I’m currently reading a fabulous book all about coming out of hiding. It’s about shame and freedom and what keeps our nose to the ground and what helps us breathe deeper. The book is Brazen by Leeana Tankersley and it came out this week! Go and order it right now! I’ll be here when you get back!
There are so many ways we come out of hiding and so many others ways to stay quiet and small and invisible. But today I want to let you in on my personal dirty little secret:
I like being married.
There I said it.
Some people think marriage is going to be all unicorns and rainbows and then once they are married are scared to admit that's it hard. And then there are others who thought marriage was going to be all hard, all transition, all change and are now scared to admit they actually like being married.
Isn’t it weird how certain things are just scary to admit? I feel sheepish and nervous admitting that I like my marriage with Scott in the kind of way that one might be embarassed to admit that they…
…really like the color pink.
…don’t like going out.
…like their sweatpants.
…like shopping at Walmart.
…like the satisfaction of digging out ingrown hairs.
…sometimes eat McDonalds (and like it).
…love reading non-intellectual books.
…actually like being single.
…like box macaroni and cheese.
…like to stay in on New Years Eve.
…like the smell of gasoline.
We are so embarrassed to talk about what we like. We act as if enjoying our marriage is as shameful as the joy we get from picking out ingrown hairs on our face. Whether we are single or married, it feels like there is a certain unspoken pressure that we are to dislike these states.
It’s easy to talk about what we hate right? We live in a culture that feeds off of negativity and toxic energy. Honestly most of the time it feels more natural to complain. More acceptable, even more likeable.
I am no stranger to this. After I married Scott, I started to notice this non-verbal rule everyone seemed to follow. Remember when you talked incessantly about your crush or when you had your first date or re-told your engagement story a thousand times? Well subtly that kind of talk decreases and the criticizing and spouse bashing increases. I began to wonder if the person you are supposed to love the most is also the person you will end up complaining about the most. And the worst part is I began to wonder if this was actually socially acceptable. Even desirable? I wondered if people no longer wanted to hear my mushy gushy details anymore or how in love I was. I began to ask myself, “Do they just want the dirt on my marriage? Do I just want the dirt on theirs? “*
But why?! Why do we CHOOSE someone and fall in love and then suddenly decide we have to talk about them like they are the punch line to a funny joke or a little side character in our story? Oh that little dud? Yeah I married them.
I have wondered if I need to be more into spouse bashing. I’ve got to be honest. There have been times where I have caught myself trying to think of something Scott did that annoyed me just to feel like I fit in. Is it true that once you are married everyone is so over the happily- ever-after nonsense that they just want to hear what’s wrong with your spouse?
Will the people who actually like being married please stand up? Please speak up and stand up! We neeeeeeeeeddddd you. Well actually I need you. I need to know it’s okay to like my marriage.
And I don’t mean the fake “everything is perfect, I swoon daily and have sex hourly” types. There are those, the ones with the vacant looks in their eyes with the tight smile, who feel like they have to keep pretending because vulnerablity is terrifying. I want to hear from people who LIKE their relationships even those they have experienced hard. They are the gutsy people who are brave enough to love vulnerably within their marriage.
It takes courage to live out of a place of abundance and not out of a place of scarcity. Sometimes celebrating and loving what you have is terrifying because it means you are really exposed and really vulnerable. Sometimes being happy in your marriage is a dirty little secret that you feel like has to stay hidden.
There are a number of reasons we do this of course:
We don’t want to make single people feel sad.
We don’t want people who have horrible marriages to feel sad.
We want to be sensitive so we act like we think our marriage is lame.
And so you know what we ultimately do? We push mute on our stories, our actual lives with our real spouses. We tone it down. We make it dull, rather than colorful and bright because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. We insist this is the polite and respectful thing to do. We sacrifice our spouse’s feelings at the expense of a cheap joke because the story is a crowd pleasing one.
But is it?
Are we really doing the world a favor by hiding?
I think part of living life abundantly is by celebrating big and grieving big. We can’t numb our feelings, even the good ones if we truly want to live a wholehearted life.
Let’s not make spousal bashing the norm or even popular. When we bash we are being critical and that says more about us than the person we are criticizing. It says, don’t get too close to me; look how I talk about the person I am closest to. All too often we hot wire connection through having a common enemy (aka the spouses). This isn’t real intimacy or a real way to gain trust. This may make us feel close to someone but is far too superficial to build a lasting relationship on.
And let’s not hide anymore. Instead let’s own our stories and work to embrace others, even our dirty little secrets.
Hello my name is Heather and I like being married.
I also like eating whole cans of black olives in one sitting.
*SIDE NOTE: I am not talking about sharing your soul and your deep wounds and desires to your safe people and friends. This kind of relational processing is necessary and healthy. I do not believe this is considered "spouse bashing" I believe close friends will know about the HARD stuff in marriage as well as the good stuff. They will encourage, sustain and challenge you. They will tell you when to stay in and when to get out. Also they know when you are faking it.