Marriage: Living into Doubt

As the day of thanks winds down, I am thankful for what November 23rd was like for me 5 years ago. My fiancé at the time and I were at a bar with a contingent of our “people”, laughing and clinking beers together, winding down from the rehearsal of the following day, where we’d hold hands and make promises then party with 300+ humans who loved us forward in our next steps together.

I am thankful for those people who carried our flowers and stood up with us. I am thankful for each of them who still play major rolls in our lives. I am thankful for our families that came along for the ride with our “out there” ideas for a day that eschewed most tradition and invited everybody to a giant party with superhero centerpieces. I am thankful for the mass of people who came to church with us, who witnessed our religious and civil commitment to each other, who drank the cup and ate the bread in that feast that welcomes all to the table and laughed because we were too nervous to make it through the vows.

I am thankful that the statement in our wedding program that acknowledged the unfairness and the failure of the law to recognize the unions of our LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters in the United States is no longer needed.

I am thankful that I have the opportunity to love and be loved by a person who chooses to commit themselves to me every day. It isn’t easy to love me, I am stubborn and hotheaded and have a giant problem keeping my mouth shut when I see or hear something wrong. I’m a solid introvert who needs at least 4 hours of recovery for every 1 hour spent with people, I have ADHD and get into occasional depressive cycles that strangle my ability to do anything other than whimper in a ball of crippling self-doubt.

If anyone ever spoon feeds you the myth that marriage and commitment is the best or easiest thing you will ever do, give them the serious side-eye. For most people I’ve talked to it’s messy and scary and really really hard. I am not convinced monogamy and the way our society sets up marriage is the “natural thing” because it feels so raw somedays. Like every where I turn ends up with another skinned knee or elbow. I mean, who thought two people could commit themselves to this—I’m not really convinced it’s a completely sane thing to do. I don’t even always love being married. I don’t always love how our personalities and energies clash sometimes, and how our standards of living and keeping the house clean don’t always match up. I don’t love feeling like I have yet another thing I have to work on (and it’s work). I don’t even love much physical contact.

I’m not going to tell you how to be married to someone. I think most marriage advice is crap because almost none of it will apply to you. My only advice I ever give anymore is that if you try to live your marriage according to some other human’s plan or scheme, it probably won’t work.

I’ve been married for five years. I met my now husband when I was 19, scared, and stupid. I was not a fully formed adult and we really and truly grew up together through the last years of our adolescence. We are still growing up together even now. Most of the time and decisions we’ve made have been a lot of “fuck it, let’s do it and we’ll figure it out later”. Even the things we meticulously planned and the things we thought we were ready for involved a lot of hoping and dreaming and living on a prayer and the support of the people around us. We had to live into that fear because we said we’d stick it out. Even when I felt so mad I wanted to give up. Even when all felt lost. So far we’ve stayed in, we’ve fought on, and we’ve kept moving. It hasn’t even been about living into our best selves. It’s been about saying “I will stick around even when you are the worst self you’ve ever been.”

We’ve had to live into the doubt we’ve felt: about ourselves, our relationship, parenting, careers, God…and what that looks like has varied. It has meant developing communication, it has meant acknowledging conflict, it has meant compromising even when it feels like we’re the ones with the raw deal.

I talk about doubt a lot because it’s the one thing I hold constant. When faith and love and all that other stuff is tumbling through the ebb and flow of my experiences, I’ve always got doubt hanging around asking me “what if you’re wrong.” So I’m glad I’ve got someone leaning into and onto that doubt with me.

Today I am most thankful for the person who will mostly call me on my crap when I need to hear it and also be willing to sit with me and say “I don’t know either” when things are especially clouded over and the storm is rolling in.

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