Oldman and I were scheduled to go to the beach on Saturday. We rented a beach house with a bunch of friends in the Outer Banks, and planned to leave from Spartanburg, South Carolina, where we had been visiting a friend, very early Saturday morning. The goal was to be at the beach by noon at the latest.
Friday night, we had a fight. It started as a slow, simmering fight that I thought might blow over. It didn't. It lasted through the night and into Saturday. It became a big blowout fight and there were tears and yelling and all that goes along with a good ol' fashioned fight. Ugh. It was exhausting.
We did not leave for the beach early Saturday morning as planned. We did not even leave Saturday afternoon. We left at 6pm, which got us to the beach at 2am. Everyone else had already been there all day, eating and beaching and doing fun things, and now they were asleep. I noticed shame about Oldman and I coming so late. I worried that they were all judging us for it. This felt like a heavy pressure on my chest.
The next morning (Sunday), I awoke and instantly remembered the shame and felt the heavy pressure on my chest. I heard everyone else moving about the house, eating, talking about their plans for the day. I did not emerge from our room because I didn't want anyone to see that I had been crying. I did not want anyone to know that Oldman and I were fighting, and that we were not the perfect, happy, newlywed couple. So I stayed in my cave, buried in a self-created cave of shame and despair. Gross.
Finally, around 4pm, I was pretty hungry. Oldman and I had FINALLY gotten to a point of peace, and I was ready to emerge and participate in the world again. But what to do about this shame?
"Do you want to go get something to eat?" I ask Oldman.
"Nah. I just ate. Why don't you see if someone else wants to go with you? Meet everyone." These were actually all his friends, only one of whom I had ever met before.
"I can't!" I gasp.
"Why not?" He puts down the game he is playing on his iPhone and looks at me quizzically.
"Because I hate being the spokesperson for us. I don't want to make up some story about why we got here so late and why we've been in the room all day and why I have huge, post-crying bags under my eyes." Duh.
"Soooo, just tell them the truth." My jaw drops at this suggestion. "If anyone asks, just say, 'dude we had a big fight. Marriage sucks. It's hard.'"
"I guess I could say that. But it's their vacation. I don't want to ruin it with talking about our fight and our marriage problems and blah blah blah."
"Do you think we're the only couple who fights?" he responded. "There are three other couples here, two of which are married. They don't give a shit about whether we fought or not. They'll probably agree with you about how hard marriage is."
I felt the clouds part and the sunshine come through again. I had no idea how much extra suffering I had been creating by worrying about what everyone else was thinking. In truth, I was over the content of our argument hours and hours ago. Most of my suffering was around my unnecessary and unhelpful shame.
"Yes!" I exclaim. "I'm just going to say we had a fight and how hard marriage is!" I am laughing now. "Marriage sucks! This is so hard!" I'm almost yelling, and now Oldman is laughing at me too.
"This is the hardest thing I've ever done!" Oldman responds, also shouting.
"Marriage sucks!" we say together and collapse onto the bed with laughter and a lightness that has felt miles away for the past two days.
So here is my public confession:
Sometimes marriage is wonderful. Sometimes it is very hard. Sometimes I am happy all day. Sometimes I cry all day. Sometimes I have no idea what to do. Sometimes I know exactly what to do. I'm pretty sure this doesn't make me crazy. I think it just makes me human.