A few weeks ago I was invited as a guest on a show, to talk about relationship issues. As the host introduced me, she mentioned that I was happily married, which I am.
When I got home that day, however, I started wondering what listeners would understand “happily married” to mean. That I never had issues in my marriage? That I was the perfect wife and my spouse the perfect husband? That I have never wondered whether I married the wrong person, never felt like shooting him, never contemplated divorce? That I have it all together and am therefore qualified to tell them what to do?
One thing I’ve learnt about wifehood and motherhood is that we, wives and mothers, have tremendous power to comfort and encourage each other on this journey. One simple way to do that is to share our experiences with honesty.
I remember one episode in Season 1 of Desperate Housewives where the usually resilient Lynette, overwhelmed by the incredible pressure of trying to hold a home together with 4 kids and no help, broke down, dumped her kids with the neighbour (I always pitied her especially with those twin boys, gosh!) and drove off to a field to cry. The other wives met her there, and to comfort her as she lamented about being a bad mother, they also shared their own experiences- even Bree who always seemed to have it together admitted that she had spent many a nap time crying when her kids were younger. Lynette was surprised! “We should tell each other this stuff,” she sobbed.
Yes, we draw strength when we know we are not alone. The challenges you face as a wife and mother are shared by countless mums around the world, so be encouraged. The temptations and trials that you face are not peculiar to you.
Recently I had a hilarious chat with other wives that started when one of us mentioned how she felt like killing her husband the day before. One by one we began to recount our experiences, and found out that almost every wife in the group had at one point or the other felt such strong dislike for their spouse, usually following something they did that hurt or offended. Two had even fantasised about writing books — 1001 Ways to Kill Your Husband and Get Away With It and End Him Deliciously. We found ourselves rolling on the floor laughing. These are happily married women! One of us mentioned that it would be a good study for her Psychology programme: “How one person can simultaneously evoke the strongest positive and negative emotions: a case study of marriage.”
Even funnier was the fact that after the annoyance had passed the same women could talk about how kind, funny, generous and helpful their husbands are. One wife was even ill and the same husband she was mad at was the one feeding her and washing her hand! Now imagine if this was the only side we saw. We would think that “happily married” consisted of moments like this and nothing else. Yet, every happily married wife knows that this is not so.
Sometimes they drive you up a wall. Sometimes you wonder, “God, what is this? Did I make a mistake and marry the wrong person?” Sometimes the sex is amazing and sometimes it’s not so great. Sometimes you don’t even want to have sex, but you do it anyway. Sometimes you see his flaws so clearly that you’re appalled. Then you realise he sees your own flaws very clearly too, and you both have to accept each other. You have arguments and feel so awful, and you share humorous moments and laugh so hard. Sometimes you feel like you’re doing so much and getting too little appreciation. Sometimes you can’t help but thank God for bringing them your way. Sometimes you don’t even want to be married; you just want to run away.
None of these mean that you’re not happily married. These things happen to other people too, not just you. It’s all part of married life. It’s not just enough to rejoice that through the terrific ups and the terrible downs, we are still standing, learning, forgiving, loving, growing; we should tell each other this stuff.