by Kayla Peterson
Everyone tells you how hard marriage is. They warn you against letting the sun go down on your anger, give creative ideas for date nights and share war stories from their newlywed years. Intellectually, you know all of this is true, all possible, and so you take notes. You try hard to budget for a date night, talk about your day and listen to your spouse, and you look forward to the time you can share your own war stories. “Remember when we only had 1 closet for the 2 of us?!”
I knew marriage would be hard. Ryan and I are both first-borns, and we have the typical first-born personalities. Sometimes getting along is not easy. I knew that, I expected those types of clashes. What I did not expect was for life to become overwhelming. I did not expect to be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of my responsibility as a wife. I didn’t expect to feel pulled in 1000 different directions. We have the same goals, but the situations we’ve faced weren’t one we could’ve anticipated. After living away at college, we didn’t realize we’d miss our families so very much. I naively didn’t realize that my oh-so-practical business degree wouldn’t get me a job that I love – or that I would be so burnt out that job searching would leave me frustrated and feeling worthless, feelings which negatively affect my marriage. I’ve been Catholic and he’s been Protestant all 4 years of our relationship and while I went to Mass alone during our college dating years, so I was not expecting to feel lonely when I sit in my pew now. We talked about this, we planned to go to the Saturday vigil Mass together, and then a service at a church of his choosing on Sunday morning. We could never have planned for his job to occupy his weekends. I didn’t realize that the wife I want to be isn’t the wife that I can be – not now, not at this stage in our marriage. It’s surprisingly hard to accurately time dinner so that all of the food is ready at the same time, with the hot dishes still hot and the cold dishes still cold.
I took my frustrations to Confession this past week and was surprised by my priest’s counsel. He told me to go to our Mother, to look to her example and to ask God for her simplicity of heart. I went back to my pew a little confused. I decided to just trust him and pray quietly to God. I felt better (who doesn’t after Confession?) but left the chapel still not quite understanding what Mary could teach me about my frustrations. She is the Mother of God. Her husband is a saint. They practiced the same religion and she definitely knew she was doing God’s will. Let’s not even think about her grace-filled soul. Just in practicalities we’re polar opposites.
But I’ve been thinking about her a lot, and it was only today that it finally dawned on me what asking for Mary’s simplicity of heart might mean. Everyone probably shared their mothering war stories, prepared her the same way we still prepare newlyweds today. She probably had dreamed about how to live for God her whole life, praying for chances to love Him. No one, nothing could have prepared her for what He would ask her to do. She could anticipate loving her son, but could she have known what that would mean? She was human so even though her soul was filled with grace, I’m almost sure maybe she would get a slight touch of anxiety, wondering if she was “doing it right”. I get overwhelmed thinking that God trusted me to be my husbands helpmeet – how much more overwhelming would it be to know that God trusted me to raise His only Son?
The thing is, we both said “I do”. Mary said her fiat and became the Mother of God. I stood in front of a church full of people and pledged my life to Ryan. I do. We do. But I can, we can only because we have to trust God to take care of us through the anxiety, to see us through the fog.
So far my only conclusion is that even though our direct circumstances are different, it’s likely we both feel the same anxiety. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never been a wife before. She was a new mom and a new wife too. I’m glad that I can look to her example of simple trust in God.
Kayla Peterson is a Catholic, a wife, and a secretary. On June 25, 2011 she married the love of her life. Together, they are working on building their marriage for the Lord. Though she is Catholic and her husband is not, they enjoy worshiping Christ together, finding common ground, and trying not to shout about their differences. Their hope is that their children will know, love, and honor God with all their hearts, minds, and souls. Kayla blogs about interfaith marriage and other topics that strike her fancy at The Alluring World.