Four months . . . No, I'm not pregnant.

Four months into my marriage and I continue to realize that well, marriage is hard. The things I love about my husband, I also have a hard time with. The things he loves about me, he also can’t stand. What attracts us to our partner is also what we work through together as a couple. My husband has a somewhat estranged relationship with his parents and as much as he will never come to an ideal resolve about that relationship, he likes them, and he wants me to like them even though he only shares all that he dislikes about his parents. Accustomed to suburban living, my husband now has a 20-minute commute into the city because we live right across the Hudson River in Jersey City, but he hates urban living. Have I been so insensitive to his needs that it’s after four months of marriage that I learned these things only after he blurted them out to me in a heated discussion?

It is after the yelling and tears and my not being allowed to cool off and take a walk that I know he feels uninvolved in our marriage because to him, I am “fiercely independent” – his description, not mine. He admits, perhaps he’s needy. I don’t think that’s it. It’s a challenge for me to learn inter-dependence. My biggest fear about having a serious relationship has always been that I would lose my independence, that I still needed to maintain it for fear of losing my partner in the future and I would have to relearn independence and the enjoyment of being by myself. Having not been accountable to anyone since I went to college and having lived alone for almost ten years, it is a huge adjustment to have another person in my space. Of course, I wanted to get married. There’s no doubt about that, but it definitely is life-changing when I worked so hard to be on my own, enjoy my alone-ness, and now, I have to make big decisions with this man who is my husband. It is no longer about me, it’s about us and future us-es.

That’s really difficult for me. I feel the guilt of his unhappiness about where we currently live. I feel the guilt of his feeling obliged to me now whereas previously, he was obliged to his family though I remember to provide him with options. At the same time, I am adamant about being my own woman within this partnership. I am adamant about the ideals that I want to live no matter how much I have to keep on trying. And I am adamant about what I’m willing to compromise and what I’m not willing to compromise when it comes to life decisions.

After some reflection, I realize that our heated discussion probably stemmed from a most recent incident with his family. I couldn’t attend a family outing celebrating my husband’s and sister-in-law’s birthdays because I had a youth training scheduled all day that Saturday. My father-in-law commented to my husband, “Why do you let her work on a Saturday?” My husband shared this with me, which led to our heated discussion about my fierce independence. I suspect that this made my husband uncomfortable and only aggravated some underlying issues that we continue to work
through as a couple.

How do I as a fiercely independent woman effectively negotiate my taking initiative and involving my husband in the decision-making process or rather, my daily life? I guess, that’s part of it, realizing that this man, my partner, is involved in my every day living, not just part of certain components of my life.