Sunday, April 27, 2014

Our Story: Marriage- The first six months

If you aren't married, you might feel like this post is a bit of a downer.  If you are married you'll understand the honesty of this post.

The first six months were NOT fun people.  Let me clarify, it was really the first four months that just plain stunk.  We had a lot of stuff against us, but thankfully we have our faith and moral commitments on our side. I'm not saying it was all bad.  But there were definitely more bad days than good days.  

Let me list the challenges of these first six months:

Challenge #1- Introvert vs. Extrovert
I (Jen) was working.  So I was gone all day long.
Conversely, Chile was not allowed to work.  So he was home all day long.  
Combine those two with our personalities- I'm an introvert (I promise I really am).  I have to leave the house all day.  So I get home and just want to stay, have some alone time, and then spend the rest of the evening with my husband in my house.  Chile is an extrovert.  But he couldn't leave the house because of challenge #2 (he didn't know how to drive and didn't have a license), and challenge #3 (he wasn't allowed to work). So when I got home he wanted to express all his extrovert-ness on me and he NEEDED to get out of the house and be social.  This caused many an argument.

Challenge #2: Driving
Chile had driven minimally in Cuba (think: less than 5 times).  And then imagine that your WIFE is the one who's teaching you how to drive.  And then remember the stress you caused your parents and the strain on the relationship as they taught you how to drive as a teenager.  And then seriously picture me teaching Chile how to drive in the fourth largest city in the U.S.  With lots of traffic.  And crazy drivers.   Y'ALL.  SO. MANY. STRESSFUL. TIMES. AND. ARGUMENTS.  Oh yeah, he also didn't know the city so I was the navigator.  But English is not his first language.  So there was confusion there with the verbal directions as well.  

I very vividly remember one Sunday when we were driving to church.  This was probably somewhere in month 3.  He misunderstood my directions and went the wrong way.  He almost got in an accident because of this.  He blamed me.  I blamed him.  We were both stressed and angry.  There were lots of tears.  I told him I didn't want to go to church.  He turned around and went back to the apartment.  I got out of the car.  He pulled out to drive to church on his own.  I was sobbing.  He wouldn't answer the phone.  It was a mess.  He came back.  We went to church.  I cried through the whole service.  I think I cried actually the whole rest of the day.  Words were said.  Words that involved how much easier it was to be single and how marriage wasn't any fun.  This was a real low.  

Thankfully, This was all part of the healing and growing together.  Chile likes to tell people about the Hebrew definition of the word "day".  In ancient Hebrew culture, the new day starts with the sun setting.  This means that the cycle of a day begins with the night.  After the night, the sun rises and you have your daytime.  He talks about how the Hebrew people used this as a comparison for life, and how God intended the cycle of our lives to be.  You see- the "day" begins with the "night"- AND it's all part of the process.  You have to go through the night to get to the day.  This was certainly what was going on in our household.  We were learning about ourselves and one another.  The other side of this is that it provides optimism because the day always comes.  And when the day comes you can see what you were unable to see during the night.  This is one explanation of Psalm 30:5b: Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. The thought is that the cycle is the revelation of the will of God- the day is when God shows what had been "hidden" before (the night)- what you were unable to see in the struggle.  

Y'all- it WAS (in those days) easier to be single.  That's because ALL those things you avoid when you're single and ignore- the problems you are totally aware that you have but also completely pretend you don't have- those problems suddenly come to light.  Sometimes it's intentional, sometimes it's just because you have another person living in such close positioning to yourself.  But you can no longer ignore those things.  You have to accept them or fix them.  You have to bring them to light.  You have to see yourself for who you truly are-- and it's all the fault of that other person in your marriage.  Without them you could go back to your happy, deceptive oblivion.  So it's HARD.  It's hard not to blame them, because let's face it- IT'S THEIR FAULT YOU'RE DEALING WITH ALL THIS.  

Now we're a whole year removed from all of this.  And I'm SO grateful for the night that led to the day.  It was so necessary.  But going through it was hard.  

Challenge #3: The need to provide
I'm sure you are all aware of that innate thing in a man that drives him to provide for his family.  It's such a good quality from the Lord, but such a challenge when you have no choice but to reverse the roles.  For them (or at least Chile), it doesn't matter if the wife is working and providing plenty.  It matters if he is capable and accomplishing the task of providing for his wife (and children if there are any).  But until March, Chile was not allowed to work.  We had to do the change of status with immigration and wait for them to approve his work permit.  So he had to sit at home and wait.  I don't need to detail this struggle, but it was just an added challenge in the first six months of our marriage.  

We are so very grateful to the Lord for providing the work permit and a job that allows Chile to provide for our family.  Even that was a difficult thing as Chile's degree is worthless in America.  But instead of just accepting that and working as a cashier or dishwasher, Chile worked hard.  He learned a new career.  He learned how to sell cars, IN ENGLISH, with technology he had no idea existed.  And y'all, he's good at it.  I'm so proud of him.  

I'm not going to say that after six months our challenges just melted away.  But I will say, there was a moment somewhere in month 4, that we looked at each other and realized we'd gone a whole week without fighting.  And then the space gradually widened and we learned that we were both growing and changing.  We were figuring each other out, and we were figuring out who we were now as married people.  We learned how to balance our personalities, Chile became a (pretty) good driver, and was able to get a job.  Life got a whole lot better slowly, gradually, and almost without notice.  We still have our days, our moments.  But I'm so grateful for the first six months, because they've made this next year so much better.  For our six month anniversary Chile took me to a super nice restaurant in Houston.  It was not only our 6 month anniversary, but the next day was also my birthday.  We celebrated being together, all the good things God had done for us, and SURVIVING.  And we were happy.