year old Jared. Ha, he thought he knew about life, but he was wrong. He thought he know about love, and he did, to an extent. He thought he knew what “for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,” meant, but he didn’t.
I still remember that day and the previous day pretty clearly. There was the “fight” the night before, resulting in a pretty sweet rut in our back yard. The good times with friends, waking up to breakfast at Crossroads B&B, the nearly cloudless wedding day, the minister calling me “Brian” when it was time to kiss the bride, the EPIC best man speech, dancing the night away with friends – so many great memories.
And yet that was 1 day. One of 3,285. And while it was an important day, our marriage has been made in the 3,284 days since. In jaw pain, in owning a puppy, training a puppy, having a miscarriage, having Fitzy, experiencing more loss, going through church struggles, developing couple friendships, experiencing more loss, having our marriage commitments tested, going through anxiety and depression….you get the picture.
As I look back, all of these things, and thousands more, have shaped me into the man I am today, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Happy Nine Years, babe. Even knowing everything I do now, I’d do it all again. In a heartbeat.
Nine years ago I woke up with a headache – which is the norm for me. But I remember thinking – not today. Please not today.
Thankfully my girls distracted me and we started hair and make up and had a relaxing morning. I got ready and dressed at my future in-laws house – with those most dear next to me.
The dress fit perfectly – the day was beautiful – I was ready.
Cus that”s what a wedding is about. A beautiful dress and no pimples to hide! Perfectly manicured hair and nails and a bright shining sun in the sky. Looking your best. With all your friends.
Oh – and then walking down an aisle to say I DO and kiss. Dancing the night away with your friends and family. And gifts.
That’s totally what a wedding was about. That’s totally what a wedding IS about.
And it shouldn’t be. A wedding should be about your marriage. Not the dress – not the weather – not the party. You and this boy pledging your love and commitment to each other for all time. No matter what. In rain or in shine. In craptastic days and fantastic days – or weeks or months or years. In pain and sorrow or in good health and joy. In newlywed bliss or brand new baby tiredness. In every moment that takes your breath away and every moment that you want to scream.
I look back on today – nine years ago – and think. The nerve. The nerve I had to look Jared in the face in front of all the people dearest to us – and God – and tell him that I loved him. Yes. I will be there for you. Yes. I will love you. Yes. I will support you. Yes. Yes. Yes. I had NO idea what I was talking about. I had NO idea what marriage was really about. Sharing your hopes and dreams and life and loves. Putting Jared and his needs before me and mine.
I love him so much more today – than I did nine years ago. And it’s about more than love. Our trust has been tested. Our dreams and desires have been put on hold at times. What I wanted – it isn’t about me anymore. It’s about us. And believe it or not – that’s a hard concept for me. And I’ll bet it is for you too. I love him so much more today – but it’s also a deeper love. I know what it’s like to be scared. To look at my marriage and ask the really hard questions. To listen to – and give – hard answers. To sacrifice.
To think about the vows we promised each other. To trust each other.
I wrote about how I’m a little bit crazy – okay – a GIANT bowl full of crazy. And to think that Jared has lived with me – loved me – supported me – stayed in the same house as me – for nine years. Nine crazy long years. It makes me cry. He is kinder than I am. He is more patient than I am. He is more giving than I am. I’ve always said that I wanted to have a baby with Jared – because he is the best person I know. I know that Fitzy gets his kindness and gentleness from his dad. Thank You Jesus.
While I am still in the midst of crazy Danielle (I’m working on it) and while we’ve been through some really ugly days and weeks and months – when I look at my life. It’s beautiful. It’s blessed.
Your wedding day should be one of the happiest days of your life. I am so thankful that my husband has made every day since then even better. And next year – I will love him even more.
No really. I am.
At least technically I am.
Or, better put, I struggle with anxiety which at times is mixed with depression. So yeah, I am a little bit crazy.
And I forget things. A lot. Just ask Danielle if you don’t believe me. She’ll confirm it in a heartbeat. And it always seems to be the things she NEEDS me to remember. It’s almost like I try so hard to not forget that I end up forgetting. Go figure.
