I Thought Marriage Would 'Fix' Everything But It Didn't
Recently, Hub and I got a reminder of how scary life used to be during the two weeks following sex. It felt a lot like our teenage years. Over the last couple of weeks, we’d taken a few sexual “risks” and since neither of us is interested in hormonal interventions (i.e., birth control), we didn’t know what to expect.
We already have two children. We love them, but it’s not always easy. He travels a lot for work, we also have two dogs, and… well, two kids is just a lot of freaking work.
We wouldn’t be totally unprepared if a third kid came a little early. I think we can both visualize a third child in the mix someday. Still, right now, we want to enjoy our lives and get the latest kid out of our bed. A new baby would throw us off of our groove, and we’re just getting into the flow of things from the last detour. We want to wait a couple more years – and avoid having two kids in diapers at the same time.
I wouldn’t necessarily describe the experience as scary, but I would definitely classify it as a “pregnancy scare.” My period calendar suggested I was about two weeks late. I took that information with a grain of salt considering my body hadn’t fully regulated post-baby since I’m still breastfeeding on demand. Nonetheless, we were both pretty shocked when my period showed up late last week.
Looking back, the nostalgia of “pregnancy scares” was something I never expected to experience after I had a ring on my finger. The world socializes us to see marriage as the solution to all relationship problems, but spoiler: that’s a lie.
“Getting the ring” didn’t stop fights, struggles, or communication issues. And apparently, having committed to someone – hopefully for the rest of your lives – doesn’t make the risk of an unexpected pregnancy any easier either.
Before marriage, I foolishly expected not to care if I was pregnant. But the stigma and anxiety around judgment from others about possibly having three kids in five years took over where fear of being an “unwed mother” left off.
As it turns out, the weight of social ridicule, the burden of finances, and even the stress of trying to build intimacy don’t disappear without doing the work. Those things are there whether you’re married or not.
Pre-marriage I believed calling someone your spouse was the most intimate thing that could ever be done. That said, imagining myself as the pinnacle of intimacy meant that I thought I would never be jealous of the relationship anyone had with my husband ever again. You might have seen this coming, but that was a lie. A TOTAL LIE.
Marriage didn’t suddenly transform me into this secure person who knew my husband would have plenty of different but not better relationships. Hell, there were even relationships from before we met that have lead to some enormous fights.
Jealousy doesn’t see a change in status as a barrier. The answer is to work on the way we see ourselves and understand we can’t be everything for our partners.
The envy is still very real post-nuptials.
While we’re on the subject of feelings of love and intimacy, before marriage I expected “putting a ring on it” would wrap me in a cloak of emotional security. When we were dating, all I could think about was the day I would carry his last name and finally feel like I was The One.
I fell into the lie that being married is a sign that a person really cared for you. I neglected to acknowledge that plenty of folks are married and in toxic relationships.
It’s been five years since we made that commitment. But I was shocked to wake up one day and discover that I didn’t feel any more secure than I was before we were married. I was the same person I was years ago, eagerly waiting for him to affirm my value. Turns out, that is something I’ll have to figure out on my own.
Similarly, religion and social shame have done a number on me. My dreams of having a healthy relationship with sex seem possible only in my imagination. I expected the commitment of marriage to erase the negative messages I’d been taught about sex and pleasure, but they don’t seem to be moving. In some ways, things have gotten worse. Now, on top of the shame, I feel guilty that I’m not more available and feel like I’m letting my partner down.
We’re still pretty early in the marriage game. But I’ve learned that marriage isn’t a magic pill capable of solving all of one’s problems. It’s a challenge trying to unlearn all the rough stuff life has sent your way. Still, I refuse to lose hope and say that things can’t improve from here.
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