Tag Archives: fights

Expectations: Unrealized or Unrealistic?

4 Apr

It’s inevitable as a human to have expectations about something. When anticipating a future event, it’s our natural tendency to picture how it will all happen and what it will be like. It’s also inevitable for the event to never turn out how you pictured it.

For women, this happens a lot with marriage. I personally grew up always dreaming. I dreamed about having a boyfriend: he would understand me perfectly and know exactly what I wanted. In high school, I dreamed about marriage: we would have the same interests and go on lots of exciting adventures. When Travis and I were dating, I imagined what being engaged would be like: I would finally be assured that I was loved. When Travis and I got engaged, I dreamed about marriage: we would finally be able to be intimate and share everything. We would lie in bed on Saturday mornings, watching cartoons, cuddling, and eating pancakes. We would go on romantic vacations and explore the world together. We would be so in love and constantly exclaiming “I love being married!” As the wedding grew closer, I dreamed about our honeymoon: a week of relaxation and bliss next to the ocean; a week of uninterrupted intimacy and romance; a picture perfect world.

But when you think about it, where do the greatest romantic movies end? Right after the beloved couple realize they’re “meant for each other.” If the movie went on (and were anything close in semblance to real life), the movie wouldn’t have such a happy ending. It wouldn’t be an unhappy ending either (not necessarily at least) but it wouldn’t leave you with the feeling that everything is right in the universe.

Rather, I imagine the feeling would be more like how my marriage makes me feel. The sense that there’s great potential for the situation but something just doesn’t sit right. That the movie started off great, you could sense the couple’s love for each other was (and is) real, but their current relationship doesn’t really seem to reflect that at all.

This morning Travis and I ended up in a fight on the way to work. About what doesn’t matter. Something insignificant, really. After I dropped him off and was on my way to my office, I started thinking. When we first got married (which will be a year ago on May 19th) and went on our honeymoon, I had a really hard time. I had been trapped in the expectations mentioned above, imagining that everything would be 100% perfect, romantic, and intimate 100% of the time. But as I discovered the first day in Mexico, even on your honeymoon, your life is still your life. Reality is still reality. When you get married, you don’t float away on the clouds with Cupid to sing love songs and feel butterflies for the rest of your life. Husband and wife are still just as sinful as fiance and fiancee–who were just as sinful as boyfriend and girlfriend–who were just as sinful as man and woman. Since we are the same people before and after said event, the relationship will mostly be the same after said event (obviously with a few exceptions).

I learned after our honeymoon that having expectations about the way things should be, especially in marriage, wasn’t a great thing to have. And I have continued learning this throughout our first year of marriage. I can’t expect Travis to be a certain way any more than I can expect myself to know what I want for lunch next Tuesday. Or what book I’ll want to read in July. Or where I’ll want to go out to dinner on November 15th–or if I’ll want to go out to dinner at all.

Neither can I expect that our marriage will be a certain way. I can’t expect us to be 100% in love and intimate all the time. I can’t expect to lie in bed on Saturday morning watching cartoons–if not just for the fact that we don’t have cable at all nor do we have a TV in our bedroom. I realize expectations cause tension and dissatisfaction when they aren’t realized.

But my question is: what do you do about your expectations? What do you do when what you had pictured your marriage being like isn’t at all what it actually is like? If you desire for your marriage to be a certain way, even after the rose-colored glasses have been sat on and squished, and yet it’s not that way, what do you do? “Change it” would be the easy response. But unfortunately, changing a marriage’s dynamic doesn’t happen overnight or easily, as I have found.

I fear that I still have expectations about our marriage and that those expectations are causing me to constantly compare our real marriage against (what I would consider) our ideal marriage. But is our real marriage ever going to measure up? Do I need to edit my expectations so that they are more in line with what it is actually like? Sheryl Crow says in her song “Soak up the Sun”–“It’s not having what you want; it’s wanting what you got.”

Does marriage come down to wanting what you got instead of getting what you want? Are my expectations about marriage just unrealized or are they unrealistic?

Garbage triggers insight

8 Feb

So last night I was cleaning up the kitchen and asked DH very nicely if he would do me a favor–take the trash out before he went to bed. A few seconds went by and he replied, “Why can’t I take it out tomorrow morning?” I had wanted him to take it out last night because I didn’t want the garbage to stink up our apartment. He wanted to wait until the morning because that is what we have been doing and he didn’t want to walk all the way out to the dumpster in the cold.

