I took Marriage Prep when I was a freshman in college.
We sat in a room together on the first day. Forty girls. Pencils poised. Barren ring fingers on most of our left hands. Pure attentiveness on our teacher. And completely ready to note-take ourselves into the most perfect and prepared little wives we could be. And then our teacher told us,
"When you get married, you are on drugs."
And then she taught us lots and lots of other things. For the entire rest of the semester. Some happy, some dream-killer-ish but mostly all hopeful and very very enlightening. I don't know where my notes are. I don't remember 95% of what we learned. But I remember some things. And I find them extremely extremely relevant. Who knew that a tiny percentage of my country-song-listening-to self would turn into kind of a realist? (hi grandma! Are you proud?!)
This is what I remember:
1. A survey was conducted at BYU Provo. Students were asked to rate their marriage from a 1-4. One being completely unfulfilled and four being totally fulfilled. A huge majority of the married-students rated their marriage at a one. A ONE. I don't remember what percentage. I want to say it was like 80%. That's what I am remembering. I am not kidding. But for sure it was over 75.
2. We are taught to believe that "love" is a state at which we arrive. When actually, it is developmental. It grows, it builds, etc. etc. etc.
3. Marriage takes lots of work. It's the hardest and most fulfilling thing. (Which to me, back then, was like duh. But now I understand. I mean, it does take work.
4. My teacher told us a personal story. She was young, met a great guy at school, got engaged and got married. For some reason, when all the excitement and "drugs" (hormones) wore off, she just felt completely stuck in her marriage. I really think "stuck" or "trapped" was a word that she used. She said she used to lay in bed thinking of a way to escape and that it was an extremely difficult time in her life. And it lasted a while. But then they got through it. She worked on it, he worked on it. They grew. They developed. And during that semester when I was in her class, her husband actually walked into the room while she was teaching (because he was leaving for a trip) and he kissed her goodbye and she blushed and she was completely glowing. And she told us that she felt completely fulfilled in her marriage. It had just taken developing. It was the best.
I came into my marriage with lots of expectations. Not like McKay, I expect you to pick up your dirty underwear every morning. But more like Gosh, I really hope he dances with me in the kitchen and wakes me up just to tell me how beautiful I am. But then I found out that I married a guy who feels kind of awkward dancing to country in the kitchen. And I married someone who thought the song "Austin" by Blake Shelton was about a gay guy. And I married a person who always falls asleep before me.
But, in my two and a half years of marriage I have never been so happy. I have never been so challenged. Or humbled. Or self-addmitedly wrong. Or stable. Or I think, loved. Because McKay really loves me a lot and this is how I know:
The other night, we had one of those talks again. It might be just us, but they always start with me being whiny for two days and McKay being annoyed with me for two days. And then finally, we sit in our room or on our couch and we have the talk. We "don't feel close." We "don't feel like a team." We "don't have that 'feeling." So we have to talk. Probably for three to four hours. It's very horrible at first. And McKay stays up really late even though he has work in the morning. (clue #1 he loves me)
This time, we sat on our bedroom floor. I sat by our bathroom door, and he sat by the window. We started the talk. And we threw everything out there-
Me: I don't feel like you have a crush on me anymore. You need to be more romantic. You seem like you are always tired. I am sick of your iPhone. We need to go on dates. I get clingy when I miss you. I know you love me, but are you still "in love?" Do you know what I mean?
McKay: I am exhausted. I am doing too much. I just tune out when I get home. We do need to go on dates. I told you looked pretty before church, don't you remember? I know what you mean.
So then we talked, and thought, and talked, and thought. For a long, long time.
And then McKay said, I know this might be awkward, but I have an idea. We should hug. (clue #2)
And then I said no.
But then we did it anyways, and it was kind of awkward.
But then we laughed, and we got to the okay, I will work on... stuff. And then McKay said some jokes. And we laughd and got in bed and cuddled and fell asleep.
The next day we were really tired, but really happy. And now I am working on being less of a nag, and more attentive. McKay is working on being less blunt.
And today when he got home from work,
he danced with me in the kitchen. (clue #3)
I'm 23. He's 25. We've been married for 2.5 years. I think he's too honest sometimes. He thinks I can be a huge brat. But he lets me put my cold feet on him every night. He is the best dad I could have ever wished for for Jax. He does the dishes sometimes on his lunchbreak. He folds piles of laundry because I hate it. He is forcing himself to like Country. He rubs my feet when we're on the couch. He watches chick flicks with me. He makes me laugh when I am sad. He checks the house when I hear a noise. He paints my toes when I am pregnant. He lets me buy clothes I don't need. He supports me in everything I do. He doesn't get mad when I make a mistake. He kisses me before work. He takes all my pointless fashion blog pictures. He knows the details of my life. He writes me little notes. He lets me sleep in on weekends. And he falls asleep every night on our couch, trying to stay up with me. Which he never does.
And to me, all of that is a real marriage. A marriage not on drugs.