Dazed and Confused

“In Love” did something to my mind, emotions, and expectations.  In a haze of hormones,  rose-colored-glasses, and happily every after, I toppled down its fluffy hill.

Six months later; engaged. Six months after that; married.

And then abruptly and painfully, my descent down Love Hill landed me bloody and skewered atop the sharp rocks and debris of marriage.

There were no big-guns issues like infidelity or abuse. No illegitimate children swaddled and left on our doorstep.

Just two polar opposite humans with equally opposite backgrounds committing to “forever” and all the unexpected change and compromise that entailed.

Cute quirks or adorable foibles all the sudden exploded into huge and damaging arguments about how towels were hung or the way “my mom did it.”

Then the bigger areas of difference made their appearance.

Our families didn’t exactly embody marital health. Steve’s parents divorced when he was five. His father was largely distant until decades later. My family was still considered nuclear, but barely, after years of tenuous peace times and all out war.

In many ways it felt we were starting from scratch with very little to go on but,

“We want this to look ‘different’ than how we were raised.”

I had a third shift nursing job I hated that gave me maybe four hours of fitful sleep during the day. In the brief time between when Steve got home from work and I left for my shift, we had to figure out communication, sex, conflict management, compromise, budgeting, boundaries, love languages, and baggage handling.

The differences that attracted us to each other now served as chasms of loneliness and confusion causing deep insecurities and bitterness.

I started wanting out. This wasn’t what I signed up for. I wanted the warmth and the haze and the gooey love. This real life substance was hard to swallow and I was choking.

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But we’d decided one very important thing when we began this crazy dance. One thing that made all the difference. We took divorce off the table.  We were stuck with each other.

We had a choice: to stay as-is and be miserable the rest of our lives…

Or…

Or become something completely new and foreign together.

Then God actually used our children to usher in some huge change for us. In all the collateral damage of sleepless nights and urine-soaked-everything, a huge shift occurred.

Selflessness simply became inevitable, because babies don’t give a rip about others’ boundaries, needs, or preferences.  They laugh their toothless gums at passive aggression.

They want; we jump; they conquer.

And in those sleep deprived, milk-drenched, tear-stained seasons of service to our kids…we started laying aside our pride and pain and became a team out of necessity.

And then counseling began.

Intentional date nights happened.

Words were bitten off and swallowed instead of hurled without care.

Love came back. But not like before.

No fluff. No down hill tumbling. This time it was solid and substantial, full of errors and fights but present and committed and pushing forward.  It was an intentional, difficult, uphill climb away from the past and toward what we could be together.

And it will always be this way for us.

We’ll never be that couple who sets up camp on a peaceful plateau as personality clones.  We’ll be the ones climbing up a mountain side then fighting in the trenches.

And for the first time, I’m okay with that.  Because all we’ve learned and developed over those maturing climbs and humbling descents is more priceless and valuable than the flat road of sameness I always thought was best.

beach

 *****

Trenches

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10 Comments

  1. Pete Stevenson says:

    Thank you, dear niece, for these encouraging words. We’re so proud of you! Keep the faith, and keep on “fighting” for your marriage. Love you. Uncle Pete.

  2. Beautiful, just plain beautiful. And, so very true.

  3. Anjeli Patel says:

    So beautifully stated! Yes, this is true especially when you marry your opposite. Marriage is an uphill battle, but that is what keeps it interesting.

    • Cassidy Doolittle, Guest Author Relations Cassidy Doolittle, Guest Author Relations says:

      It often feels more “uphill” doesn’t it, Anjeli? But often the views are most beautiful when you’re clinging to the side of a rock 1000 feet up.

  4. Beautifully written! Great job, Cassidy! You are amazing!

    • Cassidy Doolittle, Guest Author Relations Cassidy Doolittle, Guest Author Relations says:

      Thanks, cousin! But mom of six, homeschooler of all…you’re the fantastic one I’d argue! Love you!

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