I love sunlight. I love when it streams through the windows in the morning and lights up the whole room with warm happiness. It delights my soul. I could soak in sunlight for hours, gaining energy and positivity from every ray.
My husband hates sunlight.
Yeah, here we go.
He prefers darkness. He prefers that we never open the blinds. He thrives in the solitude, keeping the fast-paced world outside where it belongs. When he's playing video games and I open the blinds to let the light in, he hisses playfully. It's cute. It makes me laugh.
But it didn't always make me laugh, and he didn't always hiss playfully.
It used to be a chip on my shoulder and a thorn in his side. Sunlight. We could easily argue about sunlight.
It seems silly, I know. It seems like the dumbest thing in the world to argue about. But that's what happens. Something as small as a disagreement about how much sunlight to let in a room can breed frustration that compiles into anger until one day, BOOM! You're screaming at each other over sunlight.
Of course we know it's not really about the sunlight. In this scenario, sunlight is unfortunately the tip of the iceberg. The bigger fight that follows is caused by our aversion to discussing the real problem.
The lesson lies in figuring out what's behind the sunlight. What's the deeper issue?
For us, it's about comfort. It makes him more comfortable to not have sunlight, but it makes me gloomy without it. It makes me happy and energized with tons of sunlight, but it makes him more irritable because his eyes are sensitive and he doesn't feel comfortable with the world peering into our lives. So, we have to find the happy medium. But sometimes before we can find the happy medium, we have to sludge our way through the trenches of, what I'll call, marriage warfare.
Marriage Warfare Is Real
It might stem from a mishap in communication. From being in a cranky, tired or stubborn mood. From feeling misunderstood. You fill in the blank. Fights happen. And sometimes they get ugly.
If you know anything about marriage, you know that one fight about one issue can easily snowball into multiple fights about multiple issues, and pretty soon you have one huge battle. What starts with hurt feelings leads to anger over breakdown in communication, which leads to frustration and guilt, which reminds you about past wounds that haven't healed. And maybe that's just YOUR side. Your spouse might be standing there frustrated about a plethora of other things that you hadn't even thought about. And before you know it, one long weekend goes by full of quarreling and periods of stubborn silence. ONE WHOLE WEEKEND. And, if you're anything like me, you find yourself sitting there wondering if anyone else understands how freaking hard it is?
How hard what is? Being a wife. Being a lover. Being a friend. Being kind and supportive. Being submissive, encouraging, and patient. Living as an imperfect human being with another imperfect human being. FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES.
It's SO beautiful, this thing we call marriage. So beautiful. And, in case you don't want to read to the end, it's so worth it. But it's also very, very hard.
They tell you it's hard. Those jerks. Anyone who's ever been married says, "Marriage is hard," and you don't really believe them. Well, maybe you believe them, but you don't really KNOW. No, you can't possibly, truly understand how hard marriage is until you're married. Until you're sitting on the floor of your bathroom, throwing wads of snot-filled Kleenex in the trash because of a fight that seems insurmountable. You can't fully understand how hard marriage is until you feel alone in your marriage, even if it's just for a weekend.
You know what I mean?
The Struggle Is Real
Here's why I'm writing this: You aren't alone in your marriage woes. And it's important that we share that with one another, openly and honestly, because when married people share their struggles, it helps other marriages GROW.
I'm a big sharer. My husband is, too. We aren't afraid to tell our friends when we argue and what nonsense we argue about. You know why? Because we want to help other couples grow--and we want to grow ourselves. We can't do that if we shut ourselves off from the world and from the advice and experiences of others. Sharing your fights can build a common bond. It can enlighten. It can strengthen. It can help other marriages persevere through tough times--and prevent avoidable mistakes. It proves that nobody's marriage is perfect, and that's OK.
Sure, sharing your flaws and struggles can be embarrassing. But wouldn't it be more embarrassing if your marriage falls apart and then you realize that there were others going through it who could've helped you? That you weren't really alone?
You're not the only couple who argues. You're not the only couple who has shouting matches, scream fests, meltdowns and silent protests until someone caves. You're not the only couple who struggles with communication, resentment, bad moods and selfishness. Comprende? You are not the only couple. Trust me. You're not.
I know you're not alone in your struggles because my husband and I are part of a married life group, and in that life group there are newlyweds and not-so-newlyweds who've all shared about their imperfect marriages. They all struggle with the same selfishness I do, and their fights aren't so different from the ones I have with my husband. Sure, ours may start with sunlight and theirs with a dirty sink, but the underlying issues are the same: We all got issues.
Together we have a safe place to share our struggles and the support to get through them. It's because of hearing their stories that I know my husband and I aren't alone. In fact, we're encouraged to see that we're growing from every campaign of warfare. And if somebody else feels encouraged or hopeful because of what we've been through, that's a win.
The Commitment Is Real [And A Choice]
Sometimes when you're standing in dirty socks at midnight because your spouse forgot to do the laundry and you ask why it didn't get done and your spouse explodes in anger which causes you to lash out like a self-righteous teenager--when that happens and you feel like your entire relationship is doomed, take a breath.
This is only one moment in a lifetime of moments you'll share.
If you're both committed to working on your marriage and working on yourselves, not only can you get through it, you will laugh about it someday. You really will. And the best people to laugh about it with are people who are in the same situation.
I do. Mack and I giggle uncontrollably every time we tell our life group about a fight. BECAUSE WE ARE TWO CRAZY PEOPLE WITH STRONG PERSONALITIES SHARING A HOUSE TOGETHER. Warfare is bound to happen. For me, sharing our struggles helps me realize that every disagreement, every argument, every fight is NOT the end of the world (because that's usually where my girl-brain takes me). Sure, someday there's probably going to be a fight that's way worse than any other fight, but if we keep God at the center, we will weather the storm.
The beauty is that at the end of the long weekend of warfare, when the dust settles, we still love each other like crazy. We choose to love each other, apologize and forgive.
Strangely enough, that makes the warfare worth it.