On Marriage, part 1: It's Okay to be Difficult


I started this post wanting to give an overview of a marriage book Jordan and I recently finished reading together called Love & Respect

I found, however, that I had much more to say than I thought. The post was getting long, so I decided to split it into two parts. I admit this was mostly because I figured it would have a greater likelihood of being read as a shorter post. In the next post I'll talk specifically about the marriage book we read together; this post serves as the introduction to why I even wanted to read any marriage book in the first place.

In the first few weeks following our wedding, I thought it would be a good idea to jump right into reading practical marriage books to "get off on the right foot," so to speak. We'd gotten a few for our wedding (because people do get you things you didn't register for), and for some reason I didn't think it would be a problem to just skim through a couple.

Case in point: on the drive to San Antonio for our honeymoon, I flipped through one of the books and read off and on to Jordan when I found something particularly interesting or funny. 

This, obviously, only served to continue my pattern of making terrible decisions and cause me to wonder once again if I should just save Future Me the trouble and hire someone to make all my decisions for me. (If you picked up on that subtle Friends reference, well done.)

Thanks to my initial perusing of the three marriage books, Jordan still remembers with a certain fondness the (thankfully) short period of time during which I freaked out about every tiny argument as though it was the beginning to our downward slid into an eventual heartbreaking divorce. (And yes, I realize that sounded neurotic; and no I'm not normally like that for the most part.)

I calmed down a lot after a timely phone call from my mother a few months after we entered wedded bliss. She called me just to ask me how I was doing and then said something that changed my entire outlook: it was okay if I was finding the first year of marriage difficult.

It was exactly what I needed to hear. 
Because I was, in fact, finding it difficult.

Not impossible by any means, just difficult. Jordan and I get along well, and my friends and family can attest to the fact that he "handles" me well, as my mom likes to say. Whatever that means. But we're both first children. Stubborn. Prideful. Competitive. Add that up and put two people together under one roof, and it's not hard to understand why it wasn't immediately smooth sailing.

Although it certainly didn't help when I talked with a few of my newly married college friends who were having "so much fun" being married. "Don't you just love it?" they asked me. "People say the first year of marriage is hard. But it's not for us. It's so easy!"

Needless to say, those conversations stressed me out. I wasn't finding it so easy. What was wrong with us? And what was wrong with me?

He annoyed me. I annoyed him.
But I was a newlywed, and we were getting more annoyed with each other than we did when we were dating!

This all sounds ridiculous even as I write it. Of course I knew that getting married wasn't going to make me not annoying. It wasn't going to make him not annoying either.

I just felt like everyone was finding it easier than I was.

So my mom telling me that it was okay if I was finding it difficult was exactly what I needed to hear. I told her how I'd been feeling and what my friends had said, and she reassured me that it was all okay.

Since then, I have calmed down and lot. The past 10 months have come with a learning curve, but it's been fun and new and different like nothing I expected.

A coworker and I got into a conversation recently about this marriage seminar she and her husband were taking at her church. She said they were reading all these marriage books and mentioned Love & Respect. I immediately said, "Oh! Do you like it?" She said no, which got me to thinking about why I did like reading it.

So that's what I want to talk about in my next post. Because although I'm obviously not one of those people who finds the first year of marriage as easy as others, I'm having a blast, and it's totally worth it. I'm learning a lot about myself--how I react to things and how my reaction directly affects someone else. I'm still annoying--and honestly don't see how I can ever not be. But this book--when read at a respectable distance from the wedding itself--helped me look at things differently, and it's even helped us calm a few arguments. But that's for another post.

For now, I'll just sum this one up: 
Is it difficult? Yes. 
But I'm honestly okay with that.
Julie said...

Amanda, I love that book. Brian and I attended the conference at our Church a month after getting married. Since then, in the last five years of marriage, we have referenced many points from that book. We are also talking about doing the book in our small group. I obviously do not take everything they say, but they make some good points mostly on communication. Communication is a key in marriage!!! glad you are reading it and I hope it does help!!!

Emily said...

You know if Steve and I had married any earlier - this is exactly how I would have felt as well. We didn't get married until after 8 years of dating - but those first 8 years weren't easy sailing. Not to say that it always gets easier - but I think every relationship has it's ups, downs, lulls, highs. No matter if you are married or dating. I think it's completely natural to feel this way. I am interested to read your part 2. Thank you for writing such an honest and heartfelt post.

Patrice said...

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