Friday, January 11, 2013

Good, but Not Easy

"How's married life?" they ask. It doesn't make a difference who, it seems that the majority of people ask me that since I got married in September. It is an obvious conversation starter, since I am newly married, and marriage does happen to be one of the most important events in one's life. "It's good!" I respond. Perhaps not the best response if you are trying to continue a conversation, but what else am I going to say? The conversation fizzles out quickly and with a, "say hi to your husband for me!" we part ways. As I have this conversation more and more times, however, I become dissatisfied with my response. Not necessarily for the lack of encouragement of conversation, but the lack of depth and meaning. It's simply too surface-y, and seems a bit misleading. After a while I feel like I'm saying: "Perfect! Married life is perfectly perfect! Both of us are always loving and kind, and even when we do have disagreements (which hardly ever happen) we always forgive and ask for forgiveness right away. We have spontaneously become fully sanctified, so marriage is a breeze." So untrue. Don't get me wrong, I think my husband is great and marriage often is really good. But "it's good!" leaves out so much of the story. 

Yes, marriage is good, but it is by no means easy. It is by no means perfect. And it is not always wonderful. Yet I think many times married couples mislead others (entirely unintentionally) by saying "it's good!" when people ask how they are. Almost everyone is willing to give out marriage advice, admit that their marriage is not perfect, and even tell others what worked for them to resolve an issue that they used to have, but so often, we lack people who will share what's going on right now. We need--I need--someone to tell me, not only that their marriage isn't perfect, but what they struggle with, what God is teaching them about that, or even the fact that they don't really feel like listening to what God is teaching them and would rather pout or get angry or continue in whatever it is that God is proding them to give up. 

Prior to getting married, I had no idea that marriage could be this hard. Sure, I knew that there would be difficult times, but I never expected to see so many faults in myself, so many fears, insecurities, frustrations, offenses, sins. Nor did I anticipate finding so many faults in my husband, or rather, I expected to find lots of faults, but the ones I found I was not expecting, and they bothered me more than I thought they would. 

I know a lot of newlyweds. Many of my friends have gotten married in the past couple years, and we have chatted some about marriage. I've asked the oh-so-common question, "How's married life?" and gotten the response, "It's good!" And for whatever reason, conversations about marriage don't go deeper than that. Maybe I haven't done an amazing job encouraging conversation, and to be certain, marriage is not an entirely public affair. Nevertheless, I am certain that many engaged and newly married couples would benefit from knowing that the marriages around them are not perfect, and that newlyweds are not beaming with happiness all the time as the stereotype, and even some people they know may lead them to believe.

That isn't to say that I think married couples should go around talking about how bad their marriage is, or every little disagreement that comes up, but I do think that it would benefit others to be a bit more open and honest about our struggles. But then, that is one of the reasons that I am writing this blog: to share honestly about our marriage, not only the good or what we have learned, but the struggles as well. Because EVERYONE struggles in marriage--even (maybe especially) newlyweds.

My new answer to that oh so common question is still not a great conversation continuer, but it is more honest. And even though it may not share specifics of life right now, it opens the door for conversation about it, if one chooses to ask, and clearly admits that our marriage is not "perfectly perfect," yet is good. How is married life, you ask? It's good, but not easy.


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