Marriage Demons

marriage demons: jazmin of whispers through wheat

by lizzie & isaiah on June 14, 2011 · 13 comments

This is the twelfth post in the guest series Marriage DemonsDivorce sucks. It’s happening everywhere around us. There’s a single common thread in the divorces going on in our families and friends and that is: Everything changed when we got married. Obviously, this has us shaking in our boots a little bit, “What the hell goes on immediately after you say ‘I do’?” I asked some bloggers with experience to talk about their marriage demons, things that changed after they got married for better and for worse. After writing up the recap on what I learned from Marriage Demons guest posters, Jazmin of Whispers through Wheat sent me a post about what changed when she got married. Sit down, take notes.

Everything changes when you get married.

We’ve all heard someone tell us that, whether they meant it in a negative way or not, it always seems to come across as a warning. I heard it many times before we got married; even a few times after we were married. I could not disagree more.

Now, I’m coming from a different perspective on this situation, considering I’ve been married less than a year and my husband and I are currently separated. Now, hear me out, everything did not change after we got married, in fact, nothing changed after we got married.

Nothing changed after we got married which is why we are now separated. I think couples who end up divorced, or separated (permanently or not), had issues before the wedding that were not dealt with, but they come up after the wedding because there is nothing else to focus on but the relationship.

I knew before the wedding that something was off, I felt it in my soul and in my heart, but I ignored it and told myself it was pre-wedding stress, basic pre-wedding nerves, and the stress of my now-husband losing his job weeks before the wedding. I didn’t listen to myself, to the real issues, and I’m paying for that now. I mean, I should have known something was seriously wrong when I spent the night before my wedding in tears, but I chose to tell myself it was stress.

When I hear people claim everything changed after the wedding I disagree whole heartedly. I think the reason people end up divorced within the first few years after marriage is because of pre-existing issues, not because of new issues after the wedding. After the wedding there is nothing else to focus on but each other. You are no longer planning a wedding, no longer making one of the biggest changes in your life and no longer can focus your attention on something else.

The stigma of being married brings these issues front and centre, there is no doubt about that in my mind, but the issues have to be there to begin with. I have no doubt in my mind that if people are truly happy, in love and 100% honest with each other (honesty is key) nothing will change after the wedding, at least not in a negative way.

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marriage demons: lessons learned

by lizzie & isaiah on June 9, 2011 · 12 comments

It looks like posts have finished trickling in from the guest series Marriage Demons and I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who participated and tell you what I’ve learned.

When I started the series, I was feeling terrified of marriage. Most of the couples in my family are divorced and I have rarely seen a marriage work in a way that I wanted ours to resemble someday. Since we’ve had such a long engagement (2 years and counting) and dated for years before that, we have seen couples meet, get engaged, get married and get divorced in the time that we have been dating. All of them had the same complaint, “Everything changes when you get married.”

Many of them claimed their spouse showed a side of their personality they hadn’t seen before. I’ve seen people become afflicted with addiction shortly after marriage, miscarriages have torn loving people apart and financial problems have torn some of, from my perspective, the strongest couples apart.

I was left feeling as though I didn’t know what awaited me in the Marriage Unknown.

I feel the need to say that Isaiah and I know each other inside and out. We were friends first. When we lived long-distance for a year, we talked on the phone everyday for no less than four hours a day. We have both seen extremely ugly sides of each other. Isaiah has heard my angry voice berating him for things left undone. I have been yelled at for my share of transgressions. Even still, I never spend a minute apart from him that I don’t have to, he’s my favorite person to talk to and my favorite part of myself. Despite my fierce independence, I want to be around him all day and have the children I swore against and the marriage I promised never to consider. It’s easy, even. But no one gets married hoping for divorce.

I suppose the best outcome of the Marriage Demons series happened shortly after I began reading the posts: I don’t know what I was so afraid of. In the end, you can only be as prepared as you can be and know a person as well as you can know them and take that leap into Marriage Unknown and stay alert. I suppose I don’t have an answer for why I always second guess the gut feeling I have that Isaiah and I will be just fine. He doesn’t.

Oh, have I mentioned I tend to be a little bit of a control freak? I do. As I read the advice that came in, I realized quickly that that may be the source of my problem. I can’t control our marriage any more than I can control our relationship right now. Alyssa of Kind of a Mess brought up that people never tell you that tough marriages aren’t just for the 10th anniversary and after with kids and the whole shebang…your tough marriage can start right away.

