We finally pulled into our driveway at midnight last night after a week of celebrating my sister’s wedding. It was a beautiful, beautiful wedding. I’ve never seen a bride so happy before. Ginny looked gorgeous and everyone had a really great time. I’ll be posting a series of pictures this week from the wedding festivities, so be sure you check back for those. But today, I wanted to write about something that happened to Chris and me at Ginny’s wedding.
The past six months have been really hard for us as a family, but they have been even harder on us as a couple. The stress of deciding if we wanted to move to Florida, the anxiety of selling out house in Connecticut, the pressure of finding jobs, the weight of going from two incomes to no income for a while, the excitement of the move, the disappointment when we got here, the patience in waiting to buy a house, the loneliness of missing our friends, the happiness of finally being near family again, the struggle to make a new life here. It has been exhausting and terrifying and nervewracking beyond belief. We have never been through this much stress and pressure for this long of a period in our relationship before and it was wearing on us.
I’ve mentioned the tension in our marriage recently on the blog, but I don’t know if I did a really good job of describing how much of a change I have seen in Chris and I since we’ve moved. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to share that side of our relationship, but I think that even I couldn’t put what was happening to us in words. We were tense, yes. But there was a lot of anger between us. No mistake or misunderstanding went by in our house without the other pointing out the negative. We were quick to judge, quick to fight, and unlike any period of time in our relationship before, we weren’t making up. It wasn’t us having fights and then moving on. It became a pile of anger and frustration and tension that we were building on.
We’ve had good times, too, though. It hasn’t been all bad. We’ve had long talks and we’ve been working together on setting up our lives here. But we seemed to be best when we were dealing with anything else except each other. And for the first time, neither of us seemed to want to or know how to make any changes.
Looking back, I think all of those heavy emotions were not really because either of us was mad or frustrated at the other person. It was just being mad and frustrated with the whole moving situation and not having anyone else to blame or take it out on. The frustrations we have been going through are natural and normal and all are part of a major life change, but when you’re in the middle of that situation yourself, it is really hard to see that bigger picture. Its hard to see anything other than the frustration. And when there is only one other person who is going through the same exact thing as you, that’s the person who is left to deal with those emotions with you.
We had tried lots of things to get ourselves out of this. We tried going and going and going – a trip to Atlanta, days at my parent’s house, spending time alone, spending time alone together, dinner with friends, dinner without friends, date nights, day trips. And while all of those things were fun, Chris and I still walked into our house at the end of the day and barely saw each other.
I think that was the hardest part for me, personally. Chris stopped looking at me. It used to be that at any given point in a crowded room – or even just our house, for that matter – I could usually look up and find Chris smiling at me. Just a little “hello” in the middle of whatever chaos was going on. But its been a long time since I’ve had that happen. I’ve missed holding his hand when we grocery shop and quick kisses hello and goodbye as we come and go. Those little things were just the casualties of much bigger problems, I know. But they were significant to me and I felt their absence like an elephant on my chest.
But something happened at my sister’s wedding.
I was talking to someone and Chris came up, grabbed my hand, and pulled me onto the dance floor. This alone was surprising. Usually, I’m dragging Chris to dance with me. But as we were dancing, Chris whispered in my ear, “I really love you.” As awful as this is going to sound, it was the first unsolicited, un-obligated “I love you” that I have heard in a while. I mean, we said it when we went to bed every night and when we hung up the phone after talking and all those times when we were supposed to say it. But in the past couple months, that phrase that used to be tossed around in our marriage had slowly dried up and blown away. To hear it unexpectedly on that dance floor took my breath away.
With that little, stupid, insignificant dance, I felt the weight of the past six months lift off of me. And for the first time in a long time, Chris and I had a lot of fun. We danced, we drank, we danced, we laughed, we danced more, we flirted. And there wasn’t one time that I looked up that night that I didn’t find Chris smiling at me from somewhere in that room.
I know that we are only in the middle of this transition in our lives and that we have many more months of frustrations and anxiety ahead of us, but I feel like a page has been turned and that we are starting this next phase of the transition in a much better place. I guess my sister and John Michael had so much love on their wedding day that it poured out and helped fix my own marriage.
And I think that speaks volumes about the kind of marriage Ginny will have.