Perfectly Imperfect: After The Honeymoon Ends

Perfectly Imperfect: After The Honeymoon Ends July 17, 2013

It didn’t hit me on our wedding day. Not when I hurriedly wrote my vows that morning, or when I slipped my dress on, or when I saw him for the first time. Not even when we had our first kiss as man and wife, or when we scampered up the mountain together and laughed as a thunderstorm threatened to drown out our joy.

It didn’t hit me as we flew to Mexico for our much-anticipated honeymoon, or when we sipped our fourth Mai Tai admiring the Caribbean, or even when we finally arrived back home in Seattle two weeks after we said I Do.

When normal life hit, we thought we were well prepared for that infamous first hard year of marriage. Since we were spared the distractions of planning a huge wedding, Nick and I were able to spend our five-month engagement getting to know one another deeper, traveling together, and going through marriage books and rigorous pre-marital counseling. We asked every single married couple we came across “What advice can you give us?” We wanted to be as prepared as we possibly could.

Exactly three weeks after I shed tears of ecstatic joy on my wedding day, soaking up every moment and living in the romance, our wedding video was released. We had hired our good friend Janssen to follow us around as we climbed up and down a mountain on our big day, and he did an absolutely incredible job with the video.

Nick • Laura- Wedding Film 2013 from Janssen Powers on Vimeo.

I sat in my living room and watched it over and over, like any bride does, but the expected tears didn’t come. Instead, I stared in complete disbelief as I watched myself get married. Finally, the truth hit me like a ton of bricks in the face:

I am a wife now, a Mrs. I made a commitment that I will forever uphold because I have to. What a sobering and rather unromantic thought.

It’s weird that the reality of marriage didn’t hit me until I watched our wedding video, but for some reason that’s when it sunk. Something shifted deep inside me that day. All of a sudden I wasn’t sure if I liked the idea of losing my identity. Loving unconditionally, despite my mood swings and, dare I say it, emotions. I don’t mean that I wanted to give up on marriage or leave Nick – very little of this had anything to do with him. I was fighting myself, both running towards Jesus and away. I still wanted to be Laura Lawson with all the best perks of being Laura Visconti. I was losing my past identity and losing it fast. I felt pinned down, forcing myself to say and do the right things, but inwardly rebelling against all of it. I didn’t want to be led spiritually; hadn’t I done a decently good job of that my whole life without another man constantly suggesting we pray together?

I was beginning to truly understand what it means when Scripture says we need to die to ourselves daily, and I wasn’t sure I liked it.

To be honest with you, I don’t think I’ve ever made a commitment before and stuck with it. Sure I’ve had jobs that have lasted a year or two, but never a true, lifelong commitment (other than a handful of tattoos). Rooted in all my new uncertainty and bouts of rebellion was a lot of fear. Who am I now? Will I be a bad wife? Why was this all so hard for me and seemingly so easy for Nick? I Googled countless articles about postnuptual depression (yes, that’s a thing) but that didn’t seem to be it. Blaming it on spiritual oppression made me feel a little better, but didn’t actually change anything. The power to lay myself down and simply love no matter what was 100% in my hands, and 100% more difficult than I ever could have possibly imagined.

More than anything, I’m learning I am incredibly, unabashedly, shamelessly selfish.

Marriage exposes you to yourself. You have this person (this flawed person might I add) always around who brings out both the absolute best and the absolute worst in you. You have to learn to apologize without pointing out how they were also partially wrong, an almost impossible feat for me. You learn you are more flawed than you ever thought possible. Little, tiny secrets that were previously all too easy to conceal get pushed into the limelight. Thought patterns have to change. Motivations get exposed. Hell, your very selfishness has to be shed and fast, otherwise you’re going to hurt the person you love the most over and over and over.

After awhile, I got sick of hearing myself apologize for the same things time and time again. Nick’s patience was tested more than it needed to be – have I mentioned how great he is? He loved me through my difficult transition. He loved me when I needed it most, and when I was most unlovable.

Marriage is simultaneously extremely difficult and extremely amazing. I highly recommend it.

