If you’ve been following our story, you most likely know that Jeffrey and I were friends for quite a while before we started dating. If you didn’t know, well here’s a little refresher that I literally copied and pasted from The Beginning because I’m lazy.
September 17, 2015 I celebrated 2 years clean. Before the meeting, I met with some friends for coffee and heard about this new boy in town that had just moved to Cincinnati from Seattle. I tried to call dibs on the first chance at him but was bummed to hear he had already been set up on a double date. After the meeting, a bunch of us went out for dinner to celebrate and he tagged along, we still hadn’t even talked yet.
Right after this picture, we were standing outside, a bunch of us started getting hustled by this 10 year old kid selling candy bars and he told the new kid that he needed to be a man and buy his girl some candy. And so I officially met Jeffrey. We started cracking jokes like we had known each other for years. We very shortly found out we both loved dogs. And that’s all it took. I invited him to come with me to a meeting the following night where my sponsor would present me with a medallion for my clean time. He came to pick me up, Sally peed on his bright white shoes as she excitedly said hello, and we went to dinner beforehand with my family and sponsor and it was like I wasn’t even there. My parents fell in love with him. Not long after that I remember telling my Mom that I would marry him, or if I couldn’t have him, then a man like him.
We were friends. We hung out and went to some meetings and dinner every once in a while, but that was all. I remember when I went to his apartment and met Kilo – what a sweet soul she is (or so I thought when I met her).
But, he never tried to sleep with me so I thought that’s all it would ever be. All I knew was that guys that were interested in me always tried to sleep with me asap and Jeffrey did not do this, only to later find out that he did not do this because he actually did like me. What a concept. So, I decided I needed to spread my wings and wanted to move away. I detached and pushed Jeffrey away because I knew I was leaving and I knew it would hurt so I instead chose not to feel anything. It gave me this false sense of being in control of my emotions when in reality I just didn’t know how to deal with them. So I moved to Florida in January. And we didn’t talk. Just me and the pups in a city we didn’t know, surrounded by people we didn’t know, which in turn gave me all the time in the world to get to know the one person that matters: me. Because of bad past relationships, I had become jaded and thought that there was not much left for me. I didn’t think I’d ever get married or have kids. Through a lot of trial and error, experiences both good and bad, and some serious step work, I learned who I was, what was important to me and what kind of life I wanted (what part 1 of this post was about on Wednesday). I fostered quite a few dogs while there because it was just what I felt like I should do. Living in Florida was hard and I do not think I could have done it without Jack and Sally. They made me not feel so alone. I found self-acceptance and in that came complete freedom.
My sister was getting married in June and by about May my mom casually brought up that she thinks I should ask Jeffrey to be my date to the wedding. I thought what the hell, he will be a fun date. So I asked him and we started talking a little more and had our usual fun cracking jokes on each other. I remember one time he FaceTimed me while I was in the bathtub and I text him and told him why I couldn’t answer and he goes, “Just hold the phone above your neck, dummy. I don’t need to see anything.” But that’s not why I didn’t want to answer. As much as we would like to think we look like mermaids when we’re soaking in the tub, the reality is we look like trolls with wet, stringy hair, red faces and sweat running down our cheeks. Or at least I do. So, he called again and this time I answered. He didn’t make fun of me, he didn’t even care that I looked awful or was in the tub, he didn’t try to be inappropriate. He just talked to me like a human being. And yet again, another piece of the puzzle snapped into place. He made me feel safe. By the time I came home for the wedding, I knew I valued him as a human and wanted him in my life, no matter how that looked. I got home a few days before the wedding and we hung out every moment we could. The wedding was picture perfect, down to the moment when we were in the photo booth and he kissed me for the first time. I remember being shocked like oh, he actually does like me. When I went back to Florida, we decided to not see other people even though we weren’t exactly sure what was going on with us. Both of us separately knew that we were done with the games and had a serious conversation about what our intentions were. Plain and simple, if we became more than friends, we were dating to marry, not dating for the hell of it, not dating to get laid, not dating to have some arm candy. And that’s not to say those things are wrong, because I’ve absolutely dated for those reasons before. When you’re young and want to see what the world has to offer – dating for fun is probably the smart thing to do, just be honest about it. But what I realized was that whether I was honest or dishonest about my intentions when I was sleeping with whoever I wanted, I never felt very good about it, as you read about in my last blog post. So, we talked. We talked every morning. We texted during the day, FaceTimed for hours after work, and just got to know each other better.
