Oh marriage! What a complex species you are! You lure the unsuspecting into your intricate web with grand promises of “happily ever afters,” Prince Charmings and other Walt Disney related themes. Once we fall prey to your seductive pledge of happiness, we often awaken to something much different...much, much different.
Yes, there were those that told us about the potential pitfalls that would seek to befall us, but let’s be honest; we believed in the back of our minds that, “It won’t happen to us.” Sure, we saw glimpses of things that we didn’t really like about our spouses when we were dating, but the fact that we were married seemed to amplify those minor annoyances. As a matter of fact, most things within the marital relationship seemed more intense. Arguing...more intense. The cold distance after the argument...more intense. No one told us these things about marriage.
Why did we get married though? Surely it was because of something more than just a way to capture what was portrayed to us in an animated film. If you are like me, it was because you found someone that you truly wanted to go through the rest of life with. You loved them. It was unadulterated, unconditional love. You were certain that they felt the same. You could picture buying a house with them, taking vacations and even retirement.
You just knew that your spouse would make a great father or mother and you couldn’t wait to have kids with them. You envisioned holidays together as a family. You even saw far enough into the future where the kids would leave home, go to college and one day have families of their own. You believed in them and you knew when all the chips were down that they would always have your back.
This list isn’t comprehensive by any means. You and I have many more reasons why we married our spouses. Those reasons, however numerous they are, often fly out of the window when things get “hot.” When we fight about those things that we never saw coming - the finances, the housework, her family or his, time management and even sex (or the lack thereof), these subjects seem to take us to another level emotionally and we have knock-down-drag-out confrontations about them. In the heat of “battle” we often ask ourselves, “Did I get married for this?” Let me help you answer the question. Yes, you did. We did.
Please, don’t misunderstand. I am in no way suggesting that we anticipated these emotional battles. I am, however, calling us back to the reason that we said, “I do.” We wanted to do “life” together. Part of going through life together means walking through these difficult fires with one another. So often we try to avoid the difficult conversations, but we all know this leads to the resentment that produces most arguments in the first place. Our discussions can become so heated that over time it leaves us feeling burnt out and not wanting to continue on. This is when the thought crosses our mind of just saying, “I’m done! This isn’t why I got married!”
Can I sound cliché for a moment and say “Just hold on?” Arguments, especially the ones that have been taking place over a period of time; those that seem to be about sex, money, their mother or how you can’t seem to get any help with the kids, beg for our reaction. They plead with us to say and do things that we will later regret. They call on us to storm out, shut down or scream. When the emotional temperature is turned up, it is important that we not react, but that we remain calm.
You said, “I do.” Did you notice that punctuation mark at the end of that sentence? It’s a period. It is fitting because that is exactly what you said, “I do,” period. Tucked beneath the emotionality lies the person that you made this pledge to. That one that you pictured buying a house with, retiring with, raising kids with. Even if it seems that you are far from being those newlyweds who made those promises long ago, admit it, those are the things you still want. This is why you got married. When you feel like reacting, call yourself back to those reasons.