If my life were a romantic comedy, the Mr. Man and I would now be exactly one month past when the credits would’ve begun to roll, indicating that the goal, marriage, had been reached and that there just wasn’t much more to tell. After all, how much real excitement could happen if everything else can be summed up in “happily ever after?”
Because real life often isn’t like the movies though — well, maybe some dark indie comedy but not really the they-rode-off-into-the-sunset blockbuster variety — I’ve made a habit out of asking newlyweds whether married life is what they expected. Now, because I obviously have a lot of insightful things to say given my four whole weeks of experience, I thought I’d write a blog post answering my own question: Is marriage what you expected?
Marriage is Hard
The most common thing that friends have said surprised them about marriage is how hard it is, which always surprised me because it seemed that since they could still count the number of days they’d been married it shouldn’t really be hard yet. After all, they should still honestly be in the mists of believing that the sun shines out their spouse’s butt, right?
Well, I feel like I get it now. Or at least I’m starting to.
Marriage, even only the first four weeks, really is hard. There are so many changes, especially for couple’s like the Mr. Man and I who also moved in together for the first time after the wedding. I love the fact that we waited to move in together but it did make for a lot of changes. New apartment — I’d never lived in an apartment before. New name — or at least I’ll have a new one once the paperwork is finally all figured out. New immediate family — a husband is so much more than a roommate because, unlike with a roommate, I don’t even have my own closet or bed or anything, really. We share everything (okay, well, not everything because my toothbrush will always be off limits).
In addition to all the changes, there’s also a lot to figure out together. How much money will we budget towards food? Do potato chips count as “food” or does that come out of the piggy bank dedicated to random crap? What time should we eat dinner? If we eat soup every other night would that be “too often” or simply fantastic? Which way are mugs stored in the cupboard — up or down? How many evenings a week do we watch TV or a movie together? How many evenings should be screen-free? How much time do we dedicate to our introverted need to recharge individually? What time do we go to bed? Do we go to bed at the same time? What temperature should the thermostat be set at? Are we eating enough veggies? What are we doing for Christmas? And so on.
So many changes, so much to figure out. And in the midst of it all, life still happens.
Life’s Still Messy
As we drove away after the wedding, family waving and hugging and wishing us well, I felt elated. Despite anxiety and grief leading up to the wedding for a variety of reasons, things had gone smoothly. I’d enjoyed myself and, while it might not have been perfect, the wedding was beautiful and I loved it. As he drove to our apartment, I sent out a mass text I’d written earlier that day announcing to friends (our wedding only consisted of immediate family) that we were now, officially, hitched. So happy.
When we got to our apartment, we carried my last couple of bags and a few wedding presents upstairs. I waited on the porch, shivering but happier than a kid on Christmas morning, as he brought everything inside. “Your wife is getting cold!” I called in after him. At that, he came out and carried me in fireman style.
The day was lovely. But, to no real surprise, I also ended up crying later that evening because my daddy hadn’t been there. While the grief certainly didn’t ruin the day, I was aware of the hole where my dad should be — especially during family pictures — and I still cried once I arrived at my new home. Life’s messy; sometimes it’s happy and sad all at the same moment.
The Messiness of Adjusting
Things have continued to be messy in their own right as we’ve gotten more adjusted. I was sick most of the first week and had to go to the doctor. You know, going to the doctor for bladder infection medication less than a week into married life is one of those things they seem to leave out of the films. We both had the stomach flu over Thanksgiving. And my anxiety disorder made things interesting for the first two weeks as I began to relax from all the pre-wedding stress and get used to the apartment. I’d wake up in the middle of a panic attack almost every night because the neighbors upstairs were vacuuming at 2 am again or sometimes because I wasn’t sure where I was, which meant that neither one of us got a decent night’s sleep until I’d gotten at least a little used to sleeping in the apartment.
And, when I finally thought everyone was well and things were going a bit smoother, I knocked myself unconscious by running into the side of the bathroom door. Yup. So, currently, I’m home from work with a concussion (please note, if there is an abnormal number of typos in this post, that’s probably why).
Things Are Beautiful, Too
In addition to the messiness, we’ve had a lot of fun too. He took me to the Seattle Symphony for my Christmas present, introduced me to the BBC show Sherlock (and, next, I’ll introduce him to Doctor Who), and we started reading The Princess Bride and Jesus Feminist before bed. We’ve gone grocery shopping, unpacked a few more boxes, practiced saying my two new favorite words — husband and wife — and bought Christmas presents for our families. We’ve listened to Christmas music while doing the dishes, discussed feminism while cuddled up on the couch, and talked abut theology and modern American Christendom as we drove home from a Christmas-y date in Seattle.
He’s also reminded me again and again of exactly why I married him as he’s had plenty of opportunities this month to live out the “in sickness” part of our vows. He’s brought me breakfast in bed when I was sick and continues to now that I have a concession, cleaned the entire apartment when my to-do list was longer than my stamina, and held me tight when I needed it.
It’s been quite a month. We’ve planned and dreamed. Cried and giggled. Kissed and apologized. We’ve learned new things about each other as our own insecurities and fragility and, sometimes, brokenness becomes more evident. And we’ve learned new things — or at least I’ve learned new things — about ourselves, too.
Yes, marriage is messy and it’s hard work. And life seriously doesn’t go according to plan sometimes (concussions, for example). But, nonetheless, for whatever my few weeks of experience is worth, I think being married is beautiful.