But I digress. Living with anxiety and depression is the worst. I would probably rank it right under living with a terminal physical illness. And this might sound harsh, but if you’ve never experienced it, you don’t understand, at least not fully.
And I’m speaking from my point of view. I can’t imagine the toll it has taken on Danielle during the 3-4 significant bouts I’ve had since we’ve been married. I can’t say “thank you” enough to her for sticking it out with me. Many other women would have left, and honestly, I wouldn’t fault them for it.
When Danielle refers to herself has crazy, I think of it more as OCD/control issues. Not literally crazy. Maybe annoying would be a better word, but you didn’t hear that from me.
So while her “crazy” is trying to deal with at times, I think it pales in comparison to what she went through standing by my side. Let me give you a little glimpse.
It’s Monday morning. 7:15 AM. The alarm has been on snooze at least 3 times now. My side of the bed is drenched in sweat, and I’ve been up off and on since 4 AM. My stomach is knotted up unbelievably tight, and the though of just getting ready for the day is a daunting, if not impossible, task. Imagine thinking everyone is upset at you or that every little thing you do is wrong. You constantly second-guess yourself. You’ve been going to the gym for a month or so, but now it’s been 3 months, and you haven’t canceled your membership, because that would be “giving up” and really admitting you have a problem.
Welcome to my world from August 2012 through February 2013.
That’s a small glimpse of what Danielle lived with for half a year. HALF A YEAR. She’s a saint in my book.
Of the two of us, I’m the crazy one. But I’m glad my best friend is fighting with me.
No – seriously. And Jared will agree with me.
I’m usually pretty crazy anyway. But being pregnant – makes it much worse.
I feel horrible. Cranky – moody – irritable (I realize those are all the same thing – but believe me – you can describe me right now with each of them – capitalized if you’d like). I’m not complaining. I’ve been pregnant 5 times and when I feel like this – it’s a good sign that a baby is here to stay. So the worse I feel – the better I feel. If you know what I mean.
BUT – that doesn’t help Jared. And the people around me that are exposed to my craziness. But like almost anything – I try and put on the best face I can for my friends and family. So – Jared ends up getting the WHOLE ball of craziness. Awesome.
We’ve gotten good news about this pregnancy. A baby on a screen. A heartbeat (seen and heard). No signs of tearing or bleeding. But the slight spotting continues. And I think – I was bigger with Fitzy – but I was also 20 pounds heavier in general. And I worry. And I try not to. And I know that it’s in God’s hands. I know that He has given us a word and a promise. I know that. I do. And yet I worry. And I try not to.
So what happens – is I start to control the things that I can control. Mostly things being picked up and neat and orderly and having a place. I have some OCD tendencies – but they’ve been able to be under control – for the most part. But there are certain places in my life where you can see them – very evidently.
My business. I pay my taxes on the first day of the month – not the 20th when they are due. I pay quarterlies a month ahead of time. I have a spreadsheet calculating my taxes and mileage and sessions. When I do a session – the first thing I do when I get home – is open three little spreadsheets and mark down all the info – before I even download any pictures. Because it”s what I’ve always done. Because if I don’t – it’s just not right. Nothing bad will happen – it’s just what needs to be done. Crazy. I know.
My desk. Pens go here. Sticky notes go there. Bills go here. Checkbooks go there. And you don’t move them. Ever. Because that’s where they go. And I get crazy about it.
With my business and my desk – I”m like this all the time. Thankfully – with the rest of the house – I have chilled out – a lot over the years – because I am pretty sure Jared would have left by now. But when I’m where I am right now – it starts to spill over. And shoes NEED to go here. Plates HAVE to go here. Dishes NEED to be done NOW. Toys MUST be organized. EVERY SINGLE THING has a spot and it must be in it. And when I have to ask – oh no – much worse. Because you should already KNOW that all these things MUST be done this way. I mean – we have been married for almost 9 years – haven’t you figured it out yet?
