Sunday, June 27, 2010

State of The Our Union: The First 90 Days

This Saturday marked 3 months of marriage marital bliss - the first 90 days. I figured it was a good time to look back and reflect just a little.

Many well-meaning people ask me all the time - 'So how's married life?' I am sure, most of the time, it is the courteous question to ask - very similar to the 'How are you?': polite to ask but they don't really want to know.

And honestly, I don't always want to tell. Again, I know they are well-intended and are assuming it has been marital bliss. But it is funny - because lots of people will tell you that the first year can be the most challenging, but when people ask how married life is, they just expect you to say 'It is so awesome!'

To complicate a very simple question even more, I am the kind of person who hates to answer, 'Fine!' 'Great!' to the 'how are you' question if my ENTIRE life is not fine or great. Most of it might be, but if there is even just one area that is not, I feel I am being dishonest by saying 'fine' or 'great.' That's just me- black and white, all or nothing. Can make life a little difficult. So I feel a little internal obligation to elaborate (not that I always do - I just feel it), even though the question really does just require a 'fine' or 'great.'

Anyway, I digress majorly. So, the 'How's married life?' question. The first 90 days:

In general, it has been great. I love living with James and having someone around to share a house with. Even with the hard stuff, I like my life so much more being married than single. Single life was good but I just prefer this - as do most people who marry; otherwise, they wouldn't marry. Duh.

It is definitely more work - more laundry, food shopping, cleaning, juggling schedules - and I can't really slack off like I would when I lived alone. But I like doing those domestic kinds of things, so I don't mind.

I have learned a lot about James by living with him, even though I feel like there haven't been any huge surprises. More like - he likes to fall asleep with the TV timer on or a CD or tape playing (usually the Bible or a sermon). He hates having the covers over his feet because they need to 'breathe'; he sometimes has a little bit of RLS (restless leg syndrome - real or imagined I'm not sure, but very real in our house) so settling into sleep is usually a production.

He doesn't eat dinner like regular people. Doesn't require dinner, doesn't always like to have it. So, I figured one of us would be cooking dinner every night...it's not as regimented as I thought.

I've learned what particular foods he likes to have in the house: potato or white bread, not wheat; never light mayo or half-and-half; shrimp and cheese-and-crackers are a favorite snack to keep in the house; white albacore tuna in water, not oil.

He likes to keep his toothbrush in the shower, he does not like to sit in the backyard at night with the lights on (doesn't want to disturb the neighbors). He likes the lines in the carpet when he vacuums, and sometimes he will re-vacuum after I do it because I didn't do the lines right.

These have been some of the fun discoveries.

It has been fun to be able to go away together. We didn't live together before we were married and we saved sex for after marriage, so we didn't really travel together while we were dating.

But it has been fun to plan some short weekend trips. We went upstate Memorial Day Weekend to go mountain biking and we are going camping this weekend for the 4th of July. It is so fun to pack and buy supplies and plan all that together (oh yeah - I definitely learned to have the route planned out AHEAD of time...even if he says he knows where he is going. I should know the route too - it is the job of the co-pilot, so I am told!).

Our relationship itself hasn't changed a lot - but in a way, it has - and it is. The commitment is deeper, and the ripple effects of our decisions (and moods and behaviors) are a lot closer now. The reality is sinking in that we are each other's family now and the first loyalty is to each other - not to our former families, former friends, former hobbies...although those are still in our lives. It is just that we didn't make a life-long covenant with any of these people or things, but with each other. We are one now. Everything we do affects the other.

I feel like we are a little clumsy in adjusting to this reality - we are all creatures of habit so it takes getting used to this - but I am sure in time it will be more natural.

Of course, there are always miscommunications - most of the time the disagreements are results of misunderstandings or not communicating clearly. So, I am having to learn better ways to adapt my communication in a way he understands. Men and women are so different so I feel like I am always taking mental notes when I notice something.

I am also learning that change happens slowly. I tend to be a pretty flexible and can adapt fairly quickly; change takes a little more of a "process" (his favorite word) for James. So even the pace of our adjustments is different - and I am sure the male/female traits are a part of that - so I have tried to keep that in mind too.

There have been other issues we have had to deal with that have made the first 90 days a little challenging and not exactly the way I imagined it would be. We are working through it, which is good, but there were times when honestly, I felt a little sad because I would say to myself, "We shouldn't be dealing with this kind of stuff in our first few months of bliss!"

But who is to say that? Everyone is different - every couple and everyone brings different issues and baggage to the table (myself included - and we all have it). Everyone's relationship and timetable looks different.

So I have had to grow up a bit too, and not act like a spoiled girl but a mature wife and support and encouragement to my husband. Which, by the way, is the whole point...not just to have all of my expectations fulfilled. This is life. This is marriage.

And probably the biggest thing I have learned is this: it's all about me.

Before you freak, this is what I mean: It is all about me - me growing and developing into a more mature, Christ-like person, a quality human being. It is all about me in the sense that I am responsible for myself and how I act and how I choose to change and grow - and that I cannot force that on someone else.

I cannot control James or what he does or doesn't do - how he chooses to grow and change - or even if he chooses to grow or change (He does both, by the way, but my point is that I can't force him). I can only control myself. It is up to me to choose how I handle my emotions, my upset, my state of mind, and what I perceive as right or wrong. It is up to me and God to handle my part of the relationship - and it is up to God and James to handle his part. It is not for me to micro-manage him just so I can arrange my life to be exactly what I want it to be.

I could write more about all this - and probably will at some point - but one bit of advice that I was told I would need to incorporate every day (and they were right) is this:

Always keep giving, always keep forgiving. Give and forgive.

And getting that one down has taken me at least the first 90 days.

So, my final thoughts on the first 90 days: Marriage is wonderful and can be all it is cracked up to be - but it is not for the faint of heart.

8 comments:

  1. ha I can't stand the questions how married life. It drives me crazy!
    And yes of course marriage has its ups and downs even in the beginning, but that's part of life.

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  2. beautifully said my friend...I loved reading about those fun little discoveries after marriage....so cute!

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  3. Great piece of advice! Love the fun discoveries :)

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  4. Congratulations on your first ninety days!!! I am sure it's a challenge when you have never lived together. There is a lot to learn about one another!!! I'm glad to hear it's going well!!

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  5. It sounds like you are doing a great job. It took me years to learn some of these things.

    This was very well written and you seem very wise.

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  7. thank you for stopping by today. people still ask me, two years later, how is married life? for me it was the same as we lived together before marriage. nothing changed in my book. i loved him them and i love him now!!

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  8. Sooo true. I can totally relate. Hang in there though, it will only get better!!!!

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