So. This post is heavy and relationship-ful, and so if you want cranberry sparkles and pumpkin-flavored unicorns, I suggest you try clicking on the sidebar.
Everyone asks how marriage is, and it's great - same as pre-marriage, great. Except with one very hard piece. You're suddenly related to people you don't even know. Whose behavior you might not like. And you have no control over it.
And people, as you know, will defend their families till the end. I can criticize my own parent, but you can't.
The only thing we ever fight about is Nick's family. We are going there for Thanksgiving. And I am ashamed to say that over the last couple months I've behaved very, very badly about it.
Every time the topic arose, I would voice my dread. Talk about what kind of alcohol should go in the flask. Ask him things like the odds of his mom being nice to me this time.
Mean, spiteful, mean, mean, mean things to say about the family of the person you love so dearly and to whom you have committed your life.
The truth is, his mother said some very unkind things in public the weekend of our wedding. To my mother and to Nick. And like a dog, this got my hackles so far up.
What started as a tiny black drop of rage developed, over weeks and retellings, into a large, mottled, festering ball of loathing. It stopped being about her and what actually happened and started being about me and my anger. Not to pull in Star Wars, but if you have ever gotten into a cycle like this, you can see how easy it is to get on the Darth Vader, soul-eating track.
Nick's explanation to me was, she didn't mean the things she said in the way you took them. You need to understand what my mother is like.
And my reaction was, no, I refuse to understand bad behavior. I have dealt with a lot of bad behavior in my life, and I'm not taking any more, least of all from someone not actually related to me. She needs to be told that her behavior is not OK. She simply cannot treat people like that.
I said a lot more than that, and almost always in moments of anger. So it wasn't necessarily put constructively.
But I would go out for a run and envision getting into a fight with his mother at the Thanksgiving dinner table. I would picture, word for word, what she'd say, how she'd say it, and how I would stand up and tell her off, and stomp out the door. . .
My scenario would, of course, end there, because carless, I'd be stuck on the doorstep. Anticlimactic, I know.
But you get the idea. I'd end my run with an excess of adrenaline. I'd built up gobs of green bile and piles of purple vitriol. I'd return breathing hard and snorting flames. Were it tangible, I could've knit an enormous, flaming red (and green and purple flecked) afghan with my rage.
Behavior like this gets you. . .nowhere but into a bad place in you relationship. You feel like an asshole, because you are behaving like one.
And Nick, sometimes he would get really, really angry. And sometimes he would remain calm, and just ask me to see it from his perspective. Ask me to keep an open mind.
I would vow to him and to myself to try. . .and I would fail.
My husband, who to my face defended his family, but is a bigger, more constructive person than I, he spoke to his father. Who spoke to his mother. Who was surprised that I had taken things in the way I did - as Nick said, she hadn't intended anything unkind - but agreed to treat me nicely when we're up there this Thanksgiving.
I am hopeful. The best any of us can do is try. She will try and I will try. And the hardest thing to do is change family patterns. I know this as a deep, intense fact.
Thanksgiving is upon us.
And I have to say, I am so incredibly thankful for Nick who, even though he can get extremely mad at me, loves me and never questions his commitment to me. I know I can be hugely difficult, and when angered, head for the jugular. I'm smart enough to be really, sharply damaging. And I'm dumb enough to occasionally go ahead and let fly with it.
Our two months of marriage have been a huge growing up period for me. This old, and I still have so much growing to do.
Thank you, Nick, for having the patience to stretch and teach and grow with me. And thank you all for reading, and for sticking with me through all of, well, all of my everythings.
Big happy Thanksgiving hugs to all of you. Unless you don't celebrate Thanksgiving. In which case I wish you big late-November hugs.