Oh yes, I did.
I said it. Someone had to.
I’ve been married for a short three months and some change, and I don’t have enough phalanges three times over to count how many times folks have asked me, “Shouldn’t you be in the honeymoon phase?”
I’d like to know who wrote the marriage policy handbook, and where I can get one, because I sure as heck have never seen this policy labeled anywhere in stone.
Clearly, we love each other. Why else would we promise to spend our lives living with one another? Meshing two completely opposite cultures, languages, food preferences, folkloric remedies, favorite music, and polar opposite even in weather. Upper Michigan versus southern Mexico? It takes time.
I’m an only child, but I had roommates for 14 years before I was married, so I knew what living with another human being outside of my family meant, though it doesn’t have a lot to do with providing for someone. (I have to argue that I’m a really awesome roommate, and I was often the wife in my roommate marriages.)
Every day at work for the first month after we got back from our honeymoon, I was asked, “So, how is married life?” (I’m still asked that, but it’s also accompanied with prying questions about the very personal decision of when we plan to have children.)
My response was probably not an expected one.
“Oh…it’s an adjustment.”
The response usually merited a look of horror, followed by the cliche statement any newlywed can expect.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in the Honeymoon Phase?!”
Maybe it’s just because I was 32 when we married (and he was 34) and joining lives can be different at different ages, but having now lived through it, I believe that the Honeymoon Phase is a myth.
The honeymoon itself is a week or two of “bliss” when the stress of the wedding – no matter how small yours is – and the whirlwind dust and funk from juggling work, sleep, details, visitors, moving, gifts, and keeping everyone happy all finally settle down. Although a road trip to Seattle(ish) and Portland, ours was mostly spent sleeping at rest areas, finishing homework at McDonald’s with hot chocolate at 1 am for the free WiFi, my husband peeing in a lot of public places, and us learning about each other’s “isms” and our own personal expectations of a honeymoon and marriage in a baptism-by-fire way.
Many have the preconceived notion of a blushing virgin bride being swept over the threshold by her brawny groom, and an incredible night of their first love making and holding one another. My husband and I, due to an unfortunate turn of events, were separated after our wedding photos and were not reunited until about 11pm, where I was welcomed home by the sound and smell of pozole boiling in the kitchen, the sight of him coming in to embrace me with a sweaty hug and his white dress shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows (he was helping his mother prepare food for our reception the next day). Around midnight we drove the half hour to Park City where we dragged our overnight bag to our hotel room, smiled shyly and tiredly at one another, and snuggled up, undoubtedly snoring through the night.
In our first month and a half of marriage, we fought a lot (we had never fought too much before). A lot. The words “pride”, “divorce”, “just friends”, “stubborn”, “I’m sorry”, “I love you”, and “kiss me” flew through the air in both English and Spanish on more than one occasion. I struggled. I was unsure I made the right decision and I imagined my life back to being single. I didn’t know if I was willing to put up with the chaos of it. We both were trying to grasp our footing of how to be married and who we were as an individual with one another.
If you’re a newlywed, engaged, or really looking forward to marriage, allow me to share my two cents. Be kind to yourself and one another. Be understanding. And do not be afraid to communicate. Communication is your number one tool with one another! You will disagree on things and you will go crazy when he leaves his clothes, belts, shoes in the living room, splashes water all over the bathroom, and never wipes up the kitchen counters. (Likewise, he will feel the same about you.) You will want to turn sarcastic and cynical. This is totally normal and I’m convinced is human nature and a requisite building block in love. This is especially true the older you are and the more accustomed you are to being single and completely independent. It’s okay to feel emotions other than smitten honeymoon phase love. Just as a parent may not be happy with their child but still love them, so will you be with your spouse.
The Honeymoon Phase is a myth. The reason your friends and family will tell you how cute and lovey-dovey you are in your Facebook pictures and accuse you of being in a Honeymoon Phase is because you are so overly nice to your spouse in order to avoid killing each other when blending your completely separate ways of living. Let me repeat that:
The Honeymoon Phase is a myth. I’m convinced that the real definition behind the mythical Honeymoon Phase is that you are so overwhelmed trying to adjust to marriage that you show each other love in sickeningly sweet ways so as not to kill one another when when sharing a space and blending your completely separate ways of living.
That being said, marriage is so sweet. With time, you understand how one another communicates and slowly learn to be sensitive to one another’s perceptions and needs. Like I said, I’ve only got three months under my belt (and haven’t even known my husband for a year yet!), but I know that my parents are still learning and practicing this after almost 34 years of marriage. I see how my husband and I adjust to one another and drop our pride and stubbornness and choose to move forward, only staying on an issue when it matters. We have learned the importance of making sure we have at least just a few minutes of affection each day (snuggling up watching an episode of “The Walking Dead” – we’re romantics, kissing each other before we leave the house, when we arrive at home, when we arrive in or leave the car) and of saying we love each other as much as we can. This has made an absolute huge difference in our marriage. Where I once was unsure if I loved him the way I do now, all of our miscommunications, sorrows, and joys, and proclaiming love for one another have mended me to whole and brought our relationship to a beautiful place.
The Honeymoon Phase is a myth. But a beautiful marriage isn’t.