One day he referred to me as his girlfriend and I said, “Wait! Did you just call me your girlfriend?!” And that was that. And before you know it, the 10 year High School Reunion that I was convinced I would never go to, sounded like a good excuse to visit home. Of course, Jeffrey came with me. I had already been thinking that I wanted to move home so I had a few job interviews while I was there. I received two offers making much more than I was at the time which allowed me to make the move back to Cincinnati in September of 2016.
We dated long distance for a few months so when I moved home, we kind of had to figure out how to make time for each other in real life. We were both busy and lived about 30 minutes apart. But, it just felt easy. I was at such a good place in my own personal life and headspace that I could still kind of just take it or leave it. If we didn’t work out, I would have been sad but knew that I was already okay. He asked me to come to Seattle with him over Christmas to meet his family. I remember laughing when I bought my plane ticket because it was like four months away and that is a HUGE commitment to me. Remember how I said no guys before him lasted more than a month? And though he did, I knew that I was liable to change my mind on the drop of a dime. I was so fickle and capable of walking away from someone without giving it a second thought. And to make plans that far in advance was a big step for me to say to myself, “Okay, I like this man. I can see a future with him. So buy the ticket. You owe it to yourself to allow yourself the opportunity to grow.” We made plans for him to come with me to Mississippi to see my brother, sister in law and meet my new niece that I had not met yet.
So, all was fine and dandy, but by October, the novelty of dating someone new wore off, and though it absolutely was still fun, I think life smacked Jeffrey in the face and he broke up with me right around Halloween. Because I was still very much in miss independent mode, even though I was sad, I was more mad than anything because I felt like he took the easy way out so I put one foot in front of the other and made a decision to just be. Like F him, I wasted a bunch of money on a ticket to Seattle and they wouldn’t let me cancel the trip to use at a later date. I blocked him on social media because I’m the type of person that will drive myself crazy stalking the shit out of an ex and end up hurting my own feelings because no matter what I find, I can make it personal and make it about me. Knowing I didn’t want to do that, I put a stop to it before it could even start. I let myself be distracted by attention from others because I didn’t want to feel sad about not having Jeffrey. But, one week from when Jeffrey said he couldn’t do it, he texted me wanting to talk.
As much as I would love for him to tell his side of the story, I’ll have to fill you in the best I can. Apparently that week was pretty rough on him. He talked a lot to his cousin and aunt about what was going on and explained to them what he couldn’t explain to me before he broke up with me. He was struggling because he was afraid I was “it.” He was afraid that I was going to be the girl he’d marry and that was a very foreign feeling. He’d been in two very serious relationships (one for 9 years and one for like 4-5 years) and said he never once thought about marrying either of them. So, to be 35 and find someone that he felt like was his equal, I think it was just unchartered territory for him. Anyway, he felt progressively worse and worse that week and the pain was great enough that he prayed about it and said immediately the feeling lifted and he knew what he needed to do. I guess he realized I had blocked him on all social media, so he reached out to my sister and told her he thought he had made a mistake and she said, “Well, I don’t know why you’re telling me, you better talk to her.” I wish I still had the text he sent me. I know Jeffrey does because he wrote it in his notes before sending it to me – if you’re lucky, he might screenshot and post it in the comments on Facebook.