To his reply I said nothing. Instead, I went into the bedroom and while I was changing into my PJs, I realized that instead of silently being angry at him–Why does he need a reason? Isn’t it enough that I asked him to do it?–I should go talk to him about my feelings. So I went and told him how I felt and we discussed it for a while. He wanted a reason for taking the trash out at night; I didn’t really have one besides “Because I asked you to.” It was a mature discussion. No angry words were said, no doors slammed, but I still walked away sad, lonely, and feeling misunderstood.

I thought about just going to sleep to spite Travis even though I wanted to read for a while. But I got my Bible out anyway–God shouldn’t be pushed aside just because I was being moody. But I couldn’t concentrate on what I was reading. All I could think about was how I felt so frustrated and how part of me wanted Travis to come to bed and the other part didn’t. And then it came to me: my feeling not understood by Travis was causing me to push him away, both emotionally and physically. I was equating feeling loved with being understood.

As I remembered back to different fights we had had over the past couple months, my theory seemed to make more and more sense. That’s why I was always over-explaining my emotions, responses, and wanting Travis to know WHY things had happened the way they did. During our arguments, even if Travis conceded the point and I “won,” I wasn’t satisfied because I still didn’t feel like he understood me and why I did what I did. I wasn’t justifying anything–just explaining. Ultimately, I just want him to understand me!

So I told him my insight last night and it was a huge stepping stone for our marriage. I learned more about him and his need for logical, rational, step-by-step thinking and he learned more about my whimsical, desire-driven, irrational thinking. But I can’t say how much hope it gives me to know why I have been being so irritable and angry at Travis lately–it has been my response to being hurt emotionally. That doesn’t make it right but it does point the way to the road of recovery.

What is my deal?

4 Feb

This weekend was a hard one for me. I think I cried every day. I’m just having such a hard time in our marriage right now, not because Travis is mean or insensitive or distant. Rather, it’s because I am.

I’m just so discouraged. I get mad at Travis over nothing quite often. So he’s gotten to the point (and I can’t blame him) of always assuming that if I’m mad, I’m mad at him. So if I say something remotely stern or terse, even if I’m not really mad, he thinks that I am mad and reacts. He acknowledges his sinfulness but I can’t help but see that about 90% of our fights are caused by me. I don’t feel like myself. I feel like a b$#%@. I feel like I fly off the handle at any little thing and not just when I’m PMSing. I know that ultimately, it’s because I’m a sinner. I also know that ultimately, I have been forgiven everything in Christ and that with the Holy Spirit, I have the power to conquer my sinful inclinations and desires to fight. But I just don’t feel like I’m winning or making any progress!!

For the past month, Travis and I haven’t gone even one whole day without fighting. Not only do I feel bad about our fighting, I wonder how much other newlyweds fight. I know the first year is supposedly the hardest. But why this hard? Is it this hard for other people? Am I just psychotic?

All I know is that I can’t keep living like this. It is miserable to always be fighting with your spouse, to be angry at them, have them angry at you, walking around on proverbial eggshells or making your spouse walk on them. I bawled in the car again last night and told Travis “Something has to change. Because I can’t keep living like this.” And as I lay this burden at the foot of the cross, I know that I won’t keep living like this–God won’t let me. Praise to Him for His faithfulness!

Learning to love in reverse order

1 Feb

I went over to a friend’s house last night for a “girls’ night.” We watched The Princess Bride, a movie that I have seen way more times than I ever wanted to. So many people love that movie and I, well I just think it’s “okay.”  I’ll watch it willingly and I’m not in pain the whole time but it’s not a movie I would ever choose to watch on my own.

One of the girls who came brought a Chicken Bacon Artichoke pizza from Papa Murphy’s. It is my new favorite pizza. It was soooo amazing! And with bacon on it, you’d think that it would be high in calories. But it only has 181 calories per slice! Even though I’m not a huge fan of bacon, this pizza is fantastic. I will definitely be ordering it again.

When I left my friend’s house to go home, I was really excited to see Travis. But I knew that excitement to see my husband does not equal a good night with him. I can get frustrated, emotional, and annoyed by just about anything. So as I was driving home, I asked the Lord to let me have a good night with him and not get angry.

