Around this exact time seven years ago (the time I started this post, not after resuming seven hours later), I was getting my bridal herr and make-up did. It was the crack of dawn in my hometown of Los Angeles, CA, as my dad fed me fried Trader Joe’s perogis in the middle of the Korean hair salon because he knows how intensely I fear hunger, even on my wedding day.
My bridesmaids were ready and willing to assist me to the spacious, handicapped toilet to make room for my big poofy dress, but my nerves hit, not about the wedding but about the audience around the toilet. Thankfully, I didn’t have to poo minutes before walking down the aisle.
Marriage has kicked my ass, setting a mirror before me, forcing me to look at sh*t I never wanted to look at, like what am I really really REALLY afraid of and why.
Sometimes I wonder if above ALL other fears, I’m most afraid of letting the joy flow. Afraid of taking a deep breath and gasp!, not blocking my own joy. I got so used to emotional turmoil in the household growing up, though those years are decades behind me, that it became a comfort zone of sorts.
So if I were to let the joy flow, what would that look and feel like? And what if I get robbed of it and end up in more pain than ever before? Now how searing would that pain be?
I’m just taking a stab at it. I don’t know.
It’s been a tough couple years, raising our two blessings 99% on our own, forgetting about who we ever were as a starry-eyed couple.
I used to think that when couples cited “communication” as the reason for their failed marriage, they just didn’t want to tell us the REAL, scandalous reason for the divorce, but seven years later, I get it.
I didn’t fully get it when fellow Christians would say, “Jesus MUST be part of your marriage. You can’t do it on your own, no matter how much you think your love conquers all.” Now, in the middle of full-blown fights, I scream, “PRAAAYYYYYYY! I’m too weak so YOU BESS PRAY! RIGHT NOW, let’s just stop fighting and you pray. Out loud!”
I used to think “date night” was as gross a term as “playdate.” “Date night” as in, “Don’t forget to do date nights!”
In all honesty, I was like, “OK, white papples, RELAX about date nights!”
And now, though I still don’t like those two words together, I get the spirit behind it.
You MUST remember what it feels like to be the bride and groom and not just co-parents discussing sexy topics like diaper prices, grocery lists, soccer classes, Sunday School, naps, preschools, bath toys, chicken tenders v. pizza, naps, naps, naps, bedtimes, birthday parties, timeouts, free shipping and acceptable french fry intake per week.
It has been a real challenge to do these DATE NIGHTS without local grandparents to provide free childcare (and bonding time with their grandkids). To give us a breather TOGETHER. Makeshift date nights in our toy cluttered living room have also become impossible for the past year since bedtimes for our firstborn are late no matter what we’ve tried. Excuse after excuse, he wants to join us and because he shares a tiny closet of a room with baby bro, we don’t let him wail it out.
This is one source of deep bitterness on my part, a real inability to radically accept that this is how we must do parenthood, without real breaks to exhale TOGETHER. At least for now.
This means that whenever one of us is released to get some Me Time (most of the time, ME, since Kevin feels so bad that I moved to NYC for him and have no childcare in the early stay-at-home mama years), I am out alone. Necessary but not sufficient. Me Time started becoming just plain Lonely Time since it’s nearly impossible to have time alone with the boy I married.
And I dreaded writing this because I imagined choruses of, “Well, at least you have Me Time/ two healthy boys / a helpful husband…” or a variation of that. (As a blogger, I always fear them imaginary responses from my eight readers).
So I can’t wax poetic about how I wouldn’t have it any other way(!) on my seven year wedding anniversary. Because I would be lying. And because that is yet another phrase that annoys the hell out of me.
But I can say this:
For better or for worse, this sweet kind man I married seven years ago has been my Ride or Die. Sure, sometimes, we focus on the Die part, wanting to straight kill each other for the argument (different configuration). The infinity loop of communication roadblocks.
I want to do better. I want to break the cycle. We both come from homes where marriage equals deep pain, blame and unrealized dreams. We want to do better. We must do better. Not just for the kids but for us. And for the vows we took before God.
Thanks to our church and spiritual communities, we have been blessed with marital teachings and resources galore. THE HARD PART IS TO ACTUALLY FOLLOW THROUGH AND OBEY.
And I have such a rebellious spirit under all this model minority packaging.
Please pray for us as we go forward in our seventh year.
[P.S. I loved the spirit of Ride or Die so much that I was going to end with yet another phrase “‘Til the wheels fall off…” then looked it up to doublecheck and realized that that is exactly the opposite of wedding vows.]