“I promise to love and support”: Part 2

In my last post I discussed compromise in a relationship. I reflected on how challenging it can be to accept and support your significant other’s wants and needs if they conflict with your own. In this post I want to further reflect on the importance of support in a marriage.

I love the Practical Wedding blog because many of the posts address the difficulties couples encounter in a relationship and marriage. I think one of the biggest challenges I see myself dealing with is supporting Jesse when I am unhappy or not finding much success in my personal ventures (jobs, friendships, etc.). Already, I have spent a lot of time worrying and getting upset about moving with Jesse. Going to law school, Jesse will be embarking on this new, exciting journey that he’s been anticipating for years. Meanwhile, I am going to be searching for a job (not fun) and figuring out how to adjust to my new role as the sole financial supporter in our relationship (also not fun). Then there’s the stress that comes with adjusting to a new city and making new friends. And the cherry on top is not knowing how much time I am actually going to be able to spend with Jesse. Where is my silver lining in all of this?

Jesse and dolls

Support in a relationship comes in many different forms, including making one another laugh. Here, Jesse enthusiastically poses with some weird dolls at my house. (Summer 2011)

Support has been at the heart of a number of discussions on a Practical Wedding. The posts I’ve read on this topic have helped me look at my upcoming situation with a more positive outlook.

In “Reclaiming Wife: Making Your Own Luck,” Emily reflects on the importance of setting yourself up for success and how having a supportive spouse makes the journey into an uncertain future easier to confront.

The beginning of Emily’s story sounds a lot like my own:

“Before graduation, my post-college plans were incredibly vague. I was going to get like… a job….When getting married became the new plan, I embraced it.”

Despite having almost six years of higher education under my belt I don’t know where to begin my job search. Sure I have latched onto a job idea here and there, but none of my ideas spark my enthusiasm (most likely because I am not ready to grow up). I am more eager about marriage because it will provide me with stability in an otherwise uncertain future. This uncertainty is scary because I have always been a planner. These past few months have been difficult because I have had to accept that there are circumstances that are out of my control and cannot be planned for. Emily points out that

“…it’s okay to not have a plan. It’s easy to get discouraged if you set a goal for yourself and you’re not quite sure how to achieve it.”

While I take great comfort in having plans I am slowly accepting the necessity of not planning every last detail. Having too many plans and expectations often leads to frustration and discouragement. Emily says that

“While I didn’t have a plan, I had managed to set myself up for success without realizing it, just by saying, ‘I do.’ I married someone who believes I’m going to do great things someday, and someone who pushes me when I’m not achieving my full potential.”

Emily’s words are really powerful. When you get married you are entering into a partnership with someone who should be your biggest cheerleader and advocate. Jesse has already proven that he is one of my biggest supporters. While I don’t have clear career goals right now he is certain that I will find my passion someday. When I put myself down Jesse is eager to build me back up by reminding me of all my accomplishments.

Support is very hard work. And while it is impossible to support your partner 100% of the time it is an invaluable and necessary part of a relationship. I think sometimes couples waste so much time and energy focusing on the day-to-day distractions that life presents instead of focusing on the reason why you’re together–to love and support one another.

So while my job hunt may get discouraging and the bills get hard to pay, Jesse will always be my silver lining.

What gets you through challenging circumstances? What are some visible ways that a partner can offer support in a relationship? 


2 Comments on ““I promise to love and support”: Part 2”

  1. pmccorkl says:

    Christina, although I’m not engaged or even in a relationship, I still enjoyed reading this post for the simple fact it’s so genuine. You touch upon various issues and feelings any young adult would have as they embark on their new life. I’m a planner and always want to be in control of every last detail. Being able to let go and let flow is something we can all learn to do. I can only imagine the difficulty of finding a balance between wanting to do everything for yourself yet being open to someone else’s dreams and desires as you make your way toward the married life. I think it takes a secure, confident person to let things unfold even if it’s what they expected. Marriage is huge step but it seems you and Jesse have a lot of great things to look forward to. If nothing else you have your silver lining, something we all hope for one day.

    • Christina says:

      Thank you for the very thoughtful response, Phylicia. I am also someone who loves to plan so this whole experience has been very difficult. I know it’s going to get even more challenging once summer comes because we’ll actually be making those decisions I’ve been worrying about for months. As you point out, going with the flow is an important thing for us to do. In fact, the more stressful or difficult things get the more important it is for us to relinquish control. The fact is, planning every last detail isn’t going to improve our situation. This way of thinking goes against the way we’re wired but I think planning every detail is actually more stressful than allowing things to happen organically.

      I’m not sure balance is ever possible in a marriage. If you are truly committed to your spouse you have to be willing to make small (or big) sacrifices at a certain point in time in order to give your partner the opportunity to pursue their wants/needs. You also have to learn not to be resentful of your spouse when they ask you to be flexible and supportive, especially if they’ve made sacrifices for you.

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