My wedding anniversary is on Tuesday August 4. In celebration of my anniversary I have decided to write a blog daily to highlight some of the lessons I have learned. Throughout these series of blogs I will keep it completely honest. Let me give you my disclaimers now, one this is about MY marriage. There may be similarities in my marriage to others but at the end of the day no one marriage is the same. The second disclaimer is that marriage is work. So if you looking for that flowery blog you may want to stop reading. Lastly marriage isn’t high heels and lingerie everyday. Although we are still having fun and aren’t ready to kill each other the reality of it is that often times in the wedding planning phase we see marriage as this utopia and it’s not.
My husband and I said our vows almost 4 years ago. We were two kids in and very stressed. We have known each other since Augusts 1999. Sounds like a love story ready to blossom? No, not to me either. I love my husband. He is the best man for me. We were college sweethearts. We had been through so much in our 4 years at Penn State. But that was college and when we married we were 2 different people. We broke up and went our separate ways came back together in 2009. I didn’t realize that the man in 2009 although similar was a different man and I went in on the expectations of the man I knew in 1999.
So our first year was horrible. I know that’s not the right way to explain it but that was it in a nutshell. Between being newlyweds, a new babyand a toddler, and living with his mom we were at a breaking point. I would never have imagined living with a man and his momma but we had to do what we had to do. My husband proposed a 5 year plan so we could get out of debt. On paper it sounded great. In the land or reality it was not the best plan but it was the best solution for where we were at the time. I live with no regrets but that decision was a strong borderline what was I thinking type moment. So in love I had these expectations of us just being googly eyed and sexed out and let me say that was not the case. Our first night wasn’t even what I expected becasue again we go by television and movies. That was my first quick gut check. I laid in our bed thinking really Lord? It had nothing to do with sex or intimacy I didn’t have newly I’s married feeling and I felt bad for not having it.
Between postpartum, long nights at the office for my husband, my mother in law in the midst, and two kids under the age of 3 that was the polar opposite. We were tired, stressed and on kill bill mode. I do not remember when I initiated the talk of the “big D” but I did. I actually used it so much although we were very close to it, “big D”was getting to be too much. The “big D” I am talking about is divorce. I wanted out. I didn’t sign up for this shit. It was the worst thing I had been through. I kept saying to myself okay LaToi, you got 2 kids you can make it on your own. Thanks to Tyler Perry I was shouting I can do bad by myself. We immediately went to counseling. I was sitting in my sessions crying and complaining and yelling that I wanted out. Well I almost got my wish. The pain that the “big D” inflicted on my marriage and family was too much. I never wanted to end things within the first year but at that moment I was ready to sign.
Things around us got worst even after the first year. I found myself contemplating an affair. Yes gasp. Not actually go through it. I didn’t have anyone in mind but I definitely thought about it. I kept reminiscing on whether or not had I chosen to be with someonelse if I would be better off. Now mind you this was while I was calculating my husband’s every move. If he blinked wrong, it meant something. If he smiled too much, he had to be happier without me. Again between postpartum and what I had brought to the table on my own, I was a mess. My husband sat down with me one day in the drive way of his mom’s house and said we are going to be a unit. I need you to make this divorce happen and we go our separate ways or you never use that word again and we make it work. He was serious. He wasn’t playing games. He had never approached me in that manner. He was tired of the crap too. I forgot about how he was feeling. He didn’t want to be at his mom’s no more than me but I was ONLY thinking of myself. He didn’t want to be where we were but we were there and he was doing everything in his power to change that. Every week going over numbers, looking at places. Of course I failed to mention those efforts to others becasue I wanted out. He stopped it the process of divorce that day. It was no longer what he or I or we felt, it was hey what are we going to do make a decision and proceed or be married. We have yet to use the “big D” since then.
I am not saying I was the only part of the “big D” talk. However this is my blog so I will discuss my issues that came from the newly minted union. So yes I bad mouthed my husband through this until it came back to bite my butt. So that was the second lesson wrapped into the first one. I heard stories of newlyweds having issues in their first year but since married folks keep those things covered I just thought I was the ONLY one in the nation going through this. Let me help my single and those wanting to be married, we were just like most couples. It doesn’t matter what we went through we were going through like all other couples. It didn’t matter what the outside looked like we were floundering. We made the vows that said for better or for worse but we had NO idea what that meant. One day my parents too who got tired of hearing how bad it was spoke up. My mom said are you leaving? I said no. She said then deal with it and make it work. You got to learn to take care of yourself in the marriage too. Marriage will not resolve issues that are present before the big day. Marriage is not a magic trick. Some of our issues were unresolved issues that had taken place in college. We had not dealt with them although we thought we did.
One thing I would encourage soon to be married couples is to get marital counseling. My husband is Catholic and I am non-denominational and I was raised Baptist. The Catholic priest looked at me and him and told us that it didn’t matter what we were now as far as religious beliefs if we weren’t ready to fight to stay married. I was still in my I love him and he loves me mode so I didn’t take it to full heart. I thought well my parents have been married for at least 25 years I am good. No they were good I wasn’t. I was just touching the surface of the heartache I couldn’t see as a child. They had and still fighting and if I was going to make it I had to do the same.
Fast forward to today. We aren’t perfect but we have had more moments of clarity where one or both of us say, you know this is a test and we got this right than not. We definitely aren’t the same fighting, about to kill, ready to quit couple that we were in that first year or 2. We have come from a mighty long way. However if you are thinking of marriage do NOT have these expectations that may not be attainable. Should you be in the honeymoon phase in the beginning, absolutely as long as you fight to keep it there. It just doesn’t happen without work. When you are in your car and you aren’t sure if you want to walk in the house because of the drama that may be taking place, you have to make the right choice to stay. You will find more people willing to help you break apart than to stay. Surround yourself with real married couples. You can have a few nights here and there with your single friends but having others who understand you helps. Marriage doesn’t mean your life is over. But get it clear with your circle that if you intend to be married any discouragement to leave outside of abuse is not welcome. You don’t need someone pushing you when you are ready to jump. You do need someone who will call a spade a spade.
Even though it was a bit of a trying time for us it wasn’t fully bad. It just seemed that way and that’s why perception is key. If all you do is highlight the bad you will only see it. I spent more time complaining than I did looking at it from different eyes. With counseling we learned and still use the tools we learned to look at each other from a positive place. We are more committed today than we were then but we needed the back then to get there. There are many more trials coming. The ones we see and the ones we don’t but have our mind made up to fight it together instead of fighting each other.
Lesson 2 coming soon……