Marriage

Dear Newlywed Who Feels Like She’s Failing

Hey yáll. I wrote this post so many years back and it was oxygen to me. I decided to reshare it in case it helps any newlyweds out there that are doing the thing without guests cheering them on since the wedding and honeymoon is over. I’ve got love for you, so I hope this post, all from my context, helps you.

“More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes, the better comes after the worse.”

― Doug Larson

“Redeemed love is the most tender love.”

― Fawn Weaver

Dear newlywed who feels like she’s failing, You’re not. I know. I know. Why should you take my word for it? Me, the one whose Instagram life tends to pay homage to the beauty of fall and inspired décor on a budget. Me, the one who’s just freshly clocked 6 months with my husband and writes often about our love sharing pictures of us doting on each other.

I hear you. What can I possibly say that would be less than the perfect life I have? That I’ve been there, is a good start. You nod a little at my seemingly perfunctory answer. Sure, I guess you’d have to be there to see it all. So how about I let you in on it all.

Like how we didn’t go for a swim during our week long honeymoon; the closest we got to it being a walk on the beach to look for some skilled hands that could tame my frizzy mane. As if a swim would come by just as easily after.

Oh, and that time I instinctively let go of the hand of my six day old husband after watching Antman at the Cineplex to make a mad dash for Mr. Price before closing time, just so I could try on a few lot of clothes when I knew I could only buy one or two.

Or those lovely (not) words that I said a few moments after the cab brought us back home from the airport. “I didn’t sign up for this.” I didn’t sign up for this? Awesome! Who says that right after they get home from the honeymoon? That would be me. There were gifts to open, envelopes with cash and gift cards to account for and my wedding bouquet was missing (that’s another long story). It was a dumb thing to say, but fear was seeping through my skin, hot and beaded, like sweat. I was sad about the amount of money and gift cards we got, which was absolutely unfair because we received more than enough prior to the wedding. As if all that we received in those envelopes wasn’t enough to buy a good bed, bedding, gas cooker, cookware and other home accessories. As if more money wasn’t going to come in soon after.

But that was the surface reason I gave to my husband about my piercing words. Truth is, I was afraid. I was afraid that my pushing pause days were over. And they were. I was no longer planning a wedding, so telling myself to push pause on how I’d make money once I got married wouldn’t work. I had just stepped into my after. And I was scared. I was scared that my husband would look at me as less than, or lazy, or ungrateful because I wasn’t bringing in money for us. I struggled with days on end spent hiding out in the house until Sunday morning, afraid of bumping into friends who would generously ask, “What are you up to these days?” and not having a job description to share.

Or how about that time during a marketplace meeting when I was asked to share how the journey so far had been for me and I laughed, thinking that it was a joke only to realize that everyone was waiting for an answer from me. So I gave a surface response on the only visible thing going for me – my blog. My blog, which I loved but had me stressing on impact and reach, readership and likability, numbering and counting my significance online. My blog – which I always reached out for as a response because it was a perfect bulletproof vest for those dreaded questions about what I was up to. My blog which had me drowning because it exposed my deep longing for affirmation and approval that I wasn’t less than because I wasn’t on anyone’s payroll.

Then there’s that time when I was at a creative meeting and I shared, without tearing up, about my jewellery. And my pastor casually thought to say (in passing as he was talking about something else, but not to me) that I wasn’t a housewife. To which I laughed. I carried the words with me once I got home and basked in their goodness for a brief minute before doing dishes seething like an erupting volcano telling God, “Then why do I feel like a housewife? I do housewife things.”

And just while we’re on the subject of housekeeping, I wasn’t the best at it. Actually, 90% of my failings were housekeeping, housewifey failings. How I knew that I needed to clean the house more and cook more, but there was a solid month where we ate out for at least 20 days straight because I just couldn’t deal. And that’s probably why I ended up stopping the whole Morning Pages thing because I was too aware of myself, my fear, flaws and concerns.

Morning Pages (The Artist’s Way workbook by Julia Cameron) Day 7 Week 2 26th October 2015 entry excerpt

“I need to say this here. I feel like I’ve been a disappointment to David. Like I’ve been too much, too burdensome, too bossy, too un-nice to him. I don’t know why I have. Really. I love him. But is there some kind of mistrust of his kindness to me? Like, I feel like I don’t deserve it or that I’ve been asking too much of him. Month 3 has been hard for me. Seen myself in the worst light. So I need to be kinder to David. In action, in word and in thought. This is in the house, before the blogs or raving about him. I need to be the wife he deserves. He does too much without complaining (Lord reward and bless him exceedingly) and thank you for the gift of David. I have more than enough. More than I need with him in my life.”

Morning Pages (The Artist’s Way workbook by Julia Cameron) Week 3 Day 1 27th October 2015 entry complete

“So I initiated the conversation with David yesterday night before bed. It didn’t go down well. We spent over 18+ hours not talking which was harder than I first thought. Sure, I could have said bad things, but that would be easy. Keeping quiet, now that’s where the work starts. Like I said yesterday, I felt silently judged and I knew it. Didn’t want to hear it but I so badly wanted to know. Was he disappointed? Did he think I was a letdown? Of course these are things that ran through my mind often but I guess I just wanted to confirm if they were the same things on his mind.

