Yup, I’m going there.

In the beginning, you get married. You are madly in love (or something) and you firmly believe the other person can do no wrong. In our case, we decided we were going to date, be in love, and get engaged on the same night. Picked out my engagement ring a week later. Got married six months later (and we only waited that long because we were living in different states at the time). Not weird at all, right? It was a whirlwind. Andrew’s idiosyncrasies were adorable, and I’m sure he felt the same about mine. He was the tall, dark, quiet, passionate, brooding type. I was the energetic, creative, slightly crazy type. It was all hand holding and walks in the park and romantic gestures. Fast forward five years. Three kids and one miscarriage later, student loans and a mortgage and things started to get real.

Sure, you are ‘really married’ from the start, but the actual feelings start happening at some point in that first five years. Like… “PLEASE PUT THE DISHES IN THE DISHWASHER STARTING FROM THE BACK OF THE RACK TOWARD THE FRONT.” You start to do things that annoy the other person. You are annoyed by the other person. “ARE YOU CHANGING THIS POOP DIAPER OR AM I?!” You get into an argument, or two. Maybe you even go to bed angry (heads up- not a good idea. That’s what everyone says anyway). And in the middle of one of the arguments, you think “What in the world is happening? Who is this person? Who am I?!” And that’s when it hits you. Things just got real. This is what people were talking about when they said marriage was work. It isn’t just first dates and I do’s. This person I’m married to is a real person- a really complicated human person- and as it turns out I am really complicated too.

So at this point you have a choice. You can a.) start to resent this human you share a bed with and question whether or not you are ‘meant to be’ and if you really are ‘soul mates’ after all, then possibly consider running away to an island somewhere or b.) work it out. Realize this isn’t a ‘bad marriage,’ it’s a real marriage! Keep talking, keep kissing, keep loading the dishwasher from the back of the rack to the front, even though you are well aware that isn’t the correct way to do it. And you feel everything and you know their faults aren’t anything personal against you. You start to notice all the great things they do, and you appreciate the little ways they put aside their own desires to make you happy. You watch them tuck your children into bed, night after night. And then you watch them patiently re-tuck your children into bed, because they keep getting out and running into the living room for a drink of water. (!!!) You defend them and you pray for them. You love them in a way you will never love anyone else. You realize this person is your partner for life, despite the disagreements and the imperfections. That’s the moment when you know- your marriage just got real.

This blog was written and provided by Jessica Bagley.

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