Early Marriage | Part 1

by Elouise

1963 Aug Elouise Double Exposure flippedTybee Island, August 1963,
two years before our wedding

Do I really want to write about this? Yes, I do! I’m ready to try sorting out what sometimes seemed bizarre. That would be our first year of marriage, 1965-66, especially as it impacted me.

Here’s how I see it.

On the one hand,

  • I have a full-time job at the Harvard Law School and a great Boss.
  • Most of the time I couldn’t be happier about being married.
  • Fixing up our first apartment is a grand adventure. I love finding ways to dress it up that make both of us happy.
  • We do tons of touristy stuff together—exploring Boston and the surrounding area.
  • I enjoy cooking whatever I want to eat, and having D love it.
  • We have a growing circle of friends from the university.

On the other hand,

  • Things we didn’t have the day before we married are still missing.
  • It seems we’re supposed to figure this out on our own.
  • We have no support group. No trusted counselor to help us with things that come up.
  • We collect books about marriage, but have little wisdom about what it means for us to be married.
  • We have no healthy role models back home for the kind of marriage we want. We’re on our own!

Problems? It doesn’t take long: Decision-making. Money. Time. Sex. Spirituality. Roles. Resentment. Expectations. Disappointment. Loneliness. Boredom. Invisibility. Lethargy. Depression. Fear. Despair.

It all boils down to this: You’re not what I expected; and I’m not what you expected. Furthermore, marriage itself isn’t what I expected. Is it what you expected?

Even worse, the ups and the downs are all mixed up together. A roller-coaster of highs, lows, and nowhere at all. What have I done? I know I love D with all my heart. Yet….

It’s difficult to strike a balance, so I won’t try. This series, especially posts about our first year together, will be Up and Down. Because that’s how it was. I scrambled to put on the ‘right’ face and say the ‘right’ things, or gave up.

According to the Bible college, once we’re properly married, we’ll figure out how to be married. Isn’t the designated driver and leader supposed to figure it all out and make sure it happens? That would be D, not Elouise.

Small problem: That isn’t and wasn’t D and never could have been. Furthermore, when I tried my hand at it, I proved it wasn’t Elouise either and never could have been.

Does this sound mysterious and vague? It did to me, too. Who wrote these rules anyway? Shouldn’t it all just flow?

A few weeks ago I left a comment on a friend’s post. The question was simple: “What is marriage?” Here’s what I wrote, in light of nearly 50 years of marriage.

It takes a lifetime to be married.
For me, it’s a form of dying.
So something else can come alive.
Something different and unique.
Difficult and filled with joy.
Giving up the need to change or fix each other
in order to find the Us that hasn’t yet been birthed.
It’s about the little things of life and thought and feeling.
One upon another for many many years.
Disappointment, grief, betrayal.
All that and more.
Within a context of commitment, forgiveness and expectation.
Sometimes I think I’ll never be married until my next life!
Other times…

Unfortunately, I didn’t know all this back then. Nor would I have wanted to believe it.

To be continued…

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 22 April 2015
Photo credit: DAFraser and a friend, August 1963. Someone forgot to advance the film, resulting in the double exposure you see above. I love it.