Marriage can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be tough at the same time. But one of the best things about marriage is that over time it will teach you how to fight.
I met him in our college Spanish course. After admiring him from a distance for a year, we began a hot relationship. I was crazy about him. Our relationship was stormy. Until she wasn’t anymore. At some point the passion was gone.
We lived together, built a house, and made plans. Three years together and talk about a future, but I knew it wasn’t going to work.
I tried to save us. I tried it for well over a year. He was pleasantly indifferent.
Eventually I was done.
He called. He wrote me. He begged me to give him another chance. He promised to make changes. Things that I had begged for, he now promised to deliver.
It didn’t matter anymore.
I was ready.
That’s how it works. You try. You fight You fight for your relationship.
Until you are exhausted and tired from all the efforts. Until you realize that you’re the only one trying hard.
It is this cold realization that is the nail in the coffin of a relationship. The loneliness that comes with scratching and stealing after love … and when you look around and find that nobody else gets their hands dirty. The hard loneliness of sharing space with someone.
That was a long time ago. Shortly after that relationship ended, I fell in love with my husband. I was shy of guns and not looking for romance. I tried to talk myself out of it. I told him I was scared. I told him I needed more than he could give me. I couldn’t live a life of complacency.
I told him that I get bored easily.
He promised that our life would never be boring.
I told him I need passion. I needed fire.
He promised a life full of passion.
I told him I needed someone who wouldn’t give up anytime soon.
He promised me that he would fight for me. For us.
That was over 18 years ago. In front of three houses, three children, three dogs. It was a whole life ago.
It wasn’t always easy. Sometimes it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Difficult because we all have something, something that burdens us. Something that lives deep within us and comes out sideways.
Difficult because we’re all pretty chaotic inside. Difficult because all of the things we all carry around are forced to mix with all the clutter of this person with whom you share a life. And they collide and they feed each other and they confuse each other. And sometimes they hurt each other.
So what are you doing with all of this?
You start a fight.
You start a fight with yourself. For yourself.
The fight you choose is the fight to become a better you. You trudge into the stagnant water of long held pain and harm. You wade into the dirt and start cleaning it up. You fight your way through all of the barriers and defenses that we all cling to like a tattered blanket of comfort. You get dirty and you fight.
You fight your way through all of this because it’s the only fight you can really win. You can’t fight for him. It’s not about fixing it. If it were, there would be no breakups. There would be no divorce. The idea of fixing the person you love fighting his struggles? It’s just a fantasy.
His problems are his. They are carried by other things than yours. You can try to fix it, but it will be fruitless. You can try to fix someone else your entire life. Focus on her and all of her things. It won’t get you very far, I promise. It’s a twisted road to bitterness and disappointment.
But you can fight for yourself. You can work your way through all of your stuff. Know it. Deal with it. Learn from her.
This can give you some peace and strength . It can stop the cycle in which your stuff feeds its stuff and the chaos of emotions that comes with it. It can give him enough space and space to see that something has changed and that he maybe, maybe, can start to deal with his stuff.
Anyway, you fight for yourself.
I’ve accepted this fight for the past few years. It was scary and tough and at times I was close to giving up. But now I’m starting to see what comes after the fight. Some peace. Some healing. The burden of all of my things is much lighter and I feel freer. I am not so complained anymore. I am no longer so confused about my feelings. The other side of fighting with myself is a good place to be.
My husband also accepted his fight. He has gone into the depths of what burns deep within him. He’s never been one to be complacent or apathetic. Eighteen years and it was never boring. I’ve seen how he refused to give up and how he refused to let me fight as the only one.
I think back to the day years ago now. The day I tearfully told the man I loved what I needed. What I thought it was impossible for someone to give. The day I thought I should give up on love because my expectations were too high and unattainable.
He didn’t try to change my mind or my expectations.
He accepted the challenge and needs of a naive young woman who thought she knew what she needed.
I never needed him to fight for us.
But he gave me things I didn’t know I needed. He did more than share the room with me.
He didn’t just sit and watch me fight my fights. He listened. He supported. He loved. And when I wanted to give up my demons? Did he start fighting his. He showed me that vulnerability is the bravest place. He got his hands dirty on me. By fighting for himself, he showed me how much he loved me. How far he would go to be better for us
I didn’t need him to fight for us.
I needed him to make his own fight.
I didn’t need him to fight for me.
I never needed him to fight for me.
I am able to do this for myself.
I can fight my own battles.