When I got into our apartment parking lot, I saw that Travis had parked the Pathfinder in our normal parking spot. We signed up for the spot right next to it but there has been this red Chevy Corsica sitting there forever (even though the car owner doesn’t even have a parking spot!). We put a note on the car but then it snowed and was covered up. Plus, I don’t think whoever owns the car uses it often enough to notice changes from day to day. Anyway, since the red car was in our other spot, and the Pathfinder was in our usual spot, I had to park my car about 200 feet away from our apartment door in the spots that aren’t assigned to anyone.

As I walked from my car to our apartment, I wasn’t mad. I was thinking “Maybe Travis was going to move the car before I got back and he just forgot.” When I got inside, I said playfully to Travis, “You made me park far away.” And he said sadly, “Ohhh, I tried calling you to let you know just to park in the spot next to me because no one ever parks there.” “I wasn’t expecting a call so I didn’t check my messages.”

And I was frustrated. A slight cause of it may have been that I felt Travis was saying it was my fault that I parked so far away because I didn’t check my messages. But most of it is just that I’m incredibly selfish and petty. And I don’t feel love for Travis a lot of the time, which burdens my heart with sorrow.

Travis wanted to cuddle but I just wanted my space. I got annoyed when he touched me. So being a nice, understanding guy, he left me alone. I just laid on the bed for a while, not moving. Travis asked me if I wanted to talk. I started talking but the tears started welling up. I broke down and it felt so good to cry on Travis’ shoulder. He just held me and said he loved me, which continues to amaze me since I feel like I deserve no favor from Travis for my often-harsh actions and words toward him. What did I do to deserve such a husband?

And so I see that I am learning to love my husband, and starting to feel love for him again, by being loved when I am not loving…just like our relationship with the Father. He loves us unconditionally, 24/7, when we are most unlovable. And His love moves our hearts to love–“We love because He first loved us.” I know that my Lord is using these trying, confusing circumstances for good and for His glory. I am just beginning to see the rays of light poking through the storm clouds…

The joys and trials of marriage

16 Jan

Last night, Travis and I were talking about the mystery of two becoming one in marriage. He remarked that, when we got married, we inherited each other’s lives. He inherited my family, hobbies, and credit history and I inherited his. While it is easy to see how our families and hobbies have changed us (I would never go hunting or fishing if I hadn’t fallen in love with a man who does!), the other things are less obvious.

When I was single, I could do anything I wanted because I didn’t really have anyone to answer to. My roommates would never comment on my eating 2 or 3 bowls of cereal in a row. No one cared if I didn’t do laundry for a month at a time or spent hours pampering myself with pedicures and face masks. I could read in bed all day or watch movies all night.

With marriage, that all changed. I see my husband every day: I wake up with him, go to work with him, eat almost every meal with him, hang out with him, and go to bed with him. Granted, our situation may be a little different than some (we just moved to a new state in Sept. ’07 where we knew no one). But marriage, by and large, involves spending quite a bit of time with that one other person. 

But then, isn’t that the point of marriage? It’s also the most wonderful part about marriage. You marry the person you’re absolutely head-over-heels for because you’ll see them almost every day for the next (God willing) 50 years of your life.  More than feeling completely consumed with love for your spouse (because as any married person knows, that feeling isn’t there 24/7), marriage is about friendship. It’s about two people sharing their lives so intimately and completely that they forget what life was like without the other person. They start knowing what the other person is feeling just by looking at their face. They know instinctively what their spouse’s reaction would be in a certain situation. When I can sense that Travis is joking, despite his best efforts to put on a serious face, I realize that, little by little, we are growing in oneness.

But there are those situations that serve as a jarring reminder that, no matter how one you can become with one another, you are still two very different people. Over time, the differences seem to multiply: differences in opinions, personalities, hobbies, priorities… You can know your spouse’s opinion without even asking and you can still not agree with it. That is where the phrase “Agree to disagree” becomes useful.

At the end of the day, though, I view all the components marriage as purely rewards. There is nothing I would change about my marriage or my husband. Nothing can beat walking through life with your best friend, who is there to listen, understand and support you. The good times show me how I have been blessed by the Lord’s grace. The hard times show me how I have been blessed by the Lord’s mercy (through Jesus Christ).