But, she also said in her post the thing that resonated in me so hard it took me days to think over it and decide if that was enough: “I’m not saying that marriage isn’t hard, or that I’m even good at it. Honestly, I suck most of the time. But I try. I try really really hard. Not because I have such a terrible marriage that requires tons of effort. But because my husband is so massively important to me and my life that I’ll do anything I have to do to make my marriage work.”

That’s how I feel as well. Even thinking about the idea that someday something(s) or neglect could come between us and take away this…this that we make each other feel everyday shakes me up. I know I love Isaiah enough to devote the rest of my life to making our partnership work. Even if that means I have to give up control, even if that means I have to ease up on the responsibilities and un-meetable expectations…I’ll work at it because of him.

This got way more cheesy than I was expecting…so you know…[Insert offsetting humor here]. I learned so much from everyone who submitted.

If you want to catch up, here’s where to do it (click on the title of the blog to be taken to their personal blogs and the topic link to be taken to their Marriage Demons post):

Louise of Thirty-Something Bride on never knowing what goes on behind closed doors.

Sarah of Inconceivable Life (previously My San Francisco Budget Wedding) on fighting.

Alyssa of Kind of a Mess (and Ask Team Practical on A Practical Wedding) on determination and commitment.

Angie of One Cat Per Person on the light at the end of the tunnel.

Liz of Happy Sighs on always working together and general hilarity.

Lisa of Craft My Life on insecurity and how it can affect your marriage.

Ashley of Hi-Fi Weddings on making the work of marriage fun.

Aleah and Nick Valley on working together and keeping your sanity.

Jennifer of Ms. not Mrs. on the shattered bubble effect.

Nikki of Ridiculously Ever After on never falling out of love at the same time.

I hope you enjoy their hard work and learn something for your own relationship or marriage…I know I did, at least. You can read through the whole series here (start at the bottom). If you have anything else to add or want to contribute to the series, send me an email at lizziesmithson (at) gmail.

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marriage demons: nikki of ridiculously ever after

by lizzie & isaiah on May 2, 2011 · 28 comments

This is the tenth post in the guest series Marriage DemonsDivorce sucks. It’s happening everywhere around us. There’s a single common thread in the divorces going on in our families and friends and that is: Everything changed when we got married. Obviously, this has us shaking in our boots a little bit, “What the hell goes on immediately after you say ‘I do’?” I asked some bloggers with experience to talk about their marriage demons, things that changed after they got married for better and for worse. I can’t believe how much I like Nikki. Especially since we basically just met. I hope you like her 1/2 as much as I do, because that would still be a lot. She writes the hilarious blog Ridiculously Ever After, one you should be reading. every. day. Sit down and take notes.

A few years ago, before Brian even proposed to me, his sister gave me the best marriage advice I’ve ever heard: Never fall out of love at the same time.

I remember when she said it; we were on the porch of the house Brian and I live in now. She’d just gotten into an argument with her husband, and he’d driven away with the kids in a huff. They had the kind of fights that made Brian wary of getting married at all – “I don’t want to end up like that,” he’d say. So while I stood next to her with my eyes wide and my nostrils flared (this is my WTF-just-happened-I-am-UNCOMFORTABLE face), she turned to me and sighed. “Just never fall out of love at the same time.”

Yeah sure, I thought, smiling politely and patting her arm. Like that’ll ever happen to me. I’m in love with Brian. He’s my very best friend! He’s my whole world!

Now we’re married, and it’s still true. Brian is my best friend. We’re that obnoxious couple who does everything, goes everywhere, together. Sometimes it feels like we never, ever fight. Except for when we do.

Brian and I fight very differently. I am a passionate and articulate screamer, whereas Brian is cool as a Klondike bar at all times. Brian takes a hug-it-out approach when he is hurt or angry, whereas I’m someone who needs a cool-down period (i.e. don’t f#$%ing touch me right now!!!). It is damn near impossible to NOT look like the crazy one in the argument when you’re red in the face from yelling and the other person is trying tenderly to wrap his arms around you. But, I digress.

We need different things. And the good news is, no matter what the fight is about, someone is always more upset than the other. This means that one of us, who is not quite blinded by hurt feelings or rage, maintains the ability to grant what the other person needs. When I tell an embarrassing story at Brian’s expense, I know it’ll take some serious huggin’ and snugglin’ for me to get back in his good graces. When he drives like a maniac and knocks his coffee into my expensive purse, he knows to issue an eloquent apology in words before trying any physical contact.