So, he told me how he felt and that he made a decision based out of fear and would like to try again. I, understandably so, was a little leery and proceeded with caution. When he broke up with me, I immediately put that wall back up. I was scared. Scared of putting my faith and trust in someone for him to just leave. I had been in relationships where it was a breakup every other week and I told him I refused to be in one like that again. He understood and was willing to give me the time I needed to become comfortable again. I think he finally got a little frustrated with me because I was wishy washy about whether or not I wanted him to still come on the trip to Mississippi. So, I decided to stop with the games, since that’s what I revert to when I’m hurt, and plunged back in head first. To fill in what happened between then and the time we got married, I suggest reading the post Expectations. It’s worth it, you’ll see the cutest proposal ever.
I originally started this post about a month ago. I was sitting in the bath tub one night thinking about how marriage is not all it’s cracked up to be. I was annoyed and frustrated and needed to get some things out of me and down onto paper. We’ve been married six months today. It’s been the hardest six months of our relationship. Now, while I know that I’m by no means an expert on marriage, the following is my experience.
Marriage is arguing about who did the dishes last or whether or not the dogs were fed and given their medicine. It’s going to bed angry. It’s waking up angry and lying in bed thinking, “This #@$%* better come give me a kiss before he leaves.” And no matter how mad he is, he always does. It’s knowing he’s hurting and allowing him to sit in it because you’re not emotionally mature enough to make it any better. It’s picking fights with him because you’re not getting what you thought you signed up for, knowing full well what you actually signed up for. It’s getting mad because you thought he was going to change when you got married. And I don’t mean any of the main things, just the little things that annoy you. You thought he’d pick up after himself more, pick up around the house more, sweep and make the bed. And even though he never did that before, you thought magically this was when he’d come to his senses. Marriage is arguing about that over and over and finally understanding when he tells you, “I don’t see the house the same way you do. I don’t get home from work and see this huge mess that needs cleaned up immediately. I see the dogs and the couch and I want to sit down after a long day.” And still being mad because first of all, he made a really good point, and secondly because you wish you could see the house that way. But you can’t. So you do the cleaning. And that’s just the way it is. Marriage is knowing this and not being able to let it go so you let everything pile up just to see how long it takes to pick up a broom. It’s asking him to fix the leaky sink in your bathroom and after he continually says he’ll do it, but it doesn’t get done, you just turn off the valve to the cold water because that’s where the leaky pipe is. (It’s been since before we got married, and it’s still not fixed, but he did pick out a new faucet over the weekend. It’s still sitting on the dining room table.) Marriage is so easily forgetting those vows I made to always offer grace when he falls short.
It’s me nitpicking and nagging and telling him that I don’t want to be that kind of wife but I don’t know how else to communicate to him that I need something. Marriage is not seeing all the things he DID do around the house, because you’re too focused on the one thing he didn’t do. It’s feeling underappreciated and undervalued. A lot. It’s knowing that you speak two different love languages but still getting mad when his first instinct isn’t to speak in your love language. It’s putting your foot in your mouth more times than you’d care to admit. Marriage is knowing you’re wrong and being nasty for no reason, and wanting to stop but physically not being able to. Or maybe that’s just being a woman. It’s being on the front lines with him every day, up close and personal with all the battle wounds and wreckage of the past, and while most of the time you apply pressure to stop the bleeding and help start the healing, sometimes you see those insecurities and you intentionally dig into those wounds a little bit deeper. And get a sick sense of satisfaction out of it. It’s knowing how to hurt someone and not always making the decision not to. It’s making mistakes and learning the hard way.
