Friday, September 18, 2009

Blending

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a comment asking me what some of the struggles of marriage are. “Obviously, blending two lives into one cannot be easy at times,” she wrote. “Marriage is an amazing sacrament, and I hope to one day be called to mirror Christ's love in the world through the sacrament of marriage. However, I think us single gals out there need to know some of the areas you really worked as an individual and as a couple to prepare for, along with areas you wish you had prepared more for.”

When I made my list of the joys of marriage last month, I mentioned how easy that task was. For me, listing the struggles of marriage is a little harder. Yes, “blending two lives into one is not easy at times.” Like learning to share a single bathroom sink and mirror when I want to tweeze my eyebrows and Daniel wants to shave. Or dealing with pet peeve issues, like when Daniel leaves recycling in the kitchen sink to be rinsed out “later” or I forget to turn the computer off when I’ve finished using it.

But I feel like I’m beating a dead horse with silly stuff like that. Daniel and I worked through the major stuff in the four and a half years we were together before we got married—religion, values, lifestyle, desires for the future, etc. Early on when we were dating, there was a lot to do in these areas. You can read about that in my entries from last summer and fall. Now there are, of course, the standard newlywed issues such as time (which I’ll talk about now) and money (which I talked about on 9/3).

Time is a big one for Daniel and me, as I know it is for so many couples, because our time together during the week is restricted to a few hours each evening after work. In that limited amount of time, there is dinner to be prepared, enjoyed, and cleaned up. Then there is mail to be sorted, exercise, and lunches to be made for the next day if we actually get around to it. Not to mention other miscellaneous chores or errands to be run. Relaxation is an issue that goes along with time. I am not good at relaxing when I know that there are things that need to be done. Daniel, however, has no problem with this whatsoever. I get upset when I see him sitting around while I feel so stressed by everything I “have to do,” but he sees this as my own problem: “You could sit down with me if you wanted to,” etc. Voila! Tension. And we don’t even have kids yet!

With so little time at home together every day, we never get to bed as early as we would like to. This leads to another issue: waking up in the morning. This might not be one you would think of, but it is a lot harder to find your way out from under the covers when there is another warm body sleeping peacefully next to you!

Speaking of covers, sharing them has proved to be somewhat of a challenge as well. Daniel doesn’t like the sheets to be tucked into the mattress around him, while I like to have a neatly made bed before I climb into it. Once I’m off in dreamland, though, that rule apparently no longer applies. Daniel calls me a “burrito”, because while I’m asleep I like to steal the covers away from him by rolling up into them, leaving him shivering.

Like I said, this stuff is all pretty silly for the most part. I’ve touched on other struggles in the past few months, such as balancing time spent with friends and family, and making decisions about money. The thing is that overall, I feel like Daniel and I did a very good job in preparing for marriage. We had our priorities and goals in sync with one other, which I think is the most important thing. In fact, our lives were already so intertwined before we got married that actually getting married and moving in together made our relationship easier. That is why answering this question was difficult for me. Our situation was pretty unique, though; we know this isn’t how it is for most people.

Maybe some readers who have been married for longer than Daniel and I have can help me out with answering this question about the struggles involved in the blending of lives in the sacrament of marriage…

6 comments:

Jessica said...

I read your blog and feel like we need to get together for lunch or something. It's like reading a description of my own life at the moment. My new husband and I worked out so many of those big issues during the four and a half years we dated before we were married, and so now, yeah, one of the biggest issues is how to spend the time in the evenings. I'm exactly the same way, where I see it as my limited time to get things on my to-do list done, and he just wants to relax. We eventually figured out that the main issue was that he was feeling guilty when I was doing something "productive" and he wasn't, so he wanted me to stop. Once I convinced him that I really genuinely didn't care if he just wanted to read a book or play a video game while I worked on my projects, then things became a little easier.

Anyway, good luck and keep blogging!

Good Thunder said...

