Thursday, January 1, 2015

On 9:30 AM by Teef 3000 in , , ,    No comments

As I reflect on my first year of marriage, I have joy-filled thoughts of my wedding day. I recall wearing that ivory dress, feeling like the prettiest woman in the room, professing my love and commitment to my partner of eight years. The dancing, partying and the drinks flowing until the wee hours of the morning; the excitement of the wedding night, finally being able to listen to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and follow his directions without having to repent on Sunday.

I remember feeling overwhelmed with the happiness of finally being able to live together; the day my husband and his children moved their belongings into our house was one of the best moments of my life. Our first combined holiday celebration with our siblings, nieces and nephews interacting as family was beautiful, not to mention the attention of everyone doting over the newlyweds and expressing pure happiness for our union.  We were finally a blended family and everyone around us was just as happy as we were.

After about a month or so of basking in the afterglow of the production and housing changes, things started to change without warning, our loving relationship was now filled with arguments and tears.  It didn’t take long for my husband to start rearranging furniture, painting walls or to remove my books from the bookshelf and replace them with a surround sound system. I remember turning on the stereo to start my weekend cleaning ritual and instead of hearing R&B pouring out the speaker, I now heard house music turned up to 100 rocking and shaking the house. I immediately called him at work, yelling and screaming about my CDs, frantically asking him where he put them. I felt my personal space was being invaded, as if I was lost in my own home.

Not long after this we had a huge blow up over my spending habits, about how my impulse shopping was not good for our ultimate financial goals. I felt that the money in my paycheck was my money and I could spend it how I wanted to. Who was he to tell me that I spent too much on an item? He felt as the head of the household, it was his right to express his concerns about my spending habits and that we should consult one another when making big ticket purchases. After weeks of arguing over everything from leaving a cup in the sink to spending time together, we began avoiding having difficult conversations altogether. I’d retreat to one room and he’d retreat to another. Our conversations were generic. Our passionate kisses had become lackluster hugs. We resided in the same house, but were living separate lives. Only to pretend to be the happy-go-lucky couple at social events.

For the life of me I could not figure out what we were doing wrong. This was not what I signed up for. I wasn’t naive to think there wouldn’t be bad days, but I didn’t expect them to come so fast and without any end in sight. Eventually, I got the courage to ask my husband if we made the right decision in getting married. His response was the turning point in our downward spiral. He said that he made the decision to commit his life to me and if I wanted to go he loved me enough to let me. He said he hoped that I loved him enough to allow him to fulfill his commitment. He reminded me that as long as we stayed together we could get through anything, but we had to be willing to do the work. With this response, we started the work.

Our approach was to engage in an honest and opened dialog. We used safe words when the conversation started to turn into a debate or argument. In the end, we realized that we could not change each other; we could only make changes within ourselves. We decided that we would work on ourselves and the way we approached and responded to situations. We knew we had to be honest with ourselves and figure out who was better at what task and assign those tasks accordingly. We realized that communication and honesty is the key to a successful marriage. We also had to trust each other with everything and accept each other for who we are as individuals, flaws and all. We had to work as a team and stand in alliance with one another no matter what.

The last decision we made is a little cheesy but it works for us. We made the decision to watch our wedding video or look at our pictures when we hit low points, this way we will always remember our vows and the commitment we made in front of our family and friends. We can see our smiles and the joy that day brought us.   Every time we watch the video we silently recommit to one another.  

Lastly, we constantly remind each other of the most profound advice given to us by a couple at our church who were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary during the week of our engagement announcement. They told us marriage was not always going to be a 50/50 partnership, the ratio can shift at any given moment and at any given proportion; when the bad days come, don’t throw each other out of the house, pick a neutral space and simmer down. They said if one is angry and out of the house whose shoulder will that spouse lean on, you don’t know, but what you do know for certain is that it won’t be yours. The last piece of advice they gave us was marriage is a boat ride and as long as we rowed together and didn’t jump ship, we’d make it through any storm.

Mahogany Hall


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