Marriage Messes You Up

After returning to our home from lying poolside for a little over an hour I was admiring my slowly darkening skin and I thought to myself, “I feel so relaxed and refreshed.” It occurred to me, I love lying by the pool in the sunshine and reading. This isn’t a new revelation to me as much as it is something I needed to be reminded of.

Having been home schooled all through my life, I used to love the Pennsylvania months of May and September when all my friends were trapped within the confines of a building only left to admire the sunshine from inside while I was able to don my swimsuit and bask in the sunlight with my school book in hand. During high school this was a regular afternoon routine for me. In college, we got out of school in early May and my schedule was not so full in September that I needed to cut this part of my day out of my routine. For many years I enjoyed this luxury.

This year, I assumed I would have less time to lay beside the pool because of being married and having work and home responsibilities that were greater than when I was in school. I do have more responsibilities now than before, but not so many that the pool had to be cut from my schedule and I have been determined this week to make this relaxing activity a “must achieve” on my to-do list each day.

When it comes to spending time lying by the pool there are a few factors that have caused me to neglect making this a priority this summer. One would be my new responsibilities, and then the other reasons would be silly such as the pool is not right outside my door as it is at my parent’s and I have to share it with other people now. But these are silly reasons. What this whole thing has caused me to recognize today is how marriage kind of messes you up.

Now, for you non-Type-A people out there it may not be such a big deal. But for a routine-setting, schedule-organizing, to-do-list-fanatic, marriage kind of messes with you. Before marriage I did a number of positive things everyday: as stated before I would bask in the sunshine and read a good book, I had a daily quiet time without a time limit, I exercised 5-6 days a week with a program, I completed chores organized by specific days of the week, I had a bedtime that was not broken, I drank over 8 glasses of water each day, I read every day, and low and behold we had a date night set aside every week. Upon getting married, instead of simply incorporating my new, dearly loved husband into MY schedule it all just fell apart instead.

My new husband did not set out to destroy my schedules and routines and to-do lists. He actually, in one sense, married me because he loves my organization and discipline. But when you get married it is not simple fitting another person into YOUR schedule, it is completely re-configuring a brand new schedule that you have never seen before. Back to the drawing board if you will.

As I expressed this to some of my in-laws over dinner in a humorous manner a few nights ago, one of them said, “it takes a year to get back on track.” Why did no one say this to me at the beginning of marriage? Not that this re-configuring has caused any strife or turmoil, but it did cause some discouragement. Numerous times I have felt like a failure because I have not taken care of myself or our household as specifically and daily as I felt I did before marriage. And we are 367 days into our marriage and I am just now beginning to feel as though I am pulling things back together. Workouts, water intake, to-do lists completed, quiet times, poolside sunshine, etc…

For the newly-weds or those soon-to-be brides, take heed; your husband will not purposefully pull you away from the ways you currently take care of yourself, your spiritual life, your disciplined ways. He actually wants you to continue doing all of these things that are good for you and your soul, but he wants to be a part of it and he wants to spend time with you and he wants to do things together. It might take you only a few weeks or months for you two to figure out what things can be done together and what needs to be done apart, but don’t worry, you’ll figure it out. And you won’t be able to do EVERYTHING together, and that will be ok. But take your time figuring out what things go where and which ones will be done together. Prioritize, be patient, and communicate. And it might take a year. And that’s ok.

Perfection

This week has been a whirlwind. And so was last week. And so will next week be. I’m used to a busy schedule. I keep things organized within my calendar (thanks to a great example from my Mom) and do a fairly good job of getting to everything on time and completing my daily to-do lists. But last week and this week have been wearying. I was so sleepy last week, which is to be expected at least one week of the month so it didn’t bother me too much. But to experience a second week of feeling weary is throwing me off. There is the feeling of not only sleepiness this week, but of weariness. When it happens two weeks in a row I can see it in my eyes. When someone else says, “you don’t look good” its one thing, but when you can see the weariness yourself you know something is up. I can recall a handful of times in the past 4 years when I’ve experienced this kind of weariness. Bags form around my eyes, my schedule is filled to the brim, my eyes are not as bright, and while I continue to make accomplishments and rise out of bed at the appropriate time each morning, there is no satisfaction in it except that I am anticipating the end of some busy week or some big event that is keeping me so busy.

