A funny thing happened in blog-land this week. One of my blogger friends, Leah, had an “Ask Me Anything” post, encouraging her readers to ask her absolutely anything they wanted. I’m nosy when it comes to other bloggers’ personal lives, and so I really do sometimes take those “Ask Me Anything” opportunities to ask things that I’ve always wondered, but under normal circumstances wouldn’t ever ask. So, I asked Leah, “What have been both the biggest challenges and the biggest blessings both in being married, and becoming a mom.”
Today, for her Wedded Wednesday post, Leah answered my question about the biggest challenges and blessings in terms of being married, and then challenged us to post our own difficulties and blessings. And since it was my question to begin with, I feel pretty obligated to participate ;)
For us, I think the biggest challenge is communication—and specifically, how we communicate when we disagree. Growing up, our families tended to be very different in this way. When Justin’s family has disagreements, they tend to hash things out loudly, right away. I have never seen them be disrespectful towards each other, but they certainly yell and get loud. For Justin, that’s a normal form of conflict resolution.
Growing up, I really don’t think I ever saw a major fight between my parents. I can’t recall ever seeing or hearing them raise their voices at each other. I saw them disagree with each other, but it was resolved privately. It was a blessing not to be aware of my parents fighting, but in some ways it was also a bit of a curse, because I didn’t really see how they resolved those conflicts.
So when we disagree, unless we really check ourselves through the process, it can have a tendency to look like this: Justin will quickly get loud and defensive. I will get upset, start crying, and ask him to stop yelling. He will yell, “I am NOT YELLING”, and then say the meanest thing he can think of. I completely shut down and I will retreat to our room and refuse to talk to him. Then I hold a grudge for days.
[For the record, neither the saying the meanest thing he can think of nor the holding grudges for extended periods of time are things we learned from our parents. They’re just our own bad habits, and we both acknowledge that they exist.]
We’re getting better at it though—and I think even just now being able to identify it as an issue and why it’s an issue is a huge strength. I think for both of us, the most helpful thing has been to intentionally give each other some space right when we start to get upset, WITH THE PROMISE TO TALK ABOUT IT LATER. It’s been suggested that we even set a specific time to talk later, which is something I’d like to implement.
In high school, I had a string of friends who died. It was really hard for me, and I still have a bit of a complex that anyone I end up becoming close with will either die or move away. Consequently, I have a hard time opening up to people sometimes. Justin doesn’t let me get away with that. He calls me out when I start to push him or someone else away, but in a really supportive way. Justin has absolutely shown me how to open up to people, and has affirmed with me that it’s worth it, even if that person does die or move away.
Additionally, it has been such a blessing to know that our marriage is someplace that I will always be able to receive support. I really can’t think of any instance where I’ve wanted to do or try something, and Justin hasn’t supported it. He’s a constant source of encouragement, and a safe place to go if I fail. He is incredibly quick to forgive, and often has already forgiven me before I’ve asked for forgiveness, which is a blessing beyond measure.
But I agree with Leah, in that perhaps the biggest blessing of all has been in knowing that this is a lifelong partnership and covenant. I believe that some of our friends and family members expected our marriage to fail because we were married at such a young age. But it will not fail, because failure isn’t an option for us. And knowing that, I sometimes feel like it makes us both fight harder to work things out and resolve situations. Even though we’re complete opposites in a lot of ways, and I often hear from friends as the reason that the relationships or marriages of my friends dissolve, we choose to look at that as a blessing—that we’re complimentary to each other, and help to balance each other out. And I firmly believe that Justin does balance me out and I balance him out—together, we’re stronger than we are apart, which is an incredible blessing!