Sometimes honesty in Catholic circles can be difficult. It is hard to admit to others that our vocation is just plain hard, that marriage can be messy and rough. I have been married for 3.5 years. We did not have a “honeymoon phase” as I was pregnant 3 months into our marriage and was sick as all get out for all 9 months of my pregnancy. I even threw up when I was in labor. Other hyperemesis sufferers, I know your pain. My husband had to take care of me for most of my pregnancy, while working full-time. After I had our beautiful daughter, I developed debilitating post-partum depression/anxiety, something that I have lived with off and on after all of my miscarriages too, including currently. Not to mention that my husband’s has migraines that have resulted in a few hospital visits.
Every year of our marriage we have experienced a loss. I have spent a good deal of time mourning and battling mental illness. All of these things take their toll on spouses. We both finally realized that we could use some help in our marriage. Catholic marriages are no more perfect than non-Catholic marriages. The Cross is a way of life no matter what situation we live in.
I finally buckled under the weight of everything and was honest with a friend of mine, another Catholic wife who has been married for over two decades. Things had boiled over and it was clear that we need a course correction. My friend listened to me in an empathetic and loving way as I shared the brutal honesty of how things have gone and as I cried profusely for half an hour. I joked that I catechized her children. We are all broken messes at times.
We need to be able to be honest with our Faith community without fear of judgment. A woman who has been married for 20 years has a lot to teach someone like me who has not even been married 4 years. We should be able to talk to another Catholic wife/mom in all honesty and get advice from those women who have walked this vocation longer than me. We also have to be honest with ourselves. It is not a failure to do what it takes to make a marriage better.
So here are my small successes for this week:
1. Finally acknowledging that my husband and I need to some spiritual help. We will go to a Retrouvaille (http://www.retrouvaille.org/) weekend in February. I would recommend it for all couples who need to strengthen their marriages or heal.
2. Being vulnerable to a friend of mine instead of keeping things bottled up inside. This is a big success for me! I have a tendency to pretend I have it all together while I am crumbling on the inside. It is something I learned to do in the military.
3. I have become even more aware of my own sin and weakness. Advent is doing its work on me as I learn even more why I need a Savior.