The real story of marriage
Marriage is a fairytale.
I know what you’re thinking, “uh, no, marriage is supposed to be hard. At least that’s what they say, right? I mean there are those divorce rates to prove it.”
And you would be right. But marriage is still a fairytale. HOWEVER it is not the end of a fairytale. It’s the beginning.
The happily ever after part doesn’t happen until the “ever after” part when we’re all in heaven and there aren’t any financial concerns, rebellious kids, and sleepless nights to get worked up about.
But all that debt, the misunderstandings, the health problems, the sleepless nights, the screaming children -THAT is the tale part of the fairytale.
Think about it. Before the happily ever after part of a fairytale, the happy couple faces all kinds of adversities. Challenges and afflictions and tragedies. But they face them together, and they face them all so they can have that happily ever after in the end.
However, reaching happily ever after together means partners needs to be proactive. Can you think of even one fairytale when the prince and princess weren’t actively searching and working to find one another and to help one another and to be together? No, there isn’t one. Because happily ever afters require working proactively.
Okay, enough about fairy tales. Now for an anecdote, and not a metaphorical one.
My dear husband and I braced ourselves during our engagement for the notoriously difficult first year of marriage we’d heard so much about. We were ready to brave anything. Well, turns out there wasn’t much to brave for us. Every couple is different, and for many the first year is hard, but somehow it wasn’t for us. Maybe because we were expecting the changes that happen when you live with someone? Who really knows. When I told my therapist about it she was shocked, so even the professionals don’t have an answer.
But it did eventually get harder. Life got harder. We became parents, and that my friends cannot happen without its share of troubles.
On top of our new life roles, I was recovering from surgery and PTSD (acquired during the delivery, but that’s another story…)
Well, we battled the sleepless nights, the inconsolable cries, the I can’t take it anymore’s, and the please take over before I blow my brains’s. And we somehow did it all together. Sure we argued, sure we lost our tempers once in awhile, and sure there were misunderstandings. But it was never larger than we could handle. And we fought through it.
Well, then things got easier. Not easy, but easier. The baby started sleeping better, life normalized, and parenting started getting more fun.
But something was off, and we both felt it. Our marriage was not as strong as we knew we wanted it. Now nothing was really wrong, we weren’t lying or falling out of love or anything drastic, but something was missing.
So we took Chapmin’s five love language quiz. You’ve heard of it I’m sure. We took the quiz when we were first married and found we were both quality timers and words of affirmationers. Maybe that was why it didn’t feel hard that first year… We spoke the same love languages!
Well, through some well appreciated inspiration from a loving Heavenly Father, we decided to take the test again, only to find we had totally flip-flopped to receiving gifts (both of ours), physical touch (the hubby’s), and acts of service (mine).
No wonder we didn’t feel as bonded as we wanted to!! We were trying to show love in ways that didn’t speak as much to one another anymore.
So we decided to be proactive. We weren’t going to wait around for things to get ugly before we started making changes.
We both understood the service and physical touch thing pretty well, so it was the gift thing that we needed to learn how to do.
So I read up on receiving gifts in Chapmin’s book and shared the gist with my honey. We downloaded some kind of “5 love language 5 week challenge” app and started the challenges. We bought a couples game for date nights that offers opportunities to talk and do service for each other (super fun game, I highly recommend it. Just ask me about it sometime.) And pretty soon I was coming home with little trinkets that made me think of my man, and my man was doing chores without being asked and offering to watch the little guy so I could read or take a bath.
The hardest part was learning that it was ok to spend a little bit of money on each other. Not copious amounts for no reason, but dollars here and there were ok. Dr. Chapmin’s book talks about how saving is an investment, and a good one, but when you have a spouse whose love language is the receiving of gifts, spending on them is also an investment. An investment in your marriage. Once we were able to get that attitude change mostly in our heads, it was easier to start speaking that language to each other.
Now, we’re not the perfect couple, but we’re happy. And our marriage is stronger than ever.
Perhaps it wasn’t the love languages themselves. Maybe we just needed to focus on showing love to each other more. But the love languages certainly gave us direction.
For Valentine’s Day my husband binged a little bit and got me a ring. A beautiful diamond and ruby ring. It’s so me, and so perfect. When we got married we could only afford so much, and this Valentine’s Day ring was a dream ring –something that would’ve been out of the question for us when we got engaged. But my husband heard me when I said receiving gifts was a new language I started understanding, and this ring meant so much more than just a Valentine’s Day (oh, and early anniversary) gift. It showed that he was thinking of me when he saw it. That he wanted me to have something really nice. That he cares about me more than anything else. Some might think young college students with a new baby shouldn’t buy such things, but this was an investment in our marriage. Not a frivolous purchase. My wise husband said the price tag could’ve scared him, but the ring was so me he just felt at peace about it, he knew it was the right thing for us.
I still wear my wedding ring, on my right hand. I’ll never stop wearing it. I’m sentimental. But my new ring sits on my left hand right now, because it is a symbol of our renewed promises to each other. A symbol of my husband’s thoughtfulness. A symbol that family comes first. A symbol of a proactive marriage.