Monday, January 19, 2009

The Opposite of Alone is Together

While discussing current trends in views of marriage, my husband said something that I rather liked. He said that "marriage is not supposed to be like a trip to disneyland". This came as we talked about the many discouraging attitudes that people have towards getting married and having children.
It is common thinking that marriage is supposed to be a union fraught with ultimate happiness and joy. Fighting is not going to happen and, if it does, the marriage is bound to end. Plus, if you add children to the mix marital satisfaction will significantly drop down.
However, I have a particular professor has researched marital satisifaction much in his career. As he puts it, marriage satisfaction dips a little bit after children come as couples come off the honeymoon high and enter into reality. Marriage is a little bit more work than expected.
B. and I decided to start our family-after much thought and prayer-sooner than later. The craziness of our plan was that we were and are both finishing school and still quite young. Questions arose (in our heads but mostly voiced by others), are you going to finish school? How are you going to pay for baby costs? How are you going to care for the baby while going to school, is someone going to watch her for you? And on and on they went.
Of course, these questions peppered our minds and our conversations as well, but we had something besides Babylon's opinions pulling us toward our destination. This little something is called faith. I had no idea how some things were going to work. We had carefully planned out my class schedule in order for it not to coincide with B.'s class schedule so that he could watch the Girl, but we did not know if everything was going to go as planned. The fact is, they didn't. School began and we realized that we hadn't really planned for ways that I might get homework and other essential items done. We also hadn't planned for times when B. would need to go to a lecture or some other thing while I was in class. As the demands came we found ways to make it all work. The faith that orginally guided us continued to pull us along. Through pray, fasting, and daily scripture study, we found solutions to our problems in many creative avenues. There were, and still are, days when we struggle and realize that we have reached our threshold for stress; and yet we are still able to continue. The monumental aspect of our meeting the different challenges is through not looking back and regretting our decision.
As to the aspect of marriage, well the only way for marriage to get better is to continue on through the bumps. In fact, in many of my classes it has been emphasized that those marriages that have been reported as "the best" are those that struggle through the hard times. As the Girl entered our lives, conflict increased. This increase was followed by more and more positive changes and striving to find increased ways of servind each other. With each conflict and resolution, our marital satisfaction has increased. When asked about how we feel our marriage has gone since the Girl has entered, both of us respond that it has definitely become wonderful.
We feel remarkably blessed in the many ways that God has, and still does, helped us as we continue to figure out how to strengthen our marriage while struggling through school and parenting. We are so glad that we decided not to wait until some future time (when we had enough money, when we were more settled, when the stars aligned, when China became a free country) for our little angel to grace us with her presence. In fact, we are excited that we are going to continue to add to our family because we have never felt stronger individually and as a couple as we do now. (Of course other considerations are in place, like my bodily health through pregnancy and where we are in our schooling, as we decide the spacing of our little ones.)
I am glad that marriage is not like a trip to Disneyland, it would be completely boring if it was. All the bumps and trials that accompany adding children (for us) and the other struggles (for everybody) to marriage are what really make it worthwhile.

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