Oh Sarah- Isn't life beautiful? Little silly struggles like blanket stealing or picking the wrong time to relax and having to forgive for things like that are what I've started to call "party sufferings". It's just those little things that could annoy you- but so much good comes with them that you'd rather suffer and forgive than not have them at all- especially because it's your vocation! It's like homework is for me right now- sure I'd like to sit around and sew all day but God wants me to do homework and so much peace comes out of it that I am truly happy suffering through it. It's not even suffering! That's why I have to call it a party suffering. Isn't God great?!! Praised be Jesus!

Anonymous said...

Of course you only argue about silly stuff. You agree on all the important things -- if you didn't, you wouldn't have wanted to marry each other.

Part of this is a communications barrier. What you really SHOULD be doing is saying, "Can you please help me with X chore so I can give you my undivided attention when we sit down together afterwards."

Part of it is habit. You like your neatly made bed and you like rolling up in the covers, and you're not accustomed to sharing a bed yet. What might help is this little trick that my husband and I figured out after years of quarreling about the bedcovers. When we (mostly I now that there are kids!) make our bed, I use a bottom sheet, two top sheets, a blanket and a quilt. However, the first top sheet is only a twin size and it's only on my side of the bed, folded in half lengthwise and tucked in at the bottom (though you could fold it in thirds and tuck one side in if that's what you are used to). When I get settled into bed, I used that first top sheet to bundle myself in. The other top sheet rests smoothly across both of us, with the quilt over top. In the wintertime when I am especially chilled, I add a long-sleeved t-shirt and socks under my usual jammies, so I can get the warmth I need without overheating my husband.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I have been married just under 2 years and reading your entry about weeknights and covers was as if I wrote it myself. We are still working on the relaxing thing since my husband is so much better at it than I. However I like to 'relax' some on the weekends and this is when my husband gets the bug to do the yard and household stuff, getting in sync with that is definitely an area we still work on.

Keep blogging, I look forward to every entry.

Elizabeth said...

I too could relate with many of your examples of the struggles with blending families early marriage. I remember feeling totally out of my element having to "share" Saturday morning with someone as I was quite accustomed to doing my own thing. Grocery shopping is one thing we love to do together, yet having to share this and communicate my plan at the store was challenging at times.



We've been married 5 years, and also now have a 2 year old son. The one thing I can speak to in terms of "blending" is family of origin issues. Our families are very similar in many ways: faith, family composition, engagement in family centered activities, values,etc. However, they differ in imporant ways. Our parent's attitudes about work, gender roles, and work division are somewhat different. The expectations we brought to marriage (implicit and explicit) lead to disagreements. Working through these and communicating as they creep up has been key.

Another "blending" challenge is dealing with the holidays. Our first Christmas, I definitely sobbed as I realized that there was no way to attend everything. I loved that he was into his family, and I wanted to share all of my families activities with him too, but it became quicklly apparent that this wasn't feasible. Figuring out what was getting cut, and what traditions were important to us was an important growing step. It was a struggle and something that I would also count as a blessing too.

Thanks!

Katy said...

I agree with Anon #1: don't underestimate the value of separate sets of blankets. Especially in the winter, my husband and I are both "burritos," so we just pile as many blankets as we want on the bed, pick the ones we want for the night, and roll up side by side. It's amazing how much better we both sleep -- and how much more calmly proper rest can help us handle everything else.

This is just an example of how the solutions you come up with on your own as a couple will almost always be best for these practical problems, because they have their source in your loving communication. Don't be afraid to suggest possibilities, big or small, to one another; never dismiss anything right away no matter how it sounds to you at the time. Try anything once. When my husband came up with the separate-blankets idea, I didn't want to try it because I thought it would diminish the closeness of sharing a bed, but when we both woke up so rested, happy, and warm that first morning after giving it a shot, if anything it was easier to feel closer and more loving toward one another. Which comes to one of my own personal challenges, how to keep my ideas of how the details of married life "should" be from having a negative impact on the lived reality -- but that's maybe a topic for another post. :)