The love that was missing from my marriage

I don’t know if it was because of my unrealistic expectations on marriage or the hundreds of romantic comedies I’d watched in the quarter of a century I lived before marriage, but I wasn’t prepared to be a wife. I wasn’t prepared for marriage.

Not the romantic, annoying, yucky love stuff. I was pretty good at that, as evidenced by my social media. I’m still sorry for every obnoxious selfie Eric and I shared for the first two years of our marriage. I’m still just as obsessed with my husband and now we’ve added two babes to the mix who are squishy, sassy bundles of pure joy.

IMG_0001

I love my family. I love my marriage. I love my life.

What was missing from the equation for quite a while was a love for myself.

Specifically, in my new role as a wife and later, a mother.

It was like being doused with a bucket of cold water the other day when I came across a friend’s Instagram post. Sonja was married a little under a year ago, and posted some raw thoughts on how she had felt so lost since being married. Of course she was happy, ridiculously so, but still, something was off.

I felt every word that she wrote so deeply. I too struggled with depression after getting married. Even more so when I was pregnant and after the birth of both of my babies.

It’s hard. Change in any form is hard.

I spent years, 25 to be exact, trying to figure out who the heck I was. I spent thousands of dollars on schooling. I invested countless hours in creating a social scene and a niche in that scene. I made friends who shaped my interests and personality. I spent 18 months serving a mission, carving out yet another piece of myself. I developed hobbies and passions, including my beloved blog.

Then poof.

Suddenly, all of that was put on hold for a minute and my sole focus was on this amazing man who had waltzed into my life. I’m not ashamed of my tunnel vision. I was in love. It happens.

While we were dating I was swept away in the fantasy of it all. It was a magical, nearly perfect time of life for me.

IMG_0185

When the fairy dust settled after our wedding and honeymoon — spoiler alert — life kept happening. And suddenly, I had to try to make pieces of my old life, my old self, fit into this new life. It was awkward to say the least. My husband was amazing in every way. I just felt…off.

Eric worked two jobs, often late into the night. I was working as a writer for the Deseret News. I enjoyed my work. I loved seeing Eric when I could. We had lots of Harry Potter marathons and went out to eat often so I could avoid cooking us dinner at 11 pm.

I was happy, but…

There was always that big, fat, bootylicious BUT in the back of my mind.

I felt like I was out of place in my own life. It was awful. And no one prepared me for it.

I struggled like this for quite awhile. Hindsight has given me the words. But during the thick of it all, it just felt uncomfortable. Like I was lost, but didn’t know what I was really looking for.

I’ve learned since then; I was looking for myself. At least a familiar version of her.

Because you see, I had it all wrong.

I learned at an early age that you are responsible for your own happiness. Rather than placing a deadline on your happiness, like “I’ll be happy when I graduate,” or “I could be happy if I just had a boyfriend,” I always tried to be happy exactly as I was.

What that gave me was a lot of time to develop things I loved about myself.

grad

I value my education deeply. I became a journalist after college and worked for a few different newspapers. I blogged, and wrote columns for a local news organization. I now teach journalism at BYU-Idaho.

mission

I valued my mission. It taught me a love of people, a love of teaching and an unshakable faith in and love of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

School, friends, hobbies, mission, everything I had filled my life with before marriage and motherhood had made me who I was. I knew that God had directed me to all of those things before I married Eric and before Bellamy and Lincoln came along.

One day, during a total emotional breakdown about motherhood, the Spirit taught me a very important lesson.

IMG_0003

If God had led me to all of these wonderful things, my education, my career, my blog, my hobbies, it was for a purpose. And that purpose didn’t suddenly evaporate once I became a wife and mother.

All of those things about me were a part of me, and still needed to be a part of me.

Rather than creating a new version of myself, this revelation allowed me to rise from the ashes of my single life, a better, more complete version of myself. It helped me to love myself.

Instead of dropping everything I loved outside of my family to support a husband and raise children, I could use everything that I had developed in myself FOR my family. I didn’t suddenly stop being me and loving the things I loved.

It helped me to understand God’s plan for my life a bit more. I knew that as a mother I could teach my children the importance of education by continuing my own. I could teach them the value of work by balancing a job along with my motherhood. I could teach them the truths of our faith as I strive to live them each day.

My past is what will make me a better wife, a better mother. My past is what has led me to my family now. I can’t simply abandon it.

Back to my friend Sonja. She gave some wise advice about redefining her life. She’s absolutely right. I find that I am still redefining my life as I cling gratefully to the best parts of my past that has given me such a wonderful present.

Now I know that everyone’s path is different. So please, don’t compare yours to mine. Instead, be you unapologetically. You are what your family needs. You are what your children need. Become the best version of yourself.

Because you deserve the best.

Check out Sonja’s blog, The Joubert Den, where she blogs about life, marriage, faith and fashion.

Advertisements

Arrows out: a birthday wish

Today is my 29th birthday. As I have reflected on my 20s these past couple days I’ve been filled with so much gratitude. The last 10 years of my life have been filled with many changes and life-altering decisions. Your 20s are often referred to as the “decade of decisions,” to which I shout a resounding AMEN.

img_3860

Eight years ago I was living in Orlando and heard Elder Jeffery R. Holland, an apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, give an inspired talk. I sat on the stage in the very back of a very crowded church building. I could barely see him standing at the podium. But his words pierced me to my heart. He spoke about service and compared it to a tithe on our lives. If we lived to the age of 100, he said, that meant 10 years were dedicated in service to the Lord.

Continue reading “Arrows out: a birthday wish”

4 things I learned about revelation while desperately seeking it

It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve laughed until I’ve cried and cried until I’ve laughed. It’s been wrenchingly emotional and highly stressful.

But as my good husband has recently reminded me, that’s just how I operate. I always have a million irons that I’ve happily thrown into the fire, and some nights (normally Thursdays) it comes out in break-down form.

What I’ve learned all these years of being an over-involved-over-acheiver, is that well, I’m still learning. A LOT.

Luckily, I have the best network of people surrounding me and cheering me on, including God. This week, as my stress level hit critical mass, I decided to seek refuge in the temple. I had lots of questions, and I just knew God would answer all of them. Why? Because I desperately needed answer. I had tried everything on my own, and now was begging for help from on high.

But that’s not how it works. At least it wasn’t for me this week. Instead of having a steady stream of blue-print like instructions from the Lord outlining my path, I received something else entirely. Continue reading “4 things I learned about revelation while desperately seeking it”

Looking for the light

I woke up to the hurried unzipping noise of our tent flap and knew in an instant that something wasn’t right.

“There’s been a disaster, girls. We need to get to the base of camp with the rest of the group.”

I felt fear. A lot of it.

Though it was pitch black, I knew it was a clear night.

The air was still, but there was a terrible howling noise coming from the amphitheater of our campsite.

It was coming from the loudspeakers. Continue reading “Looking for the light”