The answer to all of this is Jesus, of course. It took a couple weeks of kicking and screaming for me to come around, but I began to realize it’s a choice. To follow Jesus is to truly make your life about other people, most importantly your spouse, and put yourself last. It’s not about a list of rights and wrongs and gender roles, it’s just simply submitting. Out of love. Every single moment of every single day for the rest of your life. I’m only two months in and I know I still have a very long ways to go indeed – everyone keeps telling me, “Just wait until you have kids!” – but I’m glad to know the answer for now, and for forever, is Jesus. I can’t stress this enough: following him is a choice. The power to love is within your grasp. Question your heart and your motives. I have to constantly be in communion with the Holy Spirit, repenting of my selfishness and asking for a heart change.

And slowly but surely, I am learning and, by the grace of God, establishing a new normal.

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  • Roxi Fernandez

    Wow this was amazing to read! As an incredibly curious/single woman this piece really helped me grasp an idea of what the reality of such a commitment would feel like. Very beautiful video too :)

  • Dirk Landis Mortensen

    Thanks for sharing Laura. I completely agree and I’m in the same boat – only on the opposite side.

    I played for a football coach who told us there are two days in our lives when we realize how selfish we really are:
    1) Our wedding day
    2) the birth of your first child

    My wedding day hit me like a truck, but it was the best impact I’ve ever had. :)

  • Kelsey Kalai

    So good, I had to read it several times.

    Laura, eloquently spoken. Thank you for your transparency and vulnerability in sharing your process on this new journey.

    This is a total mirror reflection of what I am going through. Rebel angst, humbled sobriety and all. I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate your words.

  • Melissa

    Laura,

    Thank you for your honesty and your willingness to share what God has done through your confusion and emptiness. This is a wonderful word for those of us who are single. Learning now to live a selfless life, married or single, is something God has called us to do! I am encouraged by your story and so excited for your new marriage. I pray God blesses you both as you in turn bless one another!

  • Jake

    Thanks for sharing

  • Guest

    A good post, but you will be tested even further when you have children. Especially if one or more is diagnosed with a physical or mental illness. That’s what happened with us – two of our sons (18 and 21) are severely mentally ill. I thought being married was a big challenge, but it is nothing compared to this. I have to stay close to Jesus EVERY DAY, or I will not make it. I have to have a true servant’s heart. You don’t expect to have to visit your grown son when he’s in the mental hospital for 32 days. You don’t expect to have to drive him everywhere because it is too stressful for him to drive himself. You don’t expect to have to pay off the college loan he got before he fell ill. You don’t expect to keep on a cheerful face when you’re out with him in public and he does not look normal. You don’t expect to have to consciously avoid thinking of how he was “before” – Eagle Scout, record-setting distance runner, excellent scholar, etc. Jesus has called me to love him the way he is NOW, and that is my daily prayer.

  • B. Sullivan

    As a professional counselor, I often hear women describe feelings of terrible failure soon after marriage. Yes, much of it comes from what you described– sudden realization of your own selfishness.

    But please also consider that some of it comes from a christian culture which tells women they *need* to lose their identity in order to be a good wife. Your pain during this significant loss, which your husband may never experience, is not necessarily a sign of your “selfishness.”

    Consider that perhaps you really don’t need to be spiritually led by a man. That you might be happier with not a leader but a partner for a husband, where you each have your own identity, shaped by God and your marriage commitment. And that Jesus might want it this way.

  • wow. this is good.

  • Laura Lawson Visconti

    YES YES YES.

    Nick & I attend a church in Seattle that shall remain nameless. We’ve both realized in the past few weeks that a lot of the pain I’ve experienced in my recent identity loss has evolved via subtle messages from our church about how a man is “supposed to” lead his wife. I grew up in an extremely traditional Presbyterian family (my Dad, an engineer, has a masters degree in Theology just because) and have always had a very close and mature relationship with God – a growing and imperfect relationship to be sure, and perhaps this will come across as arrogant, but I just don’t need someone to lead me towards the perfect Bible verse every single day. I kept thinking, “If I’m already in Scripture and praying through all my sin why do I need someone else to keep pointing it out as well?”

    Thankfully, since I’ve written this post, Nick & I are prayerfully moving in a new direction together – one where our selfishness is exposed and we are learning how to sacrifice ourselves to one another but in the end, it’s all about love. Not finger pointing or gender roles but simply love and acceptance.

