“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Charles Dickens wrote. Though he was referring to 18th Century Europe, he might as well have been talking about marriage.
In the seven and a half short (but seemingly long) months since we said our vows, I’ve learned more about myself, relationships, and life in general than I did in the preceding 26 years. And what I’ve learned is not that love conquers all and “I do” is simply followed by happily ever after. I have learned that marriage, just like life, is messy and incredibly hard. But if I keep showing up, keep putting in the effort, there is also incredible beauty to be found shining through.
Nothing prepares you for the simultaneous glory and heartache that comes from committing yourself to another person for life.
I like to think I walked down the aisle with open eyes, prepared for what lied ahead. “Marriage is hard,” people tell you. That’s ok, I thought, I can do hard things. I’ve got this, I was made for this. We had been together for years, so we both knew what to expect. Or so we thought.
When we get too comfortable and confident, it seems that’s when life starts throwing curve balls. In a matter of weeks into our marriage, the curve balls started flying fast and furious, relentlessly pummeling the foundation of our marriage and our very selves. From a devastating loss to broken promises, from lies to issues with alcohol – the beauty we worked so hard to create was replaced in the blink of an eye with endless mess raining down.
Daily disappointments settled into the cracks of our broken hearts and shattered dreams. There seemed to be no space for beauty to shine through.
But seeds of hope, like wildflowers, bloom most beautifully in unexpected places; taking root through the sheer force of will to hang on under difficult circumstances. And this hope is where the hard work of sifting through the mess begins.
Day after day we have to clear the debris and rebuild one block at a time. Day after day we have to choose to trust – ourselves and each other – and keep moving forward. Day after day we have to rediscover that person we chose to marry and learn to love them, to truly accept them in all their broken humanity, all over again. Some days one or both of us don’t think we can make it, and that scares me more than the mess itself. But we keep trying, keep taking tiny steps of grace; each step uncovering just a bit of beauty.
The beauty shows up in the unexpected and wildly ordinary moments. A glimpse of my husband’s face, alive with passion, as he prepares to pilot a plane. The soft brush of his hand on my hip as I wash the dishes. Working together, side by side, to weed the garden and make room for new growth. The magic of uttering “Thank You” and “I Love You” to one another, even on the worst of days. Sometimes it’s simply those precious few moments before we fall asleep as we hold each other close, our silent victory lap, we made it through another day.
When I get asked a dozen times a day, “How’s married life?” I know these are the things I’m not supposed to say. Hide the mess, sing out the beauty. I should, and usually do, smile and respond, “great!” But the truth is, beauty and mess coexist. It’s their inseparable intermingling that make life and love honest, real, and incredibly enlightening.
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!
9 responses to “How’s Married Life? My Messy Beautiful”
Once again, dear lady your wisdom and power of writing amazes! This writing harkens back to a long ago conversation we had on a road trip. Keep breathing and talking and listening and believing and being gentle with yourself and your husband and you will be okay. You are not alone. I will get a copy of the book. Looks like a good one. Be well
Thank you as always Mrs. S. I often think back on that wonderful road trip and the wisdom you have bestowed upon me in the years before and since. Thank you for being an unwavering good friend and source of support. It’s so so good to remember that I’m not alone!
Court, your writing is powerful and beautiful and it is so wonderful to see it evolve. You are an inspiration and thank you for your vulnerability to admit to the mess without succumbing to it. I love you sis.
Oh, and want to write my vows? :o)
Love and miss you so much!
Thank you my dear sissy! I’m sure you’ll have many lessons on marriage to teach me in a few months just as you’ve always been my talented teacher throughout life. I’m afraid if I wrote your vows though they might be a bit too honest… 🙂
I’ve been taking in your eloquently spoken refections … they are landing like truth for me as well. I’m so grateful that Glennon’s Messy Beautiful Project has connected me to lovely writers like yourself! And … if my 37 years of marriage has taught me anything … its that the joys get incrementally bigger as we make our way through the inevitable messes that stretch us into the next best expression of wife/husband that we can possibly be. Actually, that we never coudl have been without the mess …
Once again, so lovely to meet you Mrs _________. Warmest smiles, Karen
Thank you Karen for your incredibly encouraging words! I am so so glad I have connected with you – and I know I have so much to learn from you about marriage (37 years, wow!) and so much else. The mess is not just a part of life, but a necessity to uncover the blessings and beauty.
Oh, and it’s Mrs. Moore 🙂
S o glad to share this space with you Mrs Moore! 🙂
Great post. I’m married for a bit less than a month and every once in a while, I keep wondering if I’m the only one struggling with issues. Thanks for the post and saying that it’s okay when things are not okay. Love can get one through pretty much everything.
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