People don’t tell you how terrifying considering marriage can be. No one really warns you much until you’re suddenly in a relationship and nearing that decision very seriously. Some people get really intense about it. “You really want to deal with that?” They ask. Wondering if you’re really sure. Then reiterating the horror stories they’ve lived out and seen. Of course they mean well…you suspect. They aren’t trying to harm you. They just want to ask the hard questions. They may be scared for you, or just want you to think very seriously and critically about another person. They just want to help.
At least I keep telling myself that.
Because I’m a very empathetic person, I often hear about other people’s relationships, and usually what they tell me is their frustrations with their spouse’s dysfunctions. How those dysfunctions make them feel. How they’ve dealt with those dysfunctions (usually in a way that I personally feel as very irrational or poorly done) and their lack of success for change (go figure). I often try not to give my opinions, because as an empath, my first resort is to try to see the other person’s perspective. To ask why they think their spouse/significant other does that particular behavior. To try to get them to think. What I end up doing is upsetting them when I do that. Being told I’m too young to understand and how it was foolish of them to confide in me.
No, it wasn’t foolish to confide in me. I’m not too young. I understand perfectly clearly what’s going on…and you’re both being morons.
While I can be a stubborn person, I usually have enough personal understanding to realize when my stubbornness is destructive. That’s from years of watching dysfunctional relationships happen before my eyes, combined with being an introvert. Introspection is my specialty. Self awareness is essential to me. I know my words will have an emotional impact on someone, because the words of others have had an emotional impact on me. Because I am an empath I find myself caring very much about how my words impact another person emotionally, and I put a great amount of effort into making sure I communicate myself well so my words affect that individual exactly how I want them to. I recognize that not everyone is like me in that way. Most people speak out of emotion. It’s all very heat-of-the-moment. Things are often said that aren’t meant. Miscommunication happens. It only becomes worse as it becomes an insult battle between two grown ass adults. Destructive. Painful.
Lately I find myself severely anxious about marriage for this reason. I’m not even engaged yet, and I’m fearful. Despite my attempts to be rational in my relationship, I still live in fear of those moments. Of things becoming dysfunctional. Of things falling apart. Of deceptions and secrets knawing away at the beauty a relationship is. Yes, relationships are hard, but I often feel the relationships I see happening around me as impossible. At least, what people tell me makes marriage sound like some kind of imprisonment or trap. Like instead of being loved, I will feel more like I am owned. Belittled. Unimportant. Disrespected. I will be used up every day, and I will only be a resource.
Women are not the only ones to tell me these things. Though more often than not they are the ones who are aware there is a problem. Usually they keep their men in the dark. But, men feel these things as well. They feel unappreciated. Misunderstood. Confused and stretched thin. Anxious. They’re asked to lead, and then told their being bossy. They try to make good decisions but their partner is dissatisfied with a decision. “Guess what’s wrong games” are played out between the two. Pain is unspoken. Eventually they stop talking about important things. They stop compromising. They stop being involved in their relationship. They stop being in a relationship.
It’s terrifying, and who’s to say it won’t happen to me too?
What upsets me more is right after discouraging you to your very soul about it, people play damage control. They know they’ve emotionally unloaded on you, and want to half heartedly console you by telling you about the good things in marriage. Its nice to have someone there to hold. To help. To carry the weight of life with you. These words feel hollow though. It’s too late by then. The damage is done. Your heart aches and you want to retreat. To run away. To never love again.
But…you’re still in love.
My poor, but kind and thoughtful boyfriend often gets the brunt of these conversations. In my pain and emotional rationality I tell him my fears. I wonder if I should? I wonder if I’m damaging him when I tell him? But, I feel that if I don’t express the fear put in me it will consume me, and become a self fulfilling prophecy. Why shouldn’t he know? It directly impacts our relationship. To keep my feelings from him would be to exclude him from our relationship. To push him out of a powerful part of my life. To let those issues start. So I spill out my heart to him as tears make marks on the screen of my phone.
He is a candid and honest soul. He reminds me he can’t promise me everything. He too is imperfect. Yet, he affirms me. He reminds me I am imperfect and I cannot promise everything either: “I will promise you only one thing, and that is I will try. I will not lose you my love without a fight.”
My heart is comforted by those words. The fear is still present but over shadowed. I usually take a nap after we finish whispering our love to one another and hang up our phones. I slip into sleep hopeful that putting the concerns of my heart in his and God’s hands was the right thing. Hopeful that marriage will not be the end of me.