    Thank you for the honest and helpful comment – it helped me a great deal. Also it’s so good to hear that I’m not alone!

  • Laura Lawson Visconti

    It sounds like we are both being stretched but in completely different ways. It’s always interesting to see how God brings people to a place where they absolutely need to depend on Him. I am so encouraged by your servant’s heart!

  • Laura Lawson Visconti

    Thank you for the kind words Melissa. When I was single all I wanted was to be married. Now that I’m married I understand implicitly why God had me wait for so long! Haha. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this, but being single is a gift – enjoy it for what it is!

  • Laura Lawson Visconti

    Thanks so much Kelsey. A lot of this, and my thought process in general on marriage, has come from some of our conversations. I often think and pray for you guys. Scroll up a bit to see the top comment on this blog post – an interesting take, and more of a reflection as to the direction Nick & I are currently headed. Much love to you my friend.

  • Laura Lawson Visconti

    Loved your comment Dirk. I am often struck by how much you outwardly love your wife. Also I can’t believe it’s taken so long, but WE ALL NEED TO GET TOGETHER. Maybe next week? I’ll call you.

  • Laura Lawson Visconti

    Thanks so much Roxi! My marriage is being written in new ways all the time – it’s an incredibly difficult and beautiful dance, more complex than I could have ever possibly imagined!

  • sarah

    YES! It is so wonderful to hear people who love Jesus give this kind of advice!

    My husband and I were married a little less than two years ago and were excited (but maybe a little nervous too) for our first year of marriage. I definitely experienced the growing pains of adjusting to the change of sharing a life, schedule and bedroom with another human being, but discovered I didn’t feel the suppressed sadness I had witnessed in many of my newly married girlfriends. Many of them had been independent, godly women who entered marriage believing they need to (and being expected to) submit to the authority of their husbands. “What about me and my relationship with Jesus??” many of them silently scream in their hearts as slowly but surely they are being convinced that godliness is obedience to their mate.

    I don’t mean to be on a soap box, but I hate seeing this happen. I truly believe that we are called to die to ourselves, submit to each other and live selflessly, but I believe this goes both ways. I am so grateful for a husband who values my input and relationship with Jesus as much as his own. I truly believe that our marriage survived much of the devastation year #1 often provides because of this.

  • shayek224

    Wow, this is so comforting. I have feared marriage, for the reasons you spoke of, that post-marriage identity issue and the almost want to rebel in the ways you explained. These have been fears I’ve had yet no one would talk of them. Christian couples are infamous for gloating about their marriage in life and on social media, I also have to sit back though and ask, is that really right? It’s it better to just love each other so deeply that others pick up on that naturally rather than you forcing it onto them? I bet a lot of them may feel this way too, its so refreshing that your honest about it. It prepares me for if I do start to get those feelings and thoughts after marriage, I will know they are natural and part of our daily struggle in a beautiful way.

  • Kim

    My husband, whom I have been married to for one year and almost two months, sent this to me jokingly saying “did you write this!”
    I read it and WOW, I could have written it as it is exactly what I have felt and have said aloud!
    Thank you for sharing and helping me know I am not alone or crazy, rather going through a process that may just be normal.
    I love my husband beyond words, but more importantly, we love our Lord in Christ even more. I know with Him as the centre we can make it through anything
    Kim

  • Mireille

    Your post reminds me of the beginning of my own marriage (years ago). I agree with the counsellor below but it took me such a lot longer to kick the Submissive Wife message I had been fed. But I thank God I married someone who didn’t want a “helper” (in its worst connotation) but wanted a voiced, passionate, self-knowing woman. He didn’t want someone who would sacrifice her identity, ideas and knowledge to the Husband as Spiritual Leader (sounds like a North Korean Dictator) … but someone who would argue passionately, extend herself, become the best she could be, actually have her own interests and ambitions, her own theological theories and wrestlings. Me being authentically who I am gave him pleasure. Putting myself last, trying to honour him by never disagreeing (and by faking it), overdoing the servanthood thing — we both hated it. Now we have a roller coaster of a marriage as we work it out together and keep working it out. Keep your identity, grow it together with your lover, and have a spicy marriage. Blessings.