Friday, April 24, 2009

Banished to the Couch...Kind of

Melissa and I haven’t slept in the same room, let alone bed, for almost a year now.

Now, before you get all bent out of shape thinking that I did something horribly wrong and got grounded to the couch for an extended period of time, let me explain.

Melissa is an insanely light sleeper…anything and everything wakes her up. On top of that, she can’t wear ear plugs because she gets ear infections.

I, on the other hand, am a very deep sleeper and do everything known to man in my sleep: talk, snore, breathe loud, fart, toss and turn, steal the covers and violently convulse…and I’m sure I’m leaving something out.

One night, Melissa was startled awake and when she opened her groggy eyes, she saw a black figure at the foot of the bed. After a second she realized the black figure was poking her in the leg and was a little weirded out. Eventually she realized that it was me and she asked me what the heck I was doing. I expressed in a cheerful voice, “I’m looking for you.” She told me to knock it off and go back to bed and I did. I don’t remember ever doing that…

On the flip side, one evening wasn’t as funny. I was muttering in my sleep and keeping Melissa awake so she tried to wake me up. I snapped at her and told her that I wasn’t muttering and got pissed at her for waking me up. She, realizing I was actually still asleep, tried to tell me to wake up. I snapped at her again that I was awake. This proceeded a few more turns until I glared at her and yelled for her to leave me alone and stop telling me that I was asleep.

At this point, fearing for her life, Melissa grabbed a blanket, our dauschund and her cell phone and went out to the couch. She dialed the numbers 9-1-1 into her phone and set it on the table in front of her and sat, cuddling with our dog, watching the bedroom door until she fell asleep.

When I woke up in the morning, I went out into the living room, stretched and gave Melissa a big kiss and expressed, “I slept so well last night. How did you sleep?” Turns out Melissa was right…I had been asleep. I don’t remember that either.

Because of our complete opposite sleeping patterns, we bought five mattresses before our third anniversary. We went from a full to a queen to a king sized Bob-o-pedic to two twins. When we got the twins they were next to each other, then across the room from one another and then in totally separate rooms.

On top of that, we have tried running an air purifier, wearing nose strips and I even got surgery on my nose…which didn’t work and was a waste of $250.

So, it’s almost been a year since we slept in the same room.

Why do I share this with you all? I think there are two things that we have learned about marriage from this process.

First, before we got to the point where we decided to sleep in different rooms, we were really embarrassed about the possibility. We thought it was a sign that our marriage was going to fall apart and expressed that it couldn’t be healthy. We finally ended up just talking to someone in our church about it who told us that her brother and his wife had to do the same thing. And then we heard pretty much the same thing from someone else. And then someone else.

Why is it that when we face issues within marriage, the first reaction is often “we are so messed up.” We tend to look at a lot of issues as unique to our own marriage and assume no one else struggles with it. From what Melissa and I have found, this couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the best things that you can do for your marriage is to be open and honest about your struggles because you are not alone in them. When you can learn to talk to others you will quickly find hope and encouragement that make the issues not such a big deal anymore.

Second, as good as it is to prepare for marriage with pre-marital counseling, reading books and going to seminars, I think there will always be a handful of things that you just can’t prepare to deal with. There will always be surprises in life. If someone had asked Melissa and I to make a list of the top 10 things we would struggle with when we got married, I doubt that sleeping would have even made the list. It might not have made the top 20…

Marriage though is about perseverance and sticking things out. You can’t escape ever getting thrown curveballs in life, so it’s better to stop running away from them and instead figure out how to hit them out of the park.

Does sleeping in separate rooms suck? Yea! Is it frustrating and does it create tension at times? Sure! But does it hurt our marriage, no…in a lot of ways it has helped our marriage tremendously because Melissa sleeps now at night. We’ve had to learn that it is just one of those things in life that is what it is.

What things are you struggling with right now?

Is there anything that you feel like you and your spouse are the only ones struggling with it?

We encourage you to post your comments her or find some friends to talk to. We guarantee you, you aren’t alone.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Jessica Simpson Helped My Marriage

So I (Melissa) was thinking the other day about Jessica Simpson. Ha! Yes, that's really where we're going to start with this blog. Good old Jessica Simpson. But really, I was thinking about the MTV show that was on a couple of years ago called Newlyweds that featured a "real" look into the new marriage of quasi-celebrities Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. I was totally addicted, as my college roommates will attest to, and so were many, many other people. In fact Jessica and Nick became uber-famous simply because they allowed the public an insider's look into their everyday married life.

I have two observations I think are worth noting about the whole ridiculousness of the show and what it actually represented on a social level to many who watched it. It was interesting to note how successful this show about marriage became. It exploded in ratings and made Jessica and Nick a ton of money. Why? I think because it allowed us as the public to view the messy, regular, relatively "normal" aspects of newly married life. While they were still celebrities, we got to see Jessica burp, whine about laundry, say stupid things, get mad at her husband, and let her guard down with him in moments of pure silliness. We got to see Nick get annoyed at his wife, try to fix things and move furniture on his own, make bad decisions, support his wife's career, and let loose with his friends. It was great to "connect" with this couple through was like therapy. "Hey other people fight too!" There are so many stereotypes and false expectations that society and the media portray about what married life should look and feel like. I think many of us wonder if we're doing it all wrong when the "newly-wed-ness" isn't feeling so picture perfect like it's supposed to be. I think Newlyweds made us all breathe a collective sigh of relief that real marriages do experience fights just as much as happiness. And that's it's not all picture perfect, not even for the rich and famous.

Secondly, I would like to point out how fast the fame disappeared for Jessica and Nick as soon as the show ended and their divorce became public. These two people were celebrities simply because they were married and as soon as that ship did their fame. It is so interesting to me and this is why: I think that our generation of 20-30 somethings and the generation of teenagers below us are voraciously hungry to see marriages survive. We have grown up with a 50% percent divorce rate. It's utterly common-place to see families and marriages ripped apart on a daily basis. And most social scientists have statistic after statistic on how this negatively impacts our society. Divorce hurts. It's hurts the parents and it hurts the children. I know, because I have parents who are divorced. Sure you can accept it and heal from it; God is a great Redeemer of hurting hearts. But while the pain can be healed, the broken relationship between the divorced parties remains. And we are left to deal with our own broken families or the broken families of friends or spouses. I think our generation responded to Newlyweds so strongly because we desperately wanted to believe that there was some hope for marriage left. We wanted Jessica and Nick to stay married. We wanted to see a marriage work, to see commitment happen. And when their marriage ended in divorce, we cast them off. After all, divorce is old news. How many times have we all heard, "It's just not working out any more, I'm not happy." As a public, we felt disillusioned and un-empathetic because we were hungry not to see a marriage fail...but to see a marriage succeed.

So what can we take away from my musings about Newlyweds? Perhaps that there is a reality behind every marriage that doesn't live up to "image" of happily ever after that we all try to portray. I think that is normal. I think it's normal to fight, normal to be annoyed, normal to act totally goofy, normal to say stupid things and laugh at each other. It's okay to have a real marriage and that means a lot of ups and downs. And I also think it's good to be aware of what is going on in our society concerning marriage and divorce. It's good to dig deep and try to understand our own personal feelings about commitment and to talk to each other about those feelings and ideas.

What do you think our culture and media tell us marriage should look like?

Do you agree that our generation wants to see marriages stand the test of time?

Let us know your thoughts.

Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.