When we first got married we’d argue and we’d fight. I remember trying to go to bed after arguing about something really important like dishes or laundry. In my mind we had entered the verbal boxing ring, and I had one goal: WIN.
He had one goal also: SLEEP.
Finally I’d think of a point SO GOOD he’d fall silent. I was sure he was speechless with my wisdom, and I would let the victory spur me into more knowledgeable insights and quotable thoughts. I was five minutes in before I’d recognize the sound of heavy breathing. He hadn’t just “drifted off”, the man was in some sort of euphoric coma. He had MISSED my moment and he still did not know that I was RIGHT.
I’d turn on all of the lights and open all my dresser drawers just to slam them again. I’d grab my water from his side of the bed by “accidentally” trampling him with all my limbs. When all else failed I would drive around town until two in the morning eating tacos. Finally my passion would dwindle and I would go home, conceding only because I was sure he would be worried, that he’d be awake, and right where I wanted him…in the depths of despair. Instead he was snoring. Snoring is annoying.
We’ve been married almost ten years now. Still we fight. Not as much. But still, sometimes, I bring out all my ugly in front of him.
But I don’t think that’s because my marriage is hard.
We are vulnerable, we are raw, and we show all our ugly, because we are safe for each other. He loves me with my crap, and he tells me to stop it. And that’s what I need. My marriage is my best place to be real. Messy as it may be, it’s my favorite.
In our 10 years (of short) experience, here are 10 things we have learned and live by:
1. Our marriage isn’t defined by the hard stuff. Sometimes all the cars break, and the blender breaks, and I get the kids to school an hour late. Sometimes I set the cooking utensils on fire and shatter a $400 window. Sometimes there are surprise tax payments and a son who decides to put beads in his ears.
There are all the little things. There are also the harder things like miscarriages and broken friendships. LIFE is challenging, but at the end of the day we are on the same team. Our marriage isn’t about life’s obstacles, and we are stronger together.
2.We mess up. We make mistakes and it is not pretty. But we stay, we show up, and we forgive. It’s taken time, but we know now: there’s no better person on earth to fail around than each other. I know that his messes and his ugly don’t make me less, and they don’t make him less either, and then we can fight things together. That’s what best friends do. When I say I’m flawed and I can never change, he says BULL, and he is right. We are better and stronger when we listen and are safe and we forgive.
3. It’s okay to lose it. We’re not each other’s mentors, bosses, or parents. We’re each other’s friends, confidants, and partners. Sometimes after the end of a long day of keeping it together, we fall apart. Because we can. We cry. We say we can’t do it anymore. We let all the thoughts OUT, and it’s good.
4.We are each other’s most important cheerleaders. This man has seen me in sparkly gaucho pants, light blue crocs, and a pregnant belly. He’s with me every morning when I stumble my way downstairs for coffee and can only communicate in grunts and swear words. If anyone knows, he knows, and he says I have what it takes to conquer my dreams. So…I must.