Last Saturday afternoon I was pulling weeds in my garden. I felt a tickle in my ear. I thought it must be sweat, but then the tickle turned into a flutter… inside my ear. I quickly realized, there was a bug in my ear. Oh! My! Gosh! I ran to the house in a panic and told my husband. He immediately armed himself with a head lamp, q-tips and a syringe. After about 10 minutes, he got the bug out of my ear.
I have to admit, 11 1/2 years ago when we started dating, I never thought him digging around in my ear would be part of our relationship. Neither did I envision him cleaning up my puke or running out to buy me tampons in the middle of the night. Yet, all these things have happened since we’ve been married.
The point of all the gross stories? To show that marriage is more like the stories I just mentioned than those we see in romantic movies or read about in books. Marriage is real life, and real life doesn’t change as soon as you say “I do.”
I had friends in college who just wanted to get married. It got to the point that they didn’t care who they married, as long as they got married. To everyone who ever feels this I say the same thing: Marriage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. If I weren’t married to the right person, there’s no way it could have lasted more than a year.
So in my experience, here is what marriage is not.
Marriage is not falling asleep in each others arms every night and waking up each morning to kisses and romantic gazes. Guess what marriage doesn’t erase: morning breath. It’s a reality. You still wake up and need to go to the bathroom and brush your teeth. And your spouse does too.
Marriage is not agreeing on everything. Though I love my husband more than I thought was possible before I knew him, we argue, disagree and fight. The difference is, we can’t walk away. We have to work through our disagreements and learn to forgive. There are some things we’ll never agree on and we have to be humble and selfless enough to live with that. What matters is that we agree on the most important things, like what standards we agree to uphold as husband and wife and parents.
Marriage is not endless nights whispering sweet-nothings into each other’s ears. Books like Twilight totally ruin relationships for people. People just don’t talk to each other like that. Yes, we say “I love you” and we frequently tell each other how important the other is to us. But we don’t constantly stare into each other’s eyes and talk about how we’re nothing without the other and how when we’re not together all we can think about is each other. Often our nightly conversations rotate around completely random things like our favorite TV shows or about strange things that happen to us, like bugs flying into our ears.
Marriage is not perfect make up and high heels every night. I used to be so judgmental. I looked at wives in sweats and messy buns and vowed I’d never be that woman. My husband would always come home to a wife with hair done, make-up on and dressed to kill. Between two kids, several jobs and everything else I’ve had to do over the years, that vow didn’t last long. As I write this, I’m sitting on my couch, next to my husband and wearing yoga pants, a t-shirt, no bra and I’m assuming my hair is still in it’s messy bun. I wouldn’t know since I haven’t looked in the mirror in at least 7 hours. But I know he still loves me.
Now let’s talk about what marriage is.
Marriage is WORK. Too many marriages fail due to financial strains, illness or job strains. My husband and I have stood with each other through financial demise (meaning 0 income for several months), a pregnancy that left me bed-ridden and puking for months, and several jobs. We can’t check out when the other gets sick. If my husband has a cold, it’s my responsibility to get him medicine, bring him snacks and make sure he has enough to drink. It’s his responsibility to do the same for me. That’s marriage. You can’t bail at the first sign of trouble. There will be hard times that require you to push yourself physically and emotionally beyond what you thought you were capable. But if you work through these times and don’t throw in the towel, your marriage will come out stronger than you thought possible.
Marriage is loving each other no matter what changes. My husband and I have both had weight fluctuations over the years of our marriage, we’re both much grayer and more wrinkled. In a truly committed marriage, this doesn’t make the love stop. Love can’t be based on physical appearance. I never met a person who looked the same at 70 as they did at 20. Go into a marriage realizing things will change, but these changes can make your marriage stronger.
Marriage is comfortable. I never thought I’d be so comfortable around someone. I don’t feel like I have to dress up to be with my husband. We don’t have to fill every silence. I don’t have to hide my bodily functions or pretend I’m not human. Being with my husband is as comfortable as being alone. This is because I know he loves me and I love him, and no amount of make-up, or lack thereof is going to change that.
Marriage is the best thing I’ve ever done. Yes I’m strong enough the stand on my own, but I’m better and happier with my husband. They say all good things are worth fighting for and I’ve found that to be true in marriage.
This whole marriage thing is not what I imagined it would be when I was 16 and there are times it’s so hard I understand why so many marriages fall apart. But marriage is also the best decision I’ve ever made because I waited for the right person and the right time.