I broke the silence. Comes with being the talker. I just felt like it would be easier to be close and I was right. The night was horrendous. My mind was a minefield. Why do I find the thought of being a housewife excruciating? It feels like I have nothing better to do with my life. Today, I did the whole cleaning, washing clothes and cooking thing and was so wiped. Even showering felt like an extra burden. Like, my body was wiped. This is actually harder than people make it out to be. But like I said, housewifing feels like failure. Like, why should I try to look for jobs if opportunities keep slipping by (talking about this opportunity). Maybe I should just chill and housewife even though I absolutely hate it. I’ll probably look for opportunities to let David know that.

I just want to make extra money that can help us. I’m wishing I’d be high above it all like You are. Above worry, the need for money or a job, or to hustle, or to make something of myself. These things are pretty difficult and I’m done acting like I know how to do stuff. I don’t know. Help me know. Help me become. Help me not to be so angry and disappointed most of the time. I think all I want, all I’ve wanted was a win. An entry into the next so we can keep growing from there.

Maybe I give up easy. Maybe I don’t know how not to. Jeff Goins said that it’s when you don’t want it that bad that you get it. Is that true? And how can I do this Lord? Coz I’ve wanted it, and I guess parts of me still want it. It’s just quiet and dim right now. I want to be successful. I want to be admired and listened to. I want to be known. But everyone else also wants the same things so what makes me any different? What makes what I’m doing any different? I’m back to square one. Help me see, know and go in the direction my life is supposed to take. I’m out of ideas and juice. Help me out here.”

Though Morning Pages was healing on most days, healing takes time if you’re working the roots. So many mornings, I’d be so depressed and stuck in bed feeling like a failure, only for my husband to return home from work at 11 to unprepared breakfast. And you know what he’d do? He’d make us both breakfast. Sometimes also doing the dishes and preparing dinner without saying a word just so I don’t spiral again. See why he’s the man of the year 3 years running? He deserves a medal or 2.

I know this isn’t a sucky housewives contest, but I just had to show you the worse so you can understand that it gets better. It gets better, and easier. You just need to show yourself wild grace, every day, without fail. Extend yourself an olive branch each morning and each night before you sleep. Don’t punish yourself for feeling like you’re taking so long to heal, or taking so long to finally kick butt at being married or making sense of your life. Like Laura Jane Williams said, “Sometimes, you wait longer than feels fair for that glory, and the waiting is the point of it all, really. The waiting is when life happens.”

Because you’re figuring out this whole being married thing out, you’re likely to bring in a lot of what you never dealt with before you got married into your marriage. Remember to show yourself wild grace – torrents of it. Hot like the sun, piercing like lightning, urgent like the wind. And never forget that God’s love and mercy is like a flood, always rising over you. He’ll help you through it. Be honest about where you are, maybe even journal about it. Exposing your secrets (first of all and mostly to yourself) is the only way you won’t become them. Face your fears through the whole marriage thing. You’ll be braver, stronger, and better for it. And you’ll probably see your fears for the smoke and mirror lies they always were – illusions to keep you from becoming all you can be in marriage.

And on matters housekeeping, if it concerns you, do one thing every day. Clean the bathroom today, the living room tomorrow, the bedroom tonight, the kitchen the day after. Then repeat. Doing it in bite sizes makes it less overwhelming, pleasant even.

Don’t get sucked into feeling that you should be a certain way if it leads you to a try hard life. Figure out what works for you. Take your time. And if you have friends over and your window sill is dusty because you never spend much time in the living room, shake it off. Clean it after. So you have guests and can feel particles on your floor from last night’s toast fest? Happens. Don’t let it bug you. Do better next time but don’t idolize having a magazine spread worthy house so much that your house becomes unlivable. Let your seats get biro pen marks. Maybe you or a friend might accidentally share half your morning coffee with your sofa. No biggie. At least your seats clean easy. A home is supposed to be lived in. Show grace for the effects of it.

But let me repeat this so you don’t forget – it gets better. Working the reins of being the administrator of your home gets easier. It always does. Give thanks for your man for sticking with you through it all. And love him wildly for it. He cares for you, loves you, and will be there through the changes you’ll go through as a wife to lend a helping hand, and as a witness to your transformation. God bless him so! He’s your greatest ally, cheerleader and comforter.

Be kind to him even on your hard days. Wait. Especially on your hard days. Your life will not go unnoticed because he’ll have firsthand sight of just how you’re becoming, and just how you matter. Because you do dear. You matter. I know I said it, but I’ll say it one more time – you’re not failing. You’re just learning the ropes and coming up with what works for the both of you. Take your time and try to enjoy the in between days of figuring it out before it becomes instinctual.

You can do hard things. You’ll see just how when another newlywed basks in your encouragement soon enough.

xo always,

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