Jared assures me that I’m not THIS bad all the time. Today he told me that I usually keep it at a manageable level – but it’s just out of control right now. In his exact words – you’re just crazy right now. And he tried to think of a better way to say it. I said – just say it. So he did. And I said. I know. We need to talk about it – cus I’m not happy right now. I’m not happy with you – not happy with me – just not happy. And that’s the way it is with OCD and control issues. People think you do it to make yourself happy. But you do it to maintain the crazy that’s spilling out ever so slowly – or in my case – pretty rapidly.
I deal with anxiety – always have. And my anxiety comes out this way. With control issues. Jared knows this. He knew this when we started dating – it was much worse then. And he still chose to stay with me. And while I’m not happy with him right now – and his inability to live up to my crazy standards – we talked. Because mostly – I’ve just been sighing and crying and saying ONCE AGAIN – you didn’t do this – you didn’t do that. And I feel better. Tons.
But – I’m still crazy.
I’m watching The Office. Jim and Pam are in marriage counseling. OH THE HORROR!
I know – it’s a television show – it’s NOT real. Just remember that I know that.
Pam was engaged. To a jerk. She wasn’t happy. She met Jim at work. They became close friends. They fell in love. Jim asked her to choose him. She said no. Jim left. Pam called off the wedding. Jim started dating someone else. But we all knew they were meant to be. They FINALLY got together. They got married. Had two babies. Jim got a new job. His focus changed. Pam may have gotten a little too close to a friend – a guy friend. They are asking the hard questions to other people – not each other.
Why would the writers take it down this road? This can’t happen to Jim and Pam. They have the perfect relationship.
Because it happens. To the best of us.
We lose sight of what it means to be married. What it means to actually put someone else ahead of our own needs and wants. We get selfish. We start to confide in someone else. We start to put more value in their opinion than our spouse’s. We start to assume.
And then it all comes out. We find out that we’ve lied to each other. We’ve lied to ourselves. We’ve become someone we don’t recognize. We’ve said things that we regret. We’ve asked each other questions that we never thought we would. We don’t know how to trust each other.
Because it happens. To the best of us.
Because we aren’t the best. Because we are human. Because we are sinful.
Because we need Jesus more than we need each other. And sometimes crappy stuff has to happen for us to realize that.
Jim and Pam can make it. They need to ask each other the hard questions. They need to cry. They need to say I’m sorry. They need to forgive. They need to get on the same page.
Sacrifices had to be made. An aspect of my job. A relationship with a friend. The reliance on a FACEBOOK account. Time. Sleep. Priorities.
It was hard. Really truly very hard. We talked. We cried. We yelled. We forgave. We learned to trust again. We re-evaluated our marriage. What it meant to be in this. Together. What the new rules had to be and living within those boundaries.
A year ago – I didn’t know what would happen. I wasn’t sure where we would be today. Seriously.
We turned to Jesus. And he helped us turn to each other and stay there. We’re on the same page. We’ve made sacrifices. We are in an awesome place – a place I didn’t think could exist. It was hard. Because life is hard. But so worth it.
While we didn’t turn to marriage counseling – we would have. If you’re reading this and you’re struggling with your spouse – no matter what the issue is – it’s not going to just go away. I’m willing to bet it will only get worse. Confront the issue. Let your feelings be heard – not pushed aside. Remember that your marriage is more important than any friendship. Remember that you are in this together. Remember why you got married in the first place. Remember why you fell in love. Go there. Stay there.
I’ve been a huge fan of The Office ever since we started watching several years ago. It’s hit or miss anymore, especially since Michael left, but I can’t give up on it now.
This season they’ve introduced a new story line where Jim takes a job in Philadelphia for a sports marketing company. Jim took the job without his wife, Pam, knowing. Then he invested a large chunk of change in the startup. Finally he starts commuting between Scranton and Philadelphia, and at this point in the season he seems to be in Philadelphia more often than not.
Along the way, as one would expect, tensions grow. To the point where Jim gets a bit frustrated and “nasty”, if you will, with Pam during several exchanges.
And then it happened. All of a sudden it becomes somewhat clear that one of the cameramen working on the documentary has a thing for Pam. He saves her from an enraged warehouse employee, offers a shoulder to cry on after a rough conversation with Jim, etc.
