I read recently in an article on how a writer described how she rediscovered her marriage through re-reading old love letters she wrote her husband when she was a doe-eyed 20-something madly in love with her husband.
Now in her 40s and married with two kids, she realised she was no longer that girl who was loving, full of joy and positivity. She then decided to fix that and strived to rediscover her inner happy 20-something-ness, and as a result, improved her marriage.
Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? I can relate to her experience – although I’m not yet 40 and I still love my husband, I understand how marriage “reality” can come crashing down on you throughout your path of wedded bliss.
You see, kids (Aunt Agony mode on) marriage isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s so, so much more than what you thought. And listen to Ben Affleck – it does take a lot of hard work.
It’s not all fairy tales and romance… in fact, there really isn’t much of that at all. And oh, it can be painful. It can definitely be hard. But much like anything in life, if you put the right sort of energy into it, the energy coming out can also be beautiful and lovely.
Getting married and finding the love of your life is the dream most girls have since they were little girls, myself included. It doesn’t help that we grow up with rom-coms and teen/twenty-somethings TV series which show the perspectives of scripted drama centred around beautiful people attracted to other beautiful people. There’s one for every generation, so for me it was like Dawson’s Creek, Friends, Sex and the City, One Tree Hill, Felicity and The O.C.
In these films and TV series, you see handsome guys chasing after the beautiful girls. You see proposals with Eiffel Tower in the background (SATC), proclamations of love in front the high school cafeteria (The O.C.), exuberance as the girl runs to the guy that she chooses over his best friend (Dawson’s Creek).
Real life is not like that. You (hopefully) get the proposal (although I didn’t), go through the wedding preparations (which needs its own drama series if you ask me), settle down in a new house with a person you haven’t fully spent a complete 24-hours with (if you’re from a religious or culturally sensitive background like most Asians) and from then on you are left to fend for yourselves.
You suddenly get disagreements (from purchasing your first property to minor issues like who cooks or cleans more). You get financial incompatibility (who should contribute more to household expenses; credit card bills). You get family tiffs (where to spend the holidays; which family home to visit first, etc). You go to bed angry (and sometimes still wake up angry). In short, you see the other person’s uglier half and you think “Did I sign up for this?”
If you’re in this phase, how do you know when to say “I’ve had enough” or “Maybe we’re not that compatible”? Ask yourself this: Is he any of these non-negotiable things – an addict, a serial cheater/liar or an abuser? If he’s not any of these, chances are that he may be just a normal good guy whose real personality you’re discovering to some turbulences – but it may be worth it to stay and work to rediscover your marriage.
If you decide to stay and fight – as countless wives have done all around the world – focus on improving yourself, your attitude and your expectations. Men have fragile egos and they don’t like to feel disrespected, so show him a lot of respect and listen to his grievances (as tempting as it may be to rebut his points, leave it be and digest first). Like the author, try to remember who you both were when you first met and fell in love.
This is all part of growing up – for the both of you. Recheck your attitude, see beyond the pettiness and commit to renew your intention to make each other happy every now and then. If he takes a little longer to catch up to your awesomeness, give him the benefit of the doubt and try to see that he’s just as confused and scared of failures in life just like you.
Have faith in marriage and see that beyond the grey clouds, there’s always a rainbow to discover. Or a love letter or two.