On Oct. 1, 2016 I married my husband. The day was amazing. We got married in a big, beautiful church in downtown Flint covered with stained glass and so much character. We laughed and danced the night away at the historical Durant ballroom just down the street. Seriously, I would love to go back to that day filled with so many people that meant so much to us.
I could talk about our wedding all day. But that’s not what this blog is about. Let me first say how much I love my husband and that I am happily married. (Also not what this blog post is about). What I want to talk about is how HARD marriage is. Why don’t we talk about that more? That’s an actual question I’m asking you, not some hypothetical thing to think about and never actually answer.
My husband Steven and I got married when I was 27 and he was 26. Some would consider that “getting married later in life.” I’m not kidding. By this time we had been dating for about a year and a half and we still had a lot to learn about each other and ourselves. We had a lot to learn about be a husband and a wife.
My confession: I am a very imperfect wife.
Every time I think I have something figured out, I take two steps back. Why? Because I’m stubborn and am convinced I am always right. I’m only kind of kidding here. I cannot tell you why it’s so hard just to stop when I’m in the middle of an argument knowing I’m being so beyond ridiculous. It’s like I’m thinking to myself “I know I should stop saying what I’m saying right now because I sound crazy,” and yet I don’t. Ego and wanting your spouse to see things from your point of view is crippling and damaging to a marriage. Talking about it, however, helps.
My husband is very patient and together we are perfectly imperfect. I know that’s cliche, but it’s true. Neither of us are perfect, but I think the hope is that one day we will embrace each other’s strengths and weakness and balance each other out, learn from each other and become better because of it. It’s crazy to think that there's these two people, who grew up in completely different worlds for decades, learning how to be their own person, and then bam! They are married, living together and navigating life together. You see how crazy that sounds when you look at the big picture, right?
It’s not logical! We aren’t all of a sudden married and then it’s all puppies and rainbows, laughter and smiles. Marriage takes work! So why is it that we don’t talk about that more? We talk about “finding the one” and “following your heart.” I apologize to all the Disney fans, but life is not a Disney movie or a fairy tale. And believing that or believing that mistakes mean failure, is what kills marriage.
Here is what I believe is my biggest imperfection as a wife: I put unrealistic expectations on myself about the wife I should be and I put unrealistic expectations on my spouse for the husband I think he should be.
But here is what has helped:
Seeking out and listening to wiser couples than ourselves. They have great advice and often show us that what we are going through or dealing with is common, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
Surrounding ourselves with people who don’t just agree with us but tell us when we might not be seeing the full picture and then point us back to our spouse.
Joining a small group with couples who are also new in their marriage, growing together, and encouraging each other.
Realizing what works for one couple doesn’t have to work for us. Comparing does nothing good. Comparing overwhelms you with negative thoughts that will nothing but damage a marriage. Focus on each other and focus on how to be better together.
Pausing. It sounds simple. But I’m horrible at it. Pausing when I want to see everything from my perspective and nothing from my husband’s perspective, would save so many misunderstanding.
What does marriage look like to you and what is its purpose in your mind? Who do you know in your life that might need your support? If your marriage is going through a rough patch, what can you today -- right now -- to make it better? You can always change your perspective and your actions. Always.
I believe in marriage. I believe that many (not all) marriages fail because the work is just too much or just too hard and couples give up instead of work through it. I also believe finding people to talk to helps. Marriage is HARD. Let’s talk about it and support each other. Let’s stop pretending like having an imperfect marriage is taboo and uncommon. Let’s be real and authentic. Because marriage is also beautiful, strong, life-changing, and worth it.
Written by: Sarah Elkins
Pictures by: Two Kin Photography