Monday, March 25, 2013

This Is Really Hard!

(Excerpt chap. 1)

As the pace of life quickened, our waistlines began to expand, our hairlines began to recede, and the stress of life began to creep in. As our children joined our lives, our bed became the communal sleep fortress for our children and we forgot what it was like to have a solid night of rest. We would blow a kiss and holler an ‘I love you’ as we passed through the portal of our home.  There seemed to be a constant time lapse between us and we could never land ourselves in the same place at the same time. My happily ever after was quickly transforming into a heap of work, and I found myself thinking, “This is not what I signed up for—this is not how I pictured happily ever after.”  Then I realized, maybe this is what I signed up for and I just don’t know how to make my ever after happy. I began to wonder, if perhaps it is possible to have a happily ever after, even when my white picket fence is broken, my ‘beautiful’ lawn is dead, and my children are less than angelic.

This unexpected realization of hope was not without precedent in my life.  Similarly, as I had prepared to go to college, I had been smothered with warnings: “It is so hard,” “don’t give up,” or “you can do it.”  I, of course, was all confidence and not the least bit worried. As my first finals approached, in my sleep-deprived state, the stress of school tumbled down onto me and I quickly realized my previous visions of an easy and blissful college experience were flawed. I had then thought to myself, “This is really hard.”  The same is true in marriage and family life. Nothing can prepare us for such a lengthy road of dedication; the only way to experience and understand family life is to live it.

When I spoke to my baby sister two months after her marriage, she told me about an exceptionally discouraging argument she had with her husband. In desperation she had burst out, “I don’t know how to be married!”  This couple had spent months preparing for marriage. They had discussed every family life topic they could conjure up; they had taken marriage preparation classes, and they had seen each other in just about every circumstance imaginable. They had received solicited and not so solicited advice and tried to listen, but still they felt unprepared. The happiest couples I know, many whom have been married ten, twenty, and thirty or more years still have moments when they just don’t know what to do, and they find themselves saying, “this is really hard!

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