3 Years Later — Marriage is Still Hard

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I don’t remember our first big fight. Probably because the love and forgiveness surrounding the conclusion of our discussions, always outweigh whatever it was we were fighting about.

Every year that passes, living out those marriage vows become harder. People often say the first year is the hardest. Well, I’d argue that every year is the hardest. In Catholicism, marriage is a vocation, some thing that God has called you to do, some thing that will purify you, draw you closer to Him, and refine your soul into a saint’s. Surely, that process isn’t meant to be easy and from my experience, it certainly has not been. Last year we had another soul to care for [our baby girl], and we go into this year with me baring another. I don’t mean to illustrate our children as burdens, however, it is no light thing to bring another life into the world either. We are entrusted to protect these babies and raise them to the glory of God. As if being husband and wife weren’t challenging enough roles….

Well a few evenings ago, my car was broken into and ransacked. I had $6 sitting in a cup holder that was stolen, but that was the only thing missing. In fact, the scariest part about this whole ordeal is the day before, I had tucked my wallet into the back seat of the driver’s side before going swimming, to avoid having my wallet stolen at the pool. It was still in the backseat, untouched, despite obviously having our car tossed by some thief. You’d think we would have just counted our blessings that no one was hurt and that my wallet was miraculously saved, but no. I have to admitt there was a argument. Why didn’t I lock the car doors? If I thought they were locked, why didn’t I double check them to be sure? Why did my hubsand park in the driveway, blocking the garage? Why didn’t he move his car, then pull my van into the garage for me? Really, the thief is to blame… even if the car doors had been wide open, you still don’t have the right to troll through a stranger’s personal belongings and take what you want. The reality is, hubs and I felt violated. The car was parked 4 feet from our front door. We are the protectors of our home, of the children God has given us, and we felt like we failed.

The longer we’re married, the more there will be to protect. Are the car doors locked? Do we live in a safe neighborhood? If our house vunerable to break-ins? Are we financially secure? Do we have enough food for the children? These questions will haunt us as we become home owners, as we have more children, as we get new jobs, and anything else life throws at us.┬áThe longer we are married though, ┬áthe more I learn.

Buuuuuuut this can be both a positive and a negative.

What I learn as a positive: I know that when my husband comes home from work, he is susally exhausted. If I have any hopes of getting him to help me with the baby or chores, I have to let him have at least 10 minutes to unwind and get settled for the evening. This is some thing I have learned over time that has helped me become a more patient wife and maintain peace in our household.

What I think I’ve learned as a negative : My husband is stubborn. Therefore, the next time he is acting stubborn, I will throw this fact in his face as a way of discrediting him and getting my way. Though it may be true that my husband is stubborn, no peace is kept by constantly bringing this character trait to surface.

What we learn during our time being married should be knowledge kept to maintain peace and love in the household, not wielded as weapons against one another. And it’s HARD. You think I don’t tell my husband he’s stubborn? I do. You think he doesn’t point out my flaws? He does. Some times we hold grudges and hurt feelings and anger in our hearts, because we are human. This is something we will face for the duration of our lives. Even if we learn to be more silent and patient with one another, I know at least for myself, it will always be a temptation. Luckily, our marriage is rooted in faith. We always joke about the sacrament of confession, how other churches don’t have it, probably because no one likes it. On the other hand, if no one likes it, it would be hard to argue that Catholics made it up just for fun. It is some thing so contrary to our fallen nature, that the only conclusion can be, that it must come from God. In confession we must take responsibility for our sins, we try to learn from them, then they are forgiven by our Father, and then we receive unimaginable sacramental grace from that one little act of humility. Well, as I said, marriage is also a sacrament. After an argument, my husband is ALWAYS the first to humbly come to me, take responsibility for thing things he said that were hurtful or unfair, this helps me learn more about him and the way he approaches conflict, and it also helps him learn about the areas in his soul that he needs to work on. Then there is forgiveness, and then there is grace. By his example, as head of the household, my heart is always softened to see my husband coming to me for reconciliation. Confession has surprisingly taught me a lot about marriage, and the peace I feel while walking out of that confessional, is the same peace I feel after my husband and I mimic the humility of confession after an argument. And even though I’ve been going to confession ever since I was 6 years old, it is still hard, and probably always will be.

Likewise, marriage is hard. It will always be hard, just as trying to live a virtuous life will always be hard… but thank God for grace.

I love you Justin! Happy Anniversary.

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Things I learned in my Twenties: Reflections on 23

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Yesterday I turned 24. I was trying to reflect on the year, specifically what I have learned, and I have to say I’ve learned a lot. I thought that after my first year of marriage, I knew all there was to know about sacrificial love. I stand corrected. After a year of parenthood, I REALLY feel like I know every thing about love and sacrifice. I know I will “stand corrected” on this topic for the rest of my life, probably until I die and witness the mystery of Love, Himself when I make my way through those pearly white gates. But I digress….

Instead of expanding on how much I don’t know, let me tell you what I do know. Love is hard. Some times is requires you to get up at 3 am, other times is requires you to listen to screaming that feels like it is going directly into your ear drum, as you hopelessly make efforts to soothe. Aside from suffering, it also takes humility. Love asks you to admit when you don’t know what you’re doing. Some times Love requires you to admit when you know exactly what you’re doing, because its the wrong thing, and you need correction. Some times you are the one lovingly suggesting a correction…

Love has many forms, but this year I have mostly seen it take on the form of parent and child. I would argue this is Love’s original form. Adam and the Father of Adam, God and the Son of God, the one correcting and the one being corrected, the one consoling and the one who needs consoling. I thought that by default, I’d always have the “parent role,” false. Many times I have the child role. My impulsive shopping needs correcting. My weary soul needs consolation…

What I’ve also learned is that neither role is particularly easy. The parent role requires stamina and patience while the child role requires humility and acceptance. Basically, there is no easy way to love. It drains you, it exercises parts of your soul that you’d probably prefer remained dormant. For many of us though, the childlikeness is particularly difficult. Afterall, we spend more of our lifetime as adults than we do as children and yet, the call to have a childlike spirit is unending however unnatural it may feel to us. The year of being 23 reinforced that for me. Even though I was a parent, I was not allowed to stop being a child, a child of God. When I am confronted, I must be honest. When I am scared, I must trust. When I need help, I must be humble. When I need to work on my flaws, I must be obedient. These are all virtues we expect of children and rarely apply them to ourselves.

If there is one way I can certainly teach my children these virtues, it is by example. That is what I learned in my 23rd year of life. I will head into year 24 with maturity, but also with the heart of a child.

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