I didn’t notice this compromise until after we got married – we’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing one another’s needs. And while I would never say I’ve fallen out of love with Brian, ever, I have to acknowledge the wisdom in this advice. Never fall out of love at the same time. No matter what happens, at least one of us has a clear head. At least one of us still knows, without a doubt, this is where we’re supposed to be; we’re in this together. And that’s the best you can ask for.

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marriage demons: jennifer of ms., not mrs.

by lizzie & isaiah on April 21, 2011 · 22 comments

This is the ninth post in the guest series Marriage DemonsDivorce sucks. It’s happening everywhere around us. There’s a single common thread in the divorces going on in our families and friends and that is: Everything changed when we got married. Obviously, this has us shaking in our boots a little bit, “What the hell goes on immediately after you say ‘I do’?” I asked some bloggers with experience to talk about their marriage demons, things that changed after they got married for better and for worse. Jennifer of Ms., Not Mrs. is one of those bloggers I connect with fully on a cerebral level. I adore just about every post she writes for her ability to make me go “Uh-huh, uh-HUH!” She’s sweet and smart and has it goin’ on in the intellectual sense of the word (and other senses – aren’t they cute together?!). So sit down and take notes.

The header for the “Marriage Demons” talks about divorce, and how so many go through it, it’s happening all around us, and it is scary for those entering marriage.  Up until recently, I had such a naive, black-and-white view of divorce.

My mother was a single parent, but we lived with my grandparents until I was 15 years old, so it was really more like having 3 parents at home.  My 5th grade teacher, who had a bias against children who were from what he perceived “broken homes,” had me placed in Banana Splits without my mother’s permission.  I remember my first – and only – session, we were asked to write “graffiti” all over posterboard.  While my peers were quoting angry song lyrics and writing things like, “I hate my sister,” I was drawing pictures of rainbows and bunnies.  No, I’m not making that up as a metaphor – I was ACTUALLY drawing pictures of rainbows and bunnies.

I was not a “broken home” kid.  I had no concept of a broken home at that age.  Most of my close friends had intact families.  None of my aunts and uncles were divorced.  Ironically, my grandmother WAS divorced and remarried, but it happened so long ago and, as far as I was concerned, it was ancient history.  Sure, I had classmates that had divorced parents, but it just wasn’t something that I could wrap my head around.  At 10, why bother trying?

When I was a little older, my mother started dating a man who was recently divorced.  It was a MESSY divorce, and the ex-wife was unstable.  These kids would have benefitted from Banana Splits.  Instead, they got my social worker mother, who tried to separate her professional instincts from her uncertain role in these children’s lives.  My understanding of divorce wasn’t helped by this, though.  I still couldn’t understand it or wrap my head around it, but it was worse, because now I THOUGHT I could.

My mother and that man eventually broke up, amicably, for reasons unrelated to his divorce.  At this point, I had more friends/peers from “broken” homes, but I didn’t really know their parents, and I didn’t necessarily know them “before” the divorce.  For as close as I was to something so messy (without being a part of the mess, that is), it is baffling to me how naive I was about divorce, and how very sheltered I was from the realities.  To me, divorce was something that happened because someone did something “bad,” or because someone was a “bad” person.  In hindsight, I can’t believe my understanding was so shallow, but I suppose you don’t contemplate ugly things unless you’re forced to.

And I was, finally, forced to.  I got a crash-course in divorce a month before my wedding.

I was closer to the husband.  He was a colleague and a mentor, and I held him in high esteem.  I had spent time with his wife socially on several occasions and considered her a friend as well.  I admired them as a couple – both were professionally successful, had their own lives and interests, and yet still had what looked like a great partnership.  I am fiercely independent, so I thought that it was great that they were so secure in their partnership to spend time apart from one another.

And then, I got the response card from their wedding invite back.  Regrets.  I was confused that the wife had only put her name down.  It never even occurred to me that it was because he had moved out, and they had separated.  I no longer worked with the husband, but we remained close friends and spoke frequently.  I had even seen him socially with some mutual friends recently. After one too many glasses of champagne at my bridal shower, I vented to another mutual friend as to why he was being so evasive.

“Maybe … it’s because … he never saw the invitation,” my friend, who knew what had happened, offered.

“What?  Never saw it?  Is he ABOVE checking his MAIL now?  No, that’s nuts.”

