Please understand that this is not meant to be advice. I will not get on my lectern and point fingers at those people who “aren’t doing things right”. Instead, this is just something I have learned along the way that I wish to share because I feel like we are in a good place to do so.
I have only been married for going on four years. Hubby and I were friends for about three years before becoming romantically involved, dated for a laughably short time, and we lived together for a year before getting married. It has been a “never a dull moment” relationship with lots of ups, downs, loop-de-loops, and gorgeous vistas. I have been exceedingly fortunate to have someone in my life who is so dedicated to our relationship. He has fought for us even when I was ready to throw in the towel, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Hubby and I met at work, where our jobs were in different departments. We kept it a secret and maintained our professionalism so that no one at work even knew we were dating. We never showed PDA, we used eachother’s names instead of romantic nicknames, and we maintained avenues of appropriate communication (paging for something instead of texting). No one even knew we were dating until we showed up one day – married. Let’s talk more about that.
We were planning a Spring/Summer wedding but I became fed up with other peoples’ opinions about what I should or should not do. The scheduling was also an issue. By the time we had appeased everyone’s schedules, we would have been getting married in October or November. That was a “no” for both of us; I didn’t want to get married when it was cold outside and Hubby didn’t want to get married on Halloween – like I suggested.
Lying in bed one night, Hubby joked around (for the millionth time), that we should elope. He said that Leap Day was a couple of days away and it would be fun. I said, “Hell yes.”
Certain family members were well aware we were getting married, but none of them knew of our last minute plans to elope. My Mother-In-Law had even taken us dress shopping so I could find a nice outfit to get married in (I didn’t want an expensive dress that I was only going to wear once). No one knew at the time of this excursion that I would be wearing that dress much sooner than anticipated.
The interesting thing is that his mother worked at the County Clerk’s office, at the time. We didn’t tell a soul about our plans and she was pretty shocked when we showed up all dressed up at her office and asked for a marriage license. (She was even more shocked that we weren’t shaking. Apparently, most people have wobbly signatures from shaking so hard while signing their marriage license.)
Since we got married on our lunch break, when we got back to work all dressed up, people knew something was going on. They were floored that we had been dating and living together for so long and they didn’t even know. One coworker even rushed out to WalMart to pick up some Bridal gifts. It was a pretty neat moment.
The next few weeks the information spread around work. I was asked on an almost daily basis about it and I got to show off my ring (that I don’t wear anymore because, apparently, I’m just allergic to jewelry). I was never one to walk down traditional paths so I didn’t want the attention of an engagement or a big, fancy wedding. Still, it was kind of nice and gave me a few weeks of no bad days at work. Who could be upset when you get to flaunt your diamond ring? This quieted the naysayers who kept telling me that, “I should have had an official wedding because every Bride deserves her special day.” That shit made me cry so thanks for that people who supposedly care.
The thing is, after the novelty of all of this wore off, the real issues began to rear their ugly heads. I was distracted with working full time and going to school full time, so it took a little longer than usual. About a year after we had gotten married, I started to notice things and I reacted in a not-so-loving way. It’s a long story and I’m not getting into the particulars. What I have to say is more of a general lesson that I have learned over these short (but seemingly long) years with my husband.
I am a strong-willed and independent woman. This is one of the things that not only attracted my husband, but has also almost caused me to lose him on several occasions. Let me set something straight before I go on – Hubby is exceedingly supportive. He has not been jealous of my independent streak. He has not tried to tame it. He has not put me down for it. Rather, this quality caused some interesting reactions from me to situations beyond my control.
Being independent, I hate codependency. I don’t do things or behave in ways that will prevent people from feeling certain things. I am of the mind that we are all adults and responsible for our own feelings and behaviors. Having said this, I do not go out of my way to be callous towards others’ feelings, I simply do not tip-toe around them. In other words, I am not an enabler of negative behaviors. Hubby does this and for various reasons. Mainly, it was a coping mechanism growing up. It is ingrained in him and I have tried all these years to convince him to stop doing it. It drives me crazy! Whenever I ask him a question about his opinion, he tends to pussyfoot around the answer in the fear that it may upset me. That’s what upsets me.
Not to worry, I have my own “quirks”. My coping mechanism of super-independence has lead me to having a “Waiting for the other shoe to drop” mentality. Why should I wait for someone to hurt me? I can just be overly paranoid about their behavior and dessert them first. Problem solved. I am not hurt and have moved on with my life. Afterall, I have conquered every other obstacle in life this way. Why should this be any different?
Oh, but it is.
This type of mentality is the actual problem. I’m not saying that Hubby was an innocent angel. He has behaved in ways that have compromised our relationship, as well. But you know what? He has been working at that and his improvements thus far are impressive.
Basically, my paranoia that Hubby will behave this way again led me to a “No man hurts me” way of thinking and this simply reinforced the already present “I’ll ditch him before he ditches me” mentality. Several months were spent where it was difficult to be in the relationship. To say we struggled is laughable. We basically clawed our way back to where we are now.
Trust is a huge thing in a relationship. Some people feel, for many different reasons, that once this is lost – the relationship is over. Hubby and I had to work hard to get trust back, from both of us. He had to learn to not cross certain lines, and I had to learn that being apart of a loving relationship did mean trying to say and do things in a less hurtful way. We both had to learn to love one another, again. We still have our bad days, but we are having more and more good days. Hubby is learning to curb his “humor” and I am learning to curb my “Fuck you” attitude.
It’s so nice to go through that initial infatuation stage, but that is not love. It is infatuation. Life will throw things at each of you and at both of you. Love is a purposeful decision to stay together even when you’re both not feeling so loving, anymore. As I said in the beginning, I am so lucky to have a person as my companion that fights so hard for both of us. Even when I’m trying to push him away, he’s trying to hug me. Whenever we fight and I “go for a walk”, he hunts me down. When I say I don’t know how much more I can take, he reminds me of how wonderful life is with him. Marriage is many things, but easy is not one of them. This isn’t a lifelong vacation. It’s a lifelong “Stay until the job gets done” kind of place.
We’ve had our ups and downs, and we will continue to have them, but neither one of us is clocking out early.