Having a healthy marriage is kinda like de-cluttering. You have to work on it a little each day. Some people do this naturally, so naturally that it seems like they never have to do any real “work”, nor do they feel like they have to do much. It seems like these people are just lucky. The truth is that they were just brought up with these specific abilities ingrained into them. Then there’s people like me. People who are so used to emotional clutter that without it they feel naked. For people like me it’s easy to let the clutter build up till one day you feel in over your head and you’re sitting in a restaurant on Valentine’s Day wondering who the f@%# you’re married to.
And this, my lovelies, is exactly where I was on Friday February 14, 2020. I don’t really remember who brought up the triggering question/comment or when I started feeling that fall apart feeling. What I remember is that one minute I’m enjoying my agua de jamaica, and the next minute we were in some deep marriage altering debate. The conversation was what I would call disheartening. It’s like remembering that you forgot to turn off the stove when you’re at the theater in the middle of a really good movie you’ve been dying to see. It’s just a detail but it’s an important one, one that could burn your house down. So too were the details of our marriage that our conversation shed light on that night.
My husband and I spoke some very ugly truths to each other over that conversation. Truths about who we are and what we want, and the toughest pill to swallow- ugly truths about what we think and feel about each other. I have said many times that we are not an easy match. But there is a silver lining. When people are forced to struggle with each other in marriage, it’s very hard to hide who you truly are. What surprised me most about our conversation was how well we both knew ourselves and how honest about everything we were being. It was like standing in front of someone naked and saying “This is me” and that person saying “Woah, you have some serious stretch marks and rolls and cellulite, and I would totally do anything in the world for you, just maybe not the way you want me to and you have to accept that”.
And what response do you give that? Do you submit and say you’ll change, do you react in anger and revenge, do hide your true self so that no one can hurt you again? No. You ask yourself if you have the courage to love someone without losing yourself. You ask yourself if you care enough for someone to allow them to live in their truth, even when their truth is an inconvenience or you hate their decision. You stand tall and say, “This is me. I am not perfect. I am not beautiful all the time. And even though I might hate where you are right now, I love you through this”. And most of all, you make sure that you are loving yourself enough first.
Uncomfortable conversations, triggering, and bad days are healthy when you have two people who are experiencing growth. Growth hurts sometimes. But not being true to yourself hurts more. It’s how you care for each other through it that counts. Like how my husband scheduled me a massage and is planning a weekend getaway so we can pull through all this, and how we decided to get on the same page about parenting by reading a few books together.
In conclusion, the reason it’s ok that every day is NOT Valentine’s Day for us, is because the real test in marriage is not whether every day is Valentine’s Day in your relationship. The real test, is your reaction to the days that aren’t.