I am a person who can quickly tap into that feeling of loneliness. I know I have mentioned this before, and through writing about it every now and then over the last year, I have come to honor that this is part of who I am. At the same time, I am lucky. I am lucky because I am really never alone. I am beginning to realize that loving and knowing myself is key to understanding this. And through the journey I am on, I am starting to honor that fact that I am lucky because I have a partner in this life: my husband. However, I often forget this. I forget that I am not alone, that he is here to support me, listen to me, brainstorm with me, and hold my hand. I forget that through our relationship I learn more about this person who is me. I forget to pay attention to this because I become lost in the day-to-day stuff.
During these last few weeks, I have been forced to rely on him. Not in my usual “take it for granted that he will empty and fill the dishwasher because he knows how much I hate that” way or my assumption that he will put the new roll of toilet paper on the toilet paper holder thing because that bugs me or my “I have been married for four years and have forgotten how to do certain things I always did as a single girl so now I need a man to do it for me” way. Not in those usual ways.
I had to rely on him to drive me to doctor’s appointments and tests because I was too sick to drive myself or might be too ill after the test or procedure I was having. He made me meal after meal, not because I was too lazy or didn’t think about cooking, but because I couldn’t do it. I had to just rest. There were a few days when I could shower only when he was home because I was so dizzy and one day when he had to wash my hair for me because I was in too much pain to hold my head back. This is an entirely new level of relying on someone else.
A few months ago, I casually mentioned on my blog that I would like to write/talk more about marriage. The truth about marriage. The challenges, the ugly bits, the gorgeous moments, the misunderstandings, honest moments, the beauty, the fears…the guts of it. How marriage acts as a magnifying glass hovering over all of your baggage, stuff, fears, loves, hates, and beauty. And I want to start talking about it. Here. Today.
Talking about the guts of marriage can, of course, apply to any relationship that involves the intimacy of romantic love. A person in a relationship like this obviously does not have to be married (and I honor that some of you can’t get married and to say that the fact that you might want to and you can’t pisses me off…well, that is an understatement, but a topic for another time), marriage is just my frame of reference.
These last few weeks as I have relied on Jon in a different way, I have remembered why it is that we do the heavy lifting in our marriage. Why we stay in the room when we have a conflict (or at least why we continue to work to stay in the room even when we want to flee). Why he does the dishes almost every day knowing that I hate to do dishes. Why I take care of presents and mailing things and on and on because he hates trying to figure all that out. Why he sits on the couch next to me listening to his iPod and I turn and put my legs up over his legs even though I am working and basically ignoring him and if I were to talk he wouldn’t hear me anyway because he is engrossed in a podcast. Why he is learning to give me space when I lash out because my fears are sometimes louder than the reason and truth that rest in my heart. Why I am trying to understand how to listen and not fix/suggest/take over/talk over him when he shares his problems. Why we just keep doing the work. Every day. To me, because you are doing the work, you are saying to the other person, “You are not alone. I am here. Right here next to you. And when the shit hits the fan, even if we just had a big, fat, ugly argument, I am going to be right here, right next to you. This is something you can simply count on because I am telling you this. You can trust me.”
When I was single, I thought if I just found someone all the pieces of my life would fall into place. I would be thin (of course because no one was going to love a person who was not thin), I would feel beautiful all the time, I would have great sex every single day, I would have fun most of the time, I would entertain people in my big house, I would buy this and that, I would have five kids, I would have money to travel to exotic places, I would feel brave, I would feel whole, I would, I would, I would.
Yeah, I so didn’t get it.
I didn’t get that someone would actually love me for me. Which means that person would even accept the parts that I didn’t accept about myself, the parts I still didn’t magically accept after that person was a part of my life. I didn’t want to admit that I knew my self-image was about me and not about the fact that I didn’t have several boyfriends in high school and college (or really any for that matter) and other boy-related issues. I didn’t get that the other person would bring all of there shit (literally and figuratively) into the relationship and that my shit and that person’s shit would just have to co-exist and learn to love one another and all fit under the roof of one apartment (that had been plenty of space for me and a dog) and in the space between us. There was so much that I didn’t get.
I believe relationships are one of those things that you have to live to understand. But one thing I do feel is true, we can be a bit more honest about it. And by we, I mean you and me and all the people that make up this crazy society. We can talk about the guts of it—the beauty and the shit—and let go of the fears surrounding being honest.
When you are a newly married person, there is a societal pressure to prove that you are going to be one of the ones who makes it. Meaning, you have to talk about how everything is still bright and shiny like an issue of Martha Stewart Weddings, instead of being honest about how the honeymoon ended a lot sooner than you thought and crap, you just don’t want to put Star Trek ships up in the living room and how you are sometimes too tired to have sex and how you can’t believe that he doesn’t understand why it is okay that you leave your underwear in the bathroom every morning because you have always lived here and that is just what you do but that you get mad at him when he does it. From the silly to the serious, we are invited not to talk about it. We don’t want people to think/say, “oh…they are having problems.”
So starting today…let’s talk about it.
"Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years."
(This is the part where I reassure you [and my dear husband] that this doesn’t mean I am going to share the nitty-gritty details of every aspect of my own marriage or that my blog has become “married-girl blog”—anyone who knows me knows I am not “married girl.” But as I continue to think about how this place has become a place for me to witness my journey, I have realized that I do want to start to look at what this partnership means in my life, what I can do to be a better communicator, and how it really is to try to have such an intimate relationship with someone else knowing that you are simply going to trigger each other because that is what happens in close relationships. And I also want to look at what it means to build and establish true trust in intimate relationships and friendships. Trust that you can just be yourself. End of disclaimer.)