Marriage is hard and other musings

Posted on August 13, 2013

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Beautiful wedding couple

When you get married, people tell you things like Marriage is hard. Marriage takes a lot of work. If you’re single, you may even hear this from your married friends when you an express a desire to not be single. {As in: Just you wait! Marriage is a lot of work!}

Certain thoughts may go through your head when someone tells you this. Like: What are these people talking about? It can’t be that hard; everyone I know gets married. Or: How difficult can it really be? You do stuff together, you have sex, you fight and then you make up.

When I was single and people would tell me how hard marriage is or how hard the first year was going to be, I had to do everything in my power not to roll my eyes at them.

My husband and I have been married for almost five years now. That’s like nothing in the world of a lifetime of commitment. But this is the one thing I can say I’ve learned for certain about marriage: Yes, there’s hard work to be done. Most of that work is work that I have to do on myself.

A few days ago, because I was finally feeling better and could get out of bed and do something other than read, my husband decided that it was time for some feedback. So he sent me an article by a mom who realized that her Type A, control freak tendencies were causing her to constantly rush her toddler rather than enjoy their time together.

Hmmmmm.

Here’s the thing, for those of you who don’t me very well. I am a Type A, control freak. I am also extremely, extremely sensitive about any kind of criticism about the way I parent. {Calling it ‘constructive criticism’ or ‘feedback’ doesn’t make it any better, either.} So I got this article and I read it. And you know what?

It did pertain to me. A lot actually.  Trying to run a business and simultaneously staying home with a small person who makes a quick trip to Target into a several-hour long excursion means that, yes, I am very crunched for time and yes, I do tell my child to ‘hurry up’.  Every day, in fact. I recognized the truth there. I recognized that I probably need to be a bit more patient with this precious human being who makes everything (and I really mean everything) into an adventure.  I probably need to chill the fuck out.

When I got this article and I finished reading it, I did something I rarely do. I acted like I was grateful for the feedback.  “Thank you for sending the article,” I texted to my hubby. “Very relevant to me!”

Here’s the truth, though: Even though a small part of me was the tiniest bit grateful that I read the article, a big part of me was pissed that he sent it. Because, really, who does he think he is? This is a person who can’t even multitask. And what does he know anyway? When was the last time he had to juggle getting groceries, seeing clients, returning emails, running errands, scheduling playdates and cooking dinner in the same day?

Exactly.

But I decided that if I always act angry when my husband tries to give me feedback, we probably aren’t headed in the right direction. So I pretended to be much more humble than I felt and thanked him for sending it. I patted myself on the back for my outstanding relationship skills and decided I was no longer going to tell my child to come on already. Problem solved.

Then today, I get another article link from my husband. Here’s the title: The 3 Ways you are Sabotaging Your Relationship.

WTF?

But I read it. It was long and it was by Deepak Chopra and, as promised, it explained the three ways people sabotage their relationships. The whole time I’m reading it my child is trying to grab the phone out of my hand and is pulling on my shorts and screaming, “Mama! Mama!” {And you know what? Not once, not once did I tell him to hurry up. }

Do you know the most common way people sabotage their relationships? By being control freaks.

I’m sensing a pattern here.

I get a follow-up text from my husband about the article on relationship sabotage that says something like: I think we both do this! Let’s talk about this when we have some alone time together.

Here’s the thing, though. We both don’t do this and I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want feedback. I don’t want to hear constructive criticism about how my controlling tendencies are probably aggravating my husband to no end. I’m not really even sure why I don’t want to hear this but I don’t. I always tell my coaching clients that feedback is a gift. That honest feedback is an essential step to necessary change. Ha! Unless you’re on the receiving end of it, that is.

The truth is that I’m actually dreading this conversation. All of this recent criticism seems to be coming after my clean bill of health earlier this month. I’m wondering if my husband’s been storing up all of his frustrations with me inside because he didn’t want to stress me out (you know with the heart condition and all) and now that I’m cured, the floodgates are open. Now I’m going to have to suck it up and hear him out. Now, I’m going to have to do some work.

See what I mean?  Marriage is hard.

Not just marriage, either. All relationships. All relationships are really, really hard. Nothing is easy; nothing is effortless.

We are complex, complicated human beings with myriad different life experiences and perceptions. To understand each other we have to communicate openly and this requires a great deal of vulnerability and humility. And you know what? I hate that, actually.  It just doesn’t feel safe.

Well, at least to my ego it doesn’t.

Relationships are hard and relationships aren’t safe for egos. Sounds like something a yoga teacher would say.

Because as much as it sucks to have to listen to what you could do better, to hear how you could love and appreciate someone more, at the end of the day, you know that you’re not alone.  There is a shoulder to cry on. There is someone to celebrate with. There is someone who feels your pain and holds your hand and makes you laugh when you feel like crap.

There’s a lot of work to be done in relationships. There are a lot of misunderstandings and things we could improve. But I’m banking my business, {my life actually, too}, they are definitely worth the work.

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