It wasn’t until the next day, driving home with a car full of shower gifts, that it occurred to me why someone might not receive mail at his house:  if he was no longer living there.  I confirmed that my friend had separated from his wife a few days later, and the reason why:  he was having an affair.  Worse, he was having an affair with another friend of mine.  I had introduced these two, at a birthday party I threw for myself a few years prior.  She and he had become close, but I thought nothing of it.  I saw their relationship as similar to my relationship with him, the only difference being that they did not work together.  The woman with whom he was having an affair with was also invited to the wedding and had also sent her regrets.

Now I knew why neither of them was going.

In hindsight, more than 7 months later, I understand completely.  The LAST place you would want to go is a wedding, particularly where there would be mutual friends who knew, and who were judging.  It was still new, it was still raw, and they, all three of them, were still reeling.  But, at the time, I was angry.  I was angry with my friend for cheating on his wife.  I was angry with my other friend for leading him astray.  I was angry with both of them for lying to me for so long.  I was also angry at myself, for my inability to understand the dynamic, and let it go.  I was angry at myself for judging them so harshly for having human frailties.  I was angry at myself for making it about me.

And, yet, I couldn’t help it.  I knew my friend wasn’t a bad person.  I knew his wife wasn’t a shrew.  Their marriage fell apart for reasons I will never understand, because it is not any of my business.  It is THEIR business.  But I couldn’t quantify it.  I couldn’t place it in a neat box and explain it away.  I had to simply accept it for what it was, realize that while my friend may not be a bad person, he did a not-so-good thing and now he was dealing with the consequences of those actions.  But, this was not a reason to be angry with him.  I was projecting my own issues and biases against this, and that was unfair.

For what it is worth, it did not once make me question my decision to marry my husband, or even make me question whether or not we would “last” as a couple.  Those two things were eerily separate, in my mind, and in many ways still are – everyone is different, and while one should never say never, I know in my heart that my husband is “the one,” and I’ve never questioned that, even now.  However, it did make me realize that divorce and infidelity aren’t things that happen to other people, outside of my bubble.  My bubble had been shattered, and I suddenly felt so vulnerable to the pain and devastation and awkwardness of divorce.  And, even though I obviously don’t wish for my friends to experience that, I’m glad my bubble is shattered, because it isn’t healthy to be so naive.

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marriage demons: aleah + nick valley

April 18, 2011

This is the eighth post in the guest series Marriage Demons. Divorce sucks. It’s happening everywhere around us. There’s a single common thread in the divorces going on in our families and friends and that is: Everything changed when we got married. Obviously, this has us shaking in our boots a little bit, “What the hell goes [...]

35 comments you know you wanna read more..

marriage demons: ashley of hi-fi weddings

March 31, 2011

This is the seventh post in the guest series Marriage Demons. Divorce sucks. It’s happening everywhere around us. There’s a single common thread in the divorces going on in our families and friends and that is: Everything changed when we got married. Obviously, this has us shaking in our boots a little bit, “What the [...]

21 comments you know you wanna read more..

marriage demons: lisa of craft my life

March 28, 2011

This is the sixth post in the guest series Marriage Demons. Divorce sucks. It’s happening everywhere around us. There’s a single common thread in the divorces going on in our families and friends and that is: Everything changed when we got married. Obviously, this has us shaking in our boots a little bit, “What the [...]

16 comments you know you wanna read more..

marriage demons: liz of happy sighs

March 24, 2011

This is the fifth post in the guest series Marriage Demons. Divorce sucks. It’s happening everywhere around us. There’s a single common thread in the divorces going on in our families and friends and that is: Everything changed when we got married. Obviously, this has us shaking in our boots a little bit, “What the [...]

28 comments you know you wanna read more..

marriage demons: angie of one cat per person

March 21, 2011

This is the fourth post in the guest series Marriage Demons. Divorce sucks. It’s happening everywhere around us. There’s a single common thread in the divorces going on in our families and friends and that is: Everything changed when we got married. Obviously, this has us shaking in our boots a little bit, “What the [...]

33 comments you know you wanna read more..

marriage demons: alyssa of kind of a mess

March 14, 2011

This is the third post in the guest series Marriage Demons. Divorce sucks. It’s happening everywhere around us. There’s a single common thread in the divorces going on in our families and friends and that is: Everything changed when we got married. Obviously, this has us shaking in our boots a little bit, “What the [...]

44 comments you know you wanna read more..