When I was done, I didn’t want to post it because it was very negative and while it allowed me to see my part in it, I was not in the solution. I was scared of how you all might react, that you might think differently of us after realizing we’re not the picture perfect beings you see on Facebook. When people put #relationshipgoals on our posts, I feel like a fraud because, while none of the stuff we post is fake, you don’t often see the ugliness that can occur behind closed doors. So, that’s why I decided to post Part 1, the backstory, first. You read all about my baggage and can see that just because I let go of some of it along the way, sometimes I decide to pick it back up. It slowly and quietly sneaks in and creates chaos in my life. But everyone has it. And then I thought, I can’t be the only girl that has felt like this, that marriage doesn’t live up to our insane expectations of a false reality created based on fairy tales. Even if not many people relate, I’m sure at least ONE will. And that is who this post is for. It’s for you so you know that you’re not alone and you’re not crazy. Everyone thinks and says that newlyweds should be super in love and nothing but a bundle of joy. And I wanted that. I expected that. So, when my own baggage crept back up and got in the way, it was a disappointment, which perpetuated the cycle even more. The fantasy that the world stops spinning just because we get married. As nice as that sounds, the real world is still out there and real life things like household duties, bills, jobs, dogs, family, and friends don’t disappear just so we can live out this dream life where everything is perfect all the time. I was afraid that he didn’t love me because he didn’t say it or show it the way I expected – based on someone else’s idea of love. And when I don’t feel loved, I forget that he picked me. I forget every good thing about him and brand him as the enemy. I forget my own self of self-love and self-respect and I allow myself to act in a manner in which I would never want to see someone else treated. When I don’t respect myself, I don’t respect my husband. But, because he’s so close, I don’t see it in the moment. I don’t see just how damaging I can be.
My drug of choice is no longer heroin. My drug of choice is fantasy. I allow myself to get so caught up in what I think you think my life should look like, and then wonder why I’m so confused when things aren’t working. I’m too busy trying to force my hand, instead of letting God hold my hand and lead the way. Somewhere along the way, I stopped trusting that He had me, and thought I needed to take control again. And it happens all under your nose without you even realizing it. I KNOW how peaceful my life is when I’m living in alignment with God’s will for me, yet it’s so easy to fall out of alignment.
Sanity is living in harmony with reality. What a simple, but bold statement. Acceptance. It’s that easy. Acceptance doesn’t mean settling. Acceptance means letting go of your preconceived notions of what you thought something should be to allow room for it to be what it actually should be. And that’s the hope shot for me. Allowing the beautiful relationship we built to blossom once again because I give it room to breathe. I can stop suffocating it with my expectations and resentments and my fantasy. It’s realizing that anything we argue about is 99% miscommunication. As much as I get frustrated that he doesn’t think like me, if he did, this would be an awful relationship. So instead of continuing to fight it and fight him about it, I can surrender and let him be who he is – the man I fell in love with in the first place. I can walk a little softer and speak a little nicer and touch a little more gently. I don’t have to be harsh. And I can practice grace. Since the lightbulb went off that if I’m not the problem, there is no solution (for the 100th time), I’ve made even more mistakes and allowed myself to get back in the self-pity that is so dangerous for people like us. It’s like putting a loaded gun into my mouth. Pity takes me to a place of desperation. And quickly. That’s when I lose touch with the woman I am supposed to be and revert back to the woman I used to be – cold, calculating and miserable.
Back to what I said earlier; marriage is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s so much more. It’s allowing him to slowly break down that wall that I was absolutely convinced was completely torn down before we even got married, and letting him back in again. Acceptance. Acceptance that he’s here for the long haul and he’s not the bad guy. When I think he’s not working with me, I automatically think that must mean he’s working against me. He always has to remind me, “We’re on the same team, babe,” because I forget. I forget that he picked me. I forget that he loves me. I forget that wants me to be the mother of his children. Marriage is climbing in bed at 8 PM on a Saturday night, and as he puts his hand on my arm (usually over top of the five dogs in between us), knowing there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
It’s letting your wife take the 17th picture because the first 16 weren’t good enough. And then seeing on Facebook that she posted the very first one anyway. It’s putting on a party hat and singing happy birthday to your dogs for millions of people to see. It’s taking a half of day off work to hang out with each other and go see a movie. Marriage is inside jokes and more laughing than I was ever prepared for. It’s looking at each other when we’re out in a crowd and knowing exactly what the other one is thinking. Marriage is making mistakes and then being the bigger person and apologizing first. Marriage is honesty. It’s saying uncomfortable things because I know that it’s my responsibility to tell him my needs even when I think, unrealistically might I add, that he should just know and understand and meet all of them all the time. Marriage is smiling when he tells me I’m his person. It’s taking the rare moments that he directly speaks my love language and holding on to that until the next time. And until that next time, it’s knowing that just because there’s not a big show of love and affection, that he loves me.
