Before you get married, you hear way more about how to make the good days stretch than what to do when you have really bad ones. I get that. It’s an exciting time, and people want to stick to the positive. (There’s plenty of time to scare us later, right?) But, in all seriousness, marriage is the only “class” I’ve ever enrolled in where I actually learn something new every single day. The lessons just keep coming — whether I finish my homework or not. Marriage is fascinating like that. I don’t always like what it’s teaching me, but make no mistake, I’m always happy to learn – Man is too. I’m thankful for that, and I’m writing today to share one of the recent and extremely valuable lessons we’ve survived and conquered (we think!) lately with the hopes it will resonate with you in some way — be it that you’ve been there, done that, and can share some wisdom or maybe you’re not quite there yet, but will find it helpful in the future. Okay, so, grab your notebooks; here are the “Cliffs Notes”.
The Lesson: Sometimes Love is Annoying
Even if you marry your dream guy, there will be times when the things he always does to make you smile actually make you frown. Seriously. It may sound crazy, but it’s a reality we’ve encountered recently, and it wasn’t fun. For example, Man has always been great about cleaning up when things get messy because he knows I can’t focus in clutter – even though I tend to leave it behind wherever I go – but for the last few months, the more he cleaned the more I resented him for choosing to reorganize the cabinets over watching a horror movie from beneath a blanket with me. It may sound trivial, but I actually caught myself scowling at him once. (Not my finest moment, obviously.)
We danced around the “tension” for months, but the day we finally sat down to discuss my sudden bitterness and his disdain for it, we learned that it was just another quirk to our marriage and mostly just a failure to communicate. He had begun to resent me for making a mess, something he found to be “endearing” for the last 8 years, and I felt like he loved me less because cleaning excited him more than the ideas of cuddling with me on the couch. (Shame on both of us for judging the other’s behavior without truly putting it into context.) I reminded him that when the sadder I feel, the messier I am. I told him that a lot of the time I could have spent cleaning was devoted to trying to plan things for us to do together because I thought he was getting bored with “us”. He admitted that up until that moment he hadn’t seen it that way, and rather, he saw me more and more as becoming the lazy, irresponsible wife who just wanted to skip out on “grown up responsibilities” and just have fun all the time. (Ouch!) I admitted that the more he cleaned, organized, and rearranged, the more I felt like he was failing to be the fun husband I fell in love with and just a robotic replacement who’d snuck in the back door.
Once we got all of this out, we laughed out loud. He was trying to keep the world around me from being too chaotic out of love, and I was showing my love for him by trying to keep things exciting when I felt we (or rather he) needed it the most. And there it was: Two seemingly loving and kind acts continuously being perceived as failures to the other person. Why? Because sometimes love really is just annoying, especially when you’re judging the circumstances based on your own needs and not those of your spouse. Things between us are better now, and I’m confident they will stay that way. Our habits and efforts may annoy the other person again, but that’s okay. We know how to handle it next time. And step one is assuming nothing, and discussing everything.
Has love gotten under you skin? How did you identify and work through the situation?