But this post isn’t about weariness necessarily. It is meant to be about where my mind goes, or has gone during this bout with weariness. The past two nights, though we retired early as usual, my husband and I laid awake for a bit talking and feeling too awake to sleep. I expressed my feeling of weariness and he pulled me close and informed me that I need rest. Not just sleep, but rest. That is what I have him for, to remind me about rest and to remind me that a Sabbath is necessary and to make me take it.

The second night (last night) as I, once again, expressed my feeling of weariness and he reminded me that need for rest, I delved a little farther and shared with him my feeling of failure this week and last.

In high school, I heard a speaker at a youth group retreat speak highly of his wife. They had 4 adopted children and he was sharing how wonderful his wife was as a wife and mother. Apparently, she rose early every morning, before he got up, went for a run and had breakfast on the table and ready to go before children or husband stirred from bed. I do not specifically remember him saying anything beyond that, but I’m quite sure she was stupendous in house-keeping and cooking and completing to-do lists as well.

This image stuck with me. While this small story about his everyday life really had nothing to do with his message, it stuck to me. “I want to be her” was my thought. I shared with my husband what, in my mind’s eye, I want to be as a wife. The house-keeping will always be kept up with and the to-do list will be completed by the end of each day, a workout will be completed and healthy food will be served. Not to mention a successful business, a balanced calendar, a consistent relationship with God, and plenty of time for friends and building relationships. Without outwardly laughing at me (because it was not funny at the time, obviously) my sweet and sympathetic husband, while holding me close, said to me, “so, you want to be perfect?”

“Well of course I do want to be perfect! I just want to…..”

get it all done, accomplish things, be amazing, be….perfect.

Yes.

In order to not say “I want to be perfect” because obviously that’s impossible and I would never say that, I opted for a better phrase,

“I want to be Superwoman.”

“You what?”

“I want to be Superwoman”

While you are probably laughing at this it was not funny. It was said in sincerity and somehow my husband caught that and, again, did not outwardly laugh at me.

We discussed this a bit more and I realized the absurdity in what I was saying without admitting that he was right. And I began to consider my Mom.

I consider my Mom to be perfect. But she does not always have the laundry done; there are often heaps of it. She does not always have a cleared kitchen sink, there are often dishes. She does not always have the floor free of dog hair; there is often dog hair and dirt. She does not have a quiet time every day. She does not always make her bed. She does not always rise with the sun (in fact, in my life, it has only been in times of dire necessity in my life that I have seen her do such). She does not always complete her to-do list. But she is perfect.

In high school, I had a moment of a ridiculous breakdown of feeling that I would, one day, be a terrible mother. How I came to this conclusion? I didn’t drink coke. I didn’t crochet or sew. And I wasn’t very creative. These are things my Mom did and I viewed them as things a successful Mother did. These were things about my Mom that classified her as ‘Mommy’. Of course, I’ve come to realize that these are things that are a part of her personality and who she is as a person, not just a mother and that there will be different things my children find in me that classify me as ‘Mommy’.

So how is my Mom perfect if she does not do all the things I just expressed to my husband that I felt were necessary to be perfect?

I don’t know.

I guess it has to do with the fact that my siblings are my best friends, I graduated from high school, I played sports and did activities that I loved, I had friends, I have a backbone and integrity and discipline and motivation. It has something to do with the fact that my Dad IS Superman, that, even though we may have consistently slept in late we also stayed up late…as a family, talking and laughing and dreaming. It has something to do with the fact that even though the house was messy and there were clothes to be folded on the couch and dishes to be done in the sink, my friends were always welcome in our home. And it has something to do with the fact that when I need help, advice, or a hug they were not withheld.

Somewhere in there, there is perfection.

And I don’t know how to achieve it, but I’m realizing now that achieving perfection is possible, but you might have to redefine the word: perfection.

I WILL be Superwoman one day. I don’t know to whom or by what definition I will achieve that, but one day I’ll have a definition of perfection, of Superwoman, for myself that will be attainable. For now, I will go try and re-define.