I HATE, HATE, HATED this storyline at first. I was afraid they were ruining one of the best story arcs of the entire series. If they messed with Jim and Pam, I was not going to be a happy camper!
Truth is, this story, and stories like it, are all too familiar in our society. It happens to the best of us. I know.
Last year was a rough year for us. We had a 1-year old who was <strong>not</strong> sleeping well, which basically turned us into parent zombies, had just gone through the first of 2 miscarriages of the year and were dealing with settling into a new church after a rough experience. Needless to say, things were stressful.
I can identify with the Jim/Pam arc in that I lost sight of what was important in my life. I started to value other people’s opinions and advice more than Danielle’s, who was (in my mind) kind of driving me bonkers and not really paying attention to me, what with a little guy to take care of and a business to run.
I became a person, that, looking back, I’m fairly ashamed of. I was downright nasty to Danielle at times, lied to her on several occasions and our relationship took a back seat to other pursuits.
I hope Jim and Pam’s story plays out the way ours has. We had some difficult talks. We yelled. We cried. We worked through our hurts. We did the hard work to make things work.
I’m happy to say I don’t even recognize that person from a year ago. Our relationship has improved more than I thought possible at the time. In a way I’m almost glad this happened, because our relationship is stronger now than it’s ever been.
If you’re having struggles in your relationship, you’re certainly not alone, and you’re not a failure. Relationships are hard. Marriage is hard. Perhaps harder than any other relationship you’ll ever experience.
If you need help – get it! Yes, marriage is hard. It’s messy at times. It’s draining, but it is most definitely worth fighting for.
Like Danielle said, that’s a pretty loaded question, but that’s how we like to roll.
I have to digress a little bit to share one of the things that first stuck out to me about Danielle (besides the fact she seemed to like to wear dark’ish clothes and seemed a bit mysterious when I first met her).
My memory is not the greatest at times, but I remember being wowed hearing Danielle speak Campus Crusade for Christ one night. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but it was clear then (and also before) that she loved Jesus. I’ll never forget hearing her speak (even if I can’t remember it all. Sorry, babe!)
Fast forward to our pre-marriage counseling. A dear friend, who later officiated at our wedding, said something to the effect “if you keep Christ as the center of your marriage, you can make it through anything.” I know, I know. That sounds totally cliché, but it has proven to be true time and time again.
When I look back at all the things we’ve been through in our marriage, and continue to go through, I don’t know how we would have made it without Jesus. I think one or both of us would probably have given up at some point along the way.
I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
<blockquote>Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.</blockquote>
I see myself and Danielle so much in these verses. There have been times where we’ve had to “help each other up” spiritually. When we dealt with our first miscarriage I really tried to maintain faith and encourage Danielle that our time would come, and it did. God was faithful, although we couldn’t understand His plan at that time.
When I’ve battled with anxiety and depression, Danielle has stayed strong for me. She’s walked with me, cried with me and prayed with me. She’s helped me keep my eyes on Jesus during times where it was hard to on my own. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God put us into each other’s lives and knew how we would complement each other and help each other in our faith.
I’d love to sit here and tell you what a great job we’ve done at keeping Jesus the center of our marriage. How we’ve read through the Bible together. How our spiritual growth has just continued year after year of our marriage.
But I’d rather not lie to to you. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus is at the center of our marriage, holding it together, but it hasn’t always been easy keeping Him there, and quite frankly, we often fall short. Many times life gets in the way. Hurt gets in the way. We get in the way and make a mess of things.
That’s the awesome thing about Jesus. He loves us. No matter what. We’ve failed so many times, and we will continue to fail, but that will NEVER change His love for us (and his love for you, too, by the way). And because He loves us, we can share that love with others.
I can tell you this. I have not always done a very good job of sharing that love with the people I know. But my hope is that by reading this blog you can experience the love that Jesus has for you, and let that love transform your marriage into something beyond your wildest imagination.
While you fight for your marriage, fight to keep Jesus at the center of your marriage.