By: Alyssa Gagnon, Regular Contributor
Marriage is hard work, they said. Marriage takes a lot of work, they said. I know this, and you do too, because we’ve only heard it from every adult ever from the time we knew what “marriage” was.
So when I discovered that’d I’d actually have to put work into my marriage, I was not shocked. I was and am shocked by how quickly the “work” came. I don’t know if I am simply in a personal “rough patch,” or if there are outside pressures that need to be dealt with, but I do know that in the past weeks, just over a month into my marriage, I find myself treating my husband with annoyance and sometimes something akin to disdain.
It’s incredibly difficult to see these words and know how they apply to me. I hate that I have been treating the one person who has chosen to love me, and whom I have promised to love and cherish, with involuntary meanness. I never thought I’d be the kind of person whose autopilot was negative and selfish, but right now, I am, and it’s time to shake this terrible attitude.
As upsetting as this realization is, it also holds the key for me to begin to make things better. I shouldn’t be reverting to my “autopilot” when it comes to loving my husband. Love is a choice that we must make every minute of every day. Love is intentional, and I simply haven’t been putting the work in. Love has not been my priority.
When I talk about love, I mean “love” in every sense of the word. I haven’t been especially loving to myself; I have been selfish in my relationships; I have neglected the things and people I know nurture me in favor of more immediate and fleeting rewards. So apparently, it’s not just marriage, but love itself that is hard work. We all have to check in sometimes with ourselves and others to make sure that we’re putting in the legwork. Is it the legwork that you need right now? Are you working on the most important part of your “love house”—your body, your soul, and your everyday experience?
To turn this around, I am reverting to a method that is tried and true for me. I’ve been in this situation before, remember? I know that to pull myself out of this hole, I need to consciously work on cultivating love everywhere. My datebook now has items like “wake up early to walk at the lake with Jamie!” and “Plan a date with Travis!” and “Eat well today—it will make you feel good from the inside out!” and even “Get to bed early tonight; you’ve got a big day tomorrow!” As silly as it feels to recount this publicly, scheduling love and happiness into my day is the best way I know how to make it happen. Love is a choice, and when I schedule these things, I am making the choice twice, gaining momentum and continually reminding myself to smile, to relax, and to cultivate love.
When you find yourself a little less than loving, give Alyssa's scheduling exercise a try. When you make a date to connect with yourself through people and things that fuel you, you're more likely to follow through!
Alyssa grew up on a diet of grilled cheese, books, and ice cream with books predominating. She recently graduated with a Master’s degree in English and lives in her favorite place with her favorite husband (she only has one). Post-graduation, her plans are to start a new women’s magazine that leaves women feeling GREAT about who they are, and to open a publishing house for untapped talent.
image via smh.com.au