The first two or three months of marriage, I used to get furious at my mother for making a specific comment. She would always find an opportunity to tell me that I didn’t really know my husband yet.
Automatically, my reaction was defensive, “I know who I married Mom. Just because you don’t know him yet, doesn’t mean I don’t.” She would smile, shaking her heard slightly and respond, “Nia, you have no idea who you’ve married.” Often, she’d chuckle under her breath. Her smile and her glance made me feel foolish, and I was angry for that.
Now, I know better. There have been many a night where I have fallen asleep in tears, wondering just who it was that I had married. I’ve sat and pondered trying to understand my husband’s thought process for his actions and words. Don’t get it twisted – my husband is a stand-up man, and I am blessed to have him in my life. There is just so much about him that I did not know before we married, and vice versa. It was naïve for me to think that I knew the man I was marrying, yet it’s a common misconception that when mishandled, can lead to a lot of heartbreak.
What I have reminded myself is that love is a commitment – not an emotion. Feelings change. You may love your partner, but you may not always like them and you will certainly not always agree with their perspective or attitude. In fact, some of their outlooks or reactions may go beyond not being in line with your beliefs; they may even make you feel devalued and hurt.
On one occasion, Steven and I were arguing about something (as upset as I was, you would think I would remember what the argument was about but I really don’t.) His final response to me was something to the extent of, “Whatever, I don’t even care anymore,” leaving me crushed. Tears trickled down my face as we drove to church and when he asked why I was crying, I truly did not know how to express my feelings with words. He took my hand before we walked into church and told me how much he loved me, but my heart was still heavy.
During the service, the pastor said something that really helped me to identify and articulate what I was feeling. He said, “The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is apathy.” And there it was, I felt unloved during moments when my husband was apathetic towards me. I communicated that to him and he responded how my bad sense of timing could make him feel overwhelmed at times. We are working on it.
Marriage is a humbling experience, and unfortunately some people get stuck in that hurt silence without communicating and reflecting upon the issues that could tear apart a marriage. Conflict is inevitable and it will be at the heart of getting to know your spouse.
How well can you really know someone? Knowing someone is a culmination of shared experiences, of stumbling across mannerisms and quirks, of anticipating reactions or recognizing something as monumental where others might see it as inconsequential. It is being comfortable in silence. It is loving someone, in light of his or her flaws and imperfections. It is the intertwining of two separate lives until they can no longer be separated. Knowing someone takes years upon years of shared experience, disagreements, banter, discoveries, and reflections. I don’t know my husband yet, but I’m working towards knowing him a little better each day.