The Mess and the Miracle of Marriage
Written by: Holly Carrington
Marriage is... dynamic. It's a living, breathing thing. It's finishing each other's sentences and trying to decide if you have the energy to listen to them extol the virtues of a hobby you find absolutely pointless (Pokemon Go).
We've been in really difficult, dark places where we've both felt lost, but I've also found myself in this marriage and have been able to grow and change, embracing the mess and the miracle of marriage. If our marriage was a portrait, it would be a Jackson Pollock one, covered with layers and layers of chaotic colors and shapes, occasional white space that's at once completely strange but beautiful.
This culture we live in makes it seem like marriage can be so easily put aside and not worth fighting for. I strongly disagree. Had we not gone through the drama of being in those hard places, we wouldn't have gotten to a better place of trust and understanding. To this day, I'm amazed we've been able to forgive each other. I remember someone defining forgiveness with these four statements: I will not dwell on this incident. I will not bring it up again and use it against you. I will not talk to others about it. I will not let it stand between us.
Have you reached that point in your marriage or in a relationship with someone that you either need to forgive or be forgiven?
Interestingly enough, during the time when our marriage was hard, we discovered something. I found out that I was pregnant. Now we really had to make a decision on whether we could survive this storm now that there was another life that had been brought into our current messy lives.
We did the work, diligently, groaningly. We went to counseling, a small feat considering I never thought my husband would be open to it. We lost some friends. We gained more friends. We cried, we bickered, we went to prenatal appointments. I stress ate so much ice cream. I journaled, I prayed and I discovered that I was capable of changing those unhealthy habits that had lead to letting my guard down on my own heart. I had to change some things about myself. My husband also had to change some things about himself.
I know that every marriage can't be saved.
I'm writing this as a love letter to those who have been judged, been at a low point, made mistakes but yearned to repair their marriages. Is marriage always sexy? I have a baggy pair of pajamas pants and a Netflix habit that says otherwise. Does marriage mean you lose yourself in the midst of compromise and schedules and kids? Definitely not. I think as I've developed a stronger sense of who I am and what I need as an individual, it's made my marriage better because I can speak my truth and we can go from there. Does marriage require you to change, heart-wise? I would say yes. Every great commitment causes a change within you, right? Your first job, your first time trying something new, your first moment after seeing those lines on a pregnancy test or getting a phone call with the news that a diagnosis isn't hopeful.
I remember hearing that marriage is like a crucible, a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development. Able to withstand a high degree of heat. Able to face each other before you've had your first cup of coffee. This isn't for the weak!
We don't have this whole marriage thing down. The other night, I scrolled through my phone while my husband scrolled through his phone, saying hardly a word to each other. One time we set up a romantic date night only to get tired halfway through and came home to watch movies in our PJs. We've seen each other at our absolute, mind-blowing, mug-hurling worst. Yet, he's my safe place. He's my main sounding board as I over-think, over-process and over-analyze everything. I'm his refuge against the pressures of being the main breadwinner and his comedic relief when he goes into super serious places. We've welcomed babies, we've wept as we lost one. He truly gives me energy, on those hard days, when nothing has gone right and I'm letting the kids watch a second hour of shows and then he appears. I get energy back, I'm ready to turn off the TV and start engaging again. It's a powerful thing when you notice the tangible ways in which your spouse makes you better.
Keep fighting, lovers. In a wedding card from my parents, my mom penned this advice and now it's firmly written on our hearts: If you're going to fight, fight for your marriage. And I would add, find some trusted friends who can journey along with you and not judge as you say how your partner drives you crazy sometimes but how lucky that his crazy meets yours, right where you are, just as you are.
Holly Carrington is a wife, mom and freelance writer in Olathe. She loves to write about the joyful chaos that comes with being mom and detailing all the fun and failures that go along with that. She enjoys date nights, getting to finish a hot cup of coffee and oversharing feelings with great enthusiasm.