Marriage is lying in bed watching him say goodnight to each puppy and making sure everyone is tucked in because he knows I think they get cold. It’s being excited to see him as a father, to human children, since we all already know what a great Puppy Dahd he is. Marriage is being in the same sweatpants and hoodie when he gets home from work five days in a row and he just laughs and tells me how beautiful I am. And me not believing it but still feeling grateful for his acceptance.
It’s not having to hide your crazy – trust me, he “jokes” about how once the engagement ring was on my finger, he saw a whole other side of me. It’s him making me crazy but never making me feel crazy for being crazy, if that makes any sense. Marriage is enjoying packing his lunch some days and hating it others. But always reveling in the cup of coffee he brings me each morning. Marriage is caring enough to not give a shit. It’s realizing that I can’t expect him to be the only one to show love and affection, if I want it, I can go get it. Marriage is picking up each other’s slack and cutting each other slack. It’s reminding myself over and over that we don’t live a fairy tale and to hold him to that standard is unfair.
I thought I had it together enough to no longer need validation or love from anyone outside of myself. And I’m truly beginning to understand that it’s okay to need someone. It’s okay to not do everything yourself. We can’t make it through this world alone (that doesn’t mean you can’t make it through this world single, just that we need people), and I’m not sure why I continue to convince myself that I can make it on my own. Marriage is loving someone so much that you can no longer imagine life without them. Is Jeffrey my best friend? No. I have a few (that’s probably exaggerating a bit) close friends I talk to every day. Am I his best friend? No. He has an amazing group of guys that I don’t even come close to. But I hold a title no one else ever will, a title I never thought I’d have – wife. And he holds a title that no one else ever will – husband.
Marriage is so much harder than I ever thought, but only because I’ve made it that way. And it’s a better high than anything I’ve ever experienced. Everything is so much better. The daily monotony of life, the morning conversations before work, the sex, the fights, the love, the hand holding, the truth that he is mine and I am his, it’s so much better. Marriage is knowing that God created this perfectly imperfect human being for my own perfectly imperfect self and there is absolutely no one else in this whole wide world that I would rather stumble through this life with.
Maybe sometimes we just need a quick reminder of what our marriage is all about. We made commitments to each other instead of vows because the word commitment means so much more than promise. This is the first time I’ve read them since saying them six months ago.
I take you to be my husband. I will love you unconditionally and without hesitation for it is your heart that moves me, your spirit that inspires me, your humor that delights me and your hand I want to hold for all of our days.
I commit to choose you, and only you, every day, especially on the hard days.
I commit to follow your lead, to keep you in line, and to always be on your team.
I commit to support and encourage your dreams, and to stand by you in your disappointments.
I commit to not keep score, even when I know I’m the last one that fed the dogs or wiped their paws, and I commit to not kick Kilo out of bed as long as you deal with her when it storms.
I commit to remain faithful, to treat you with respect and admiration, and to offer you grace when you fall short.
I commit to always be ‘no ordinary girl.’
I accept you as you are and I have only myself to offer in return, and I commit to us as long as there is love in our hearts.
Babe, my favorite part of every day is you. And though I will be the one to fall short, I hope you’ll offer me grace – unmerited favor.
My Unsolicited Advice is simple. Practice grace. Show your partner grace. Show yourself grace. Show your relationship grace. Allow what’s supposed to be, to be.