Sarafina Bianco shares four lessons she’s learned about marriage as a newlywed.
To my husband,
Life showed us it wasn’t fair last Monday. It showed us happiness isn’t promised, sometimes regret is palpable and hard decisions don’t wait for any milestones to pass. No, instead we’re stuck dealing with unhappiness before we’ve reached a year of marriage. Here we stand facing the hardest times of our entire relationship—even before we vowed ourselves to one another—wondering why the pain we face couldn’t have held off until the rest of our life nestled itself into blankets of security.
But we must continue moving forward anyway, even though we want to stop time and lick our wounds.
I want you to know what I’ve learned from it all:
1. I won’t always give the answers you want.
Sometimes my answer will be drastically different than what you want it to be. And I’m sorry to cause you pain in this way. Sometimes the best decision will be the hardest to accept, and I promise that—when I’m on the giving end—I will always remember you’ll have to tell me exactly what I don’t want to hear someday. So I’ll share with you what needs to be said, but I’ll do it with as much grace as I can. And I’ll let you grieve however you can, because I want the same from you next time.
Even though I won’t always give the answer you want, I will always try to say whatever we need.
2. We won’t always feel like a team.
I’ve read about the times when married couples feel lonely in their relationships, yet I ignorantly hoped we would be different. The truth? Nobody is safe from feeling alone, even when our bed is for two. But in my moments of solitude, I promise to always remember you’re next to me, and remind you of our vow to one another. You will always know when the emptiness creeps in and leaves doubt and alienation inside me. So that, maybe, by sharing the ice in my veins, the separation will close faster than if I hid it from you.
There will be times when we feel alone. But that doesn’t mean we are. Please remember I’m always next to you, and I’d much rather you tell me whatever it is you’re feeling, than live a different life in the same house.
3. Apologies aren’t the same as actions.
Early last week I told you I was sorry almost every time you looked at me. And you did the same. Funny, our apologies to one another weren’t enough. They didn’t satisfy what either of us wanted or needed. Instead, they made us feel as if we didn’t have a choice in the matter at all. They paralyzed us in our unhappiness and kept our healing from beginning.
But when we began acting on our feelings, showing each other we still cared and valued each other, and loved one another despite our disagreement, the apologies stopped being the most shared sentiments.
And our words were felt, instead of heard, because we were doing something other than giving in.
I will always try to act instead of apologize. I will do what I can to make the next step easier, less heartbreaking. Even though it’s never easy, even though sometimes it feels as if we’re pretending, I will do this to better our marriage. Because the hardest thing to sit with is a false apology. Authenticity and empathy are key, and that’s what I’ll try to give you.
4. My list will continue growing as we do.
The biggest mistake I could make in my commitment to you, is to believe I have all of the answers now. The truth? We have so much to learn. When the next big event pulls us under and tries to suffocate us, I will listen and try and revise my list of things I know about marriage.
Maybe we’ll never be experts and, truthfully, if we’re not, maybe that means we have an easy life. But when we’re faced with undeniable sadness again (because we will face it), I will remember the mistakes I made from our first real test, and I will do whatever I can do avoid them and navigate our situation with more grace.
If this list doesn’t grow, then our relationship won’t either.
Even if you never read my words, I’ve shared all of this with you throughout this week, and that’s why we’re still standing.
That’s why we’re still holding hands as we walk through the debris.
That, my love, is why I married you.
Holding your hand through our trial makes our future happiness greater, the current pain less haunting and the next step feel far less scary than if you weren’t next to me.
Photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simoes/Flickr