Pillow Talk & Marriage Vows
by Rajdeep Paulus
Laying in bed at night, Hubby and I often have our recap of the day’s events conversation, especially if it’s been one of those days where life pulled us in so many directions, we rarely crossed paths until this moment when sleep competes with the desire to converse. And there’s something about talking in the dark that makes it easier to say what you really think. What you honestly feel.
“I don’t get young couples these days,” I say, recollecting a conversation I had with someone earlier that week. “They freak out when those early days of marriage are tough. Someone should really warn them. Marriage is tough. Especially those first couple of years.”
“Really?” Hubby says, “Because when I look back on those early years, I thought they were pretty good.”
Umm, seriously? I suppose Amnesia kicks in to block things we don’t want to remember.
“Don’t you remember all the fights we had?” I ask. “The times I stormed out of our apartment? And I was so clingy.”
Hubby shifts in bed. “I guess for me if I had to look back, I’d say this last year was the hardest one for me.”
And just like that, an innocent conversation about young marriage turns into an exposed wound. One I thought was well on its way to being healed. But that’s the tricky thing about marriage. When two people love each other consistently and passionately, the joy and wow of it all is exponentially high. And when those same two people hurt each other, the cuts run like the Nile, the opening might be narrow, but the hurt runs deep.
Silence follows for several minutes as we lay in the dark, lost in our own thoughts. Maybe he’s wondering if he should have said what he said. I’m certainly wondering what he meant by it, and hoping the “year” he’s referring to is close to over.
This past couple of years has been challenging for us as a couple for many reasons. As a new author, the unexpected demands of a new career have added stress and time constraints on our household in general, but there are times and seasons when we feel like passing ships in the night, both exhausted from the demands that pulled at us during the day. And when hubby decided to cycle across the country in July 2015, the training takes hours, but when the goal of c4c2015 is to raise money and awareness to fight human trafficking, the whole process has been like adding a second job to both of our lives.
I love that my hubby is a dreamer, not just talking about big ideas, but inviting others to join him and make a difference in this short life we have on this earth. And he’s been my biggest cheerleader as my first two books came out. But even in the midst of great things and a thriving marriage, we’ve stumbled. Said hurtful things. Failed each other and failed to see each other’s needs at times. And held back at times when we needed to give selflessly. It’s the messy part of every relationship equation: put two imperfect people in a room with other and trust they will love each other just as they promised, and chances are their imperfections will surface sooner rather than later.
“So, where are you at with everything?” I ask, feeling the need to keep the topic of pain general so we can talk about it without bringing up ugly details.
“I don’t know how to answer that question,” he says, making me wish I could just disappear into my pillow.
But that’s not what we signed up for when we said our vows.
We said, ‘for richer and for poorer,’ and we’ve lived off rice and dhal while waiting for a student loan check to show up in those early med school days. More recently, my baby’s taken me to real castle and I lived like a princess for a night.
We said, “in sickness and in health,” and we’ve walked each other through knee surgery, herniated discs, flus, migraines and four pregnancies and deliveries. But we’ve also enjoyed many, many days of good health.
We said, “for better or for worse,” and I know now that we didn’t know what we signed up for when we said that part. Because the more years you live with each other, you share more of you—the good, the bad, the ugly and the part no one else in the world knows about. Well, other than your best friend if you’re the wife, in some cases.
And, I know I say this word a lot, because the truth is, my life depends on it, but our marriage would not survive without grace.
Grace is the unconditional love and forgiveness we give each other daily, regardless of whether we deserve it or not. Because nine times out of ten, you shouldn’t have gone there. Said those mean words. Done that stupid thing. Or taken your spouse for granted. But we do. And we do it often.
It’s the blessed curse of marriage if you will. You’re with the person who you feel most safe to be vulnerable with. You’re also with the person who you hurt the most comfortably. Not because you want to—it just happens when that safety net of wedding vows surround two people.
We said, “to love and to cherish,” and this is absolutely the most challenging part of marriage, because love is action and if you cherish someone, you’ll spend time with them, treat them with dignity and respect, and those who surround you know clearly and immediately who and where your priorities lie.
A wise friend of mine said, “Sometimes, another conversation is not what you need. Sometimes you just have to find ways to show him that you love him. That he’s who matters most in your life. That you treasure him.”
We said, “from this day forward, till death do us part,” and in some ways, each day is a new day to say, from this day forward, let us live out our vows. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. To love. And to cherish.
Marriage is hard work. And as hard as some of those conversations are where you’re vulnerable with each other, harder still is the time and effort it takes to move forward. And keep working at it.
Because, like each of us, I have to choose which story I want to be a part of in this lifetime. And when I think about the gift I’ve been given in this man who agreed to finish growing up with me sixteen years ago—this—this is the story I want to be a part of, messy chapters and all.
And something worth keeping is worth fighting for.
Love each other while today is still today.
More about the author:
Rajdeep Paulus is the author of Swimming Through Clouds and Seeing Through Stones , is mommy to four princesses, wife of Sunshine, a coffee-addict and a chocoholic. As of this June 2013, she’s a Tough Mudder. To find out more, visit her website or connect with her via Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram .
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