21 March 2012

The first year of marriage: does it have to be hard?

We were talking with a group of people about being married, and the first year together being the hardest for many couples. And it made me wonder if the first year has to be hard.

I know for many people that the first year is a challenge. Adjusting to living together can be hard, especially working through what unspoken expectations you have of everything - from how the chores get divided, to where the shoes get left, to the state of the bathroom, to how much time you spend together (and doing what).

And is it surprising that it'd be hard? Ideally being married means that you open yourself to the other person - become not only physically naked, but also emotionally and spiritually naked. It's hard to trust that the other person will still love you after seeing all your blemishes - and sometimes, despite how in love you might be, there can still be a lot to learn in terms of knowing how to love the other completely.

But does that make the first year of marriage hard by definition? I want to say no.

Part of my no is my realization that I've faced a lot harder times in the past than our first year of marriage. How about teaching 35 hours a week for 3 months? Or crying myself to sleep through much of high school? Or moving to another country not knowing the language and having no one within thousands of kilometres who knew you before you moved there? Compared to those moments in the past, being married has been nothing short of great.

And the second realization was the simple wonder I have that two broken people can come together and learn what it means to love and be loved. You get the chance (actually forced!) to see some of the hidden parts of who you are: the nasty parts because they hurt your partner (or you), and the unspoken expectations when you realize that what you thought was normal was not somebody else's normal. And confronted with this sudden self-awareness, you have the chance to let God work in and through the other person to heal some of the brokenness. Despite the fact that the healing process can sometimes be painful and scary, being healed is an amazing gift.

No comments: