In an attempt to reflect on our first year of marriage, I’ve been scratching out a few thoughts on things I’ve learned during these past [almost] 365 days.
For the most part, when we go places together, we take Geoff’s vehicle. There are several reasons for this. For starters, he has those nice seat heaters that keep your cheeks all toasty when it’s sixteen degrees out. I personally am a wimp when it comes to cold weather so I’m a big fan of this feature. I also personally don’t love to drive so getting to sit back and let him navigate traffic is usually fine by me. More than anything though, after being together four years, I hate for him to see the inside of my vehicle.
At the beginning of our relationship, I avoided us taking my car at all costs. In fact, I think there was a period where I wouldn’t let him sit in it. I insisted on a quick hug on the driver’s side and a “see ya later.”
This seems ridiculous when I think back on it, but there I was—a messy, cluttered creature with coffee stains on my floor mats and random articles of clothing and books in my back seat—dating this intelligent, kind, handsome, and extremely organized man. I was positive he would take one look at the inside of my car and decide that he couldn’t be with someone who also didn’t keep a Swiffer duster in their glovebox. And at the age of twenty-five, this was a risk I was not willing to take.
Inevitably though, the day came when we had to take my vehicle. I spent the entire day before our date cleaning it out. I wiped down the dashboard and vacuumed the seats and hauled all of the randomly accumulated items out of the trunk and back seat and in to the corner of my bedroom.
I worked hard to make sure he saw the very best version of myself—even if that version wasn’t entirely accurate. And I believe we all do this. Particularly at the beginning of relationships, whether they be romantic or not. We do it with friends and co-workers and medical professionals. Why else do we all start flossing more regularly the month before we head to a dentist appointment?
We work hard to make ourselves seem more accomplished or interesting. We bring out our best and funniest stories—the ones that involve travel to exotic places or funny anecdote. We strive to make sure that no one can see the dirty, dark, and gross places of our hearts and lives.
Geoff and I have joked about the different areas we tried to keep hidden from each other throughout our four years together. And in some cases, we didn’t realize we were hiding them. They just never came to light because we weren’t sharing 800 square feet of living space and one sink vanity.
This causes a few issues though. For starters, we are getting to pick and choose the areas of our life where we get to be vulnerable and authentic. And from experience, it doesn’t take long after those vows are uttered to realize that you can no longer hide behind the best version of yourself.
I spent the first few months doing my very best to make sure I performed as the perfect wife, the perfect homemaker, and the perfect roommate. The issue is that I am none of those things. And trying to appear otherwise was stressful and anxiety inducing. Metaphorically, at a certain point my husband and my community have to see the roller blades and the coffee mugs and the gum wrappers in my car. We have to show others every side of us—beautiful and broken.
The truth is that I am sometimes grumpy before I’ve had a cup of coffee. I need a whole lot of sleep—and when I don’t get it, my patience is thin. I often don’t extend grace. I have loose lips and speak before I think. And Lord help my sweet husband, the meals I prepared at the beginning of our marriage were edible… but not much else could be said of them.
Marriage is messy. We get the privilege of sometimes being the only person who truly sees every side of our partner. Dirty underwear on the floor. Dirty dishes in the sink. Ugly attitudes. Hurtful remarks. Aches and pains. Grumbling. Quick judgements. Bodily fluids. We break down in tears. We get sick. We pass out in the middle of the night. We lose sleep from the other’s tossing and turning.
I have been humbled more times than one as the man who had me on a pedestal those first few weeks of dating took care of the real nasty mess each time I got sick.
Marriage is messy. A complex web of beauty and truth and transparency and hurt and love. And at first, this scared me. I was scared that if I let Geoff see who I really was and all of my brokenness, it would break us.
But during this year, I’ve learned that my marriage will break if I don’t let my husband see my messy parts. If I don’t tell him my fears and insecurities and weaknesses. We are stronger when we allow others in to those places that maybe no one else gets to see. This is true of every relationship and walk of life.
More than anything, recognizing my own broken and messy heart in my marriage has pushed me to rely on the grace of God more than ever before. And gracious, do we all need that in a huge, daily heaping dose.