Marriage took everything out of me

I got married young. And fast.

To some, that’s a bad combination. But it wasn’t to us. I was nearly done with schooling and he was somewhere in the middle, and it would be…well, perfect.

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But then I learned something. The part that romance novels and Hollywood and love gurus don’t talk about when you’re getting ready to be fitted for a dress and testing wedding cake. It was a truth that had me shocked and keeled over in tears when it first hit me. And I remember saying it out loud and watching his face from the bathroom door completely change as I said it.

“This marriage is taking everything out of me!”

Looking back on that night, almost three years ago now, I’m glad I realized it. I’m glad I learned that marriage does, in fact, take it all out of you and it never gives it back.

And you know what? I’m grateful for all those things that it never gives back.

But it took a while to be thankful for it. Because when you first get married you cling to all the things that in reality decays a marriage. The things that are comfortable. The things that make you right. The things that tell you this isn’t the fairytale you thought it would be and this is actually hard work.

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But looking back now, I can’t help but feel thankful for that night when I shouted that it was taking everything I had inside of me. Here I am now, sitting beside an imperfect man who stresses out over nursing exams and keeps his crusty cereal bowl on the nightstand, and I love him more than I ever have. Imperfections and all. And that’s because of the daily process of letting marriage refine us.

Marriage strips you of selfishness.

It robs you of impulsiveness.

It teaches you painful lessons of compromise and scolds you to pick your battles.

It brings you to your knees in prayer when your spouse is hurting and you suddenly realize your own heart hurts too.

It binds blind ambitions and prioritizes what matters. It makes you rethink your dreams and steals the dreams that suddenly hold no more weight in your heart.

It burns down the towers of bad habits and hammers out expectations that disappoint.

It takes it all out of you little by little.

But yet–three years later, and still on the beginning trailhead, I see that it gives back a whole lot more.

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I’m grateful for the woman that marriage made me into. I don’t think the old Kayla would ever allow myself the same grace to have a messy apartment every once in a while in order to take that extra nap I need. But Matt did. So I do.

I’m stronger now and more resilient simply because I chose to stay–to work hard–at something that was difficult. I got up from the bathroom floor and decided I wouldn’t quit this time around like I had quit so many things in the past. That Matt was worth it. And I carried that virtue into every detail of my life, working harder than ever before for things that are worth it.

I bite my tongue more, practicing kindness and love for people who often seem undeserving. I choose to redirect frustrations and calm arguments and we’ve chiseled away at all the rough edges that comes with learning how to work through the meaningless, “But I think I’m right” debacles.

I’ve learned to be a whole lot more spontaneous. From adopting bunnies from cardboard boxes to deciding one day to drive to the ocean “just because”, Matt has taught me to seize life by the reins. No need to pencil it in or be logical about it.

at the ocean

I’ve learned to love. A lot. When I said “I do” I thought that was the pinnacle of it all. That I had reached the point where I understood what true love is. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every single day is another lesson in how to love and it’s taught me so far that love isn’t given to you, it’s worked for and chosen.

Love is dirty laundry, two separate blankets on the bed to stop early morning tug-o-wars, netflix, make-upless faces, mascara on his dress shirts, texts to get milk after work, and lots of hugs after a long, bad day. Love is admitting you’re wrong, listening when you’d rather talk, and surrendering when you’d rather say the last word. It’s opening yourself up completely and letting everything fall out, letting your inner being be replaced by something that is refined and smoother and more equipped. Love is a daily choice.

I look back at my wedding pictures and smile.

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Such a beautiful day for so many reasons. It was the first day of the journey toward becoming SO much better together. I see two people who are just about to learn what love actually is. Two people who truly won’t give up, just like their wedding song stated. And I see a girl who eventually let marriage take everything out of her.

That’s all it really takes, after all.

Sure, we have miles to go. Years to go. Lots more lessons to be learned and lots of experiences to be had. We have children and moves and losses and celebrations and milestones up ahead. But I’m thankful we learned a lesson that some people, years and years in, still have yet to grasp. A painful lesson, but a rewarding one at that.

Marriage will beg to take everything out of you.

Let it.

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9 thoughts on “Marriage took everything out of me

  1. I just wrote a long winded comment, and forgot to sign in ahead of time and WordPress didn’t save my comment… ugh. But here is the jist of what I said:

    I have long struggled with my faith, especially in having faith in Heavenly Father. I am a non-member, but have previously investigated with missionaries. Recently, however, I have found that my faith taps me on the shoulder once in awhile, and in particular when I KNOW Heavenly Father is sending me a message. This blog post is one of His messages that I know He wanted me to see. I know this because it could not have come at a better time, as now is when I needed to read those words the most!

    You see, my husband and I have recently had a disagreement about our cat. Without going into details, my husband suddenly told me he wanted to get rid of her and he saw her as an object. I, however, see her as more than a cat and disagreed with his position. Though I disagreed, I respected his feeling. That said, I didn’t feel I was getting the same from him and we were emotionally and physically distancing ourselves from each other (the issue was more than just about the cat, but I choose not to get into the nitty gritty) and neither of us were happy. My husband even said he was concerned about how our disagreement could affect our marriage.

    In any event, the key is we have had to compromise A LOT on A LOT of things. Marriage IS compromise, it is hard, but it is also highly rewarding. We, too, have years ahead of us to learn how to be husband and wife… we will be learning even beyond the veil (hubby doesn’t believe in that… and I don’t yet… but there’s time!). Marriage really does take everything out of me, but I remember what I signed up for and why I signed that marriage license, and why I said my vows… and then I remember, with a smile on my face, what really matters.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. My husband and I both got married young. We were 18 when we married, and now 10 years later we have 5 (almost 6) kids and our lives are CHAOS!!!! The chaos thickened with each new child. But it’s been so worth it and I fall in love with him again and again every day. Our chaos is perfect. Our lives are perfect. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t IMAGINE it any other way.

  3. Beautifully stated! After nearly 47 years it is still taking from me and yet still giving so much in return. The trials of aging together, bearing one another’s health problems, leaning on each other during the hard times all both take and give in their own way. Thank you for that wonderful reminder!

  4. We were married at age nineteen, for 41 years before he died in 2012. We didn’t have the dream life I expected, going dancing, out to eat, etc, because of his depression and chemical imbalance. We spent most of our time at home, with him behind a computer and me doing housework. Yet; the love between us never died. We made mistakes of course, but still surprised each other along the way…………………….like the love notes I left in his lunch box for his coffee route, for all those years. Like………………………….the day he came home with a tiny piece of red, heart-shaped glass and placed it in my hand. He had kicked something on the parking lot while on the coffee route and heard it tinkle. He looked down and found the piece of glass next to a broken bottle, that had broken in a heart shape! It was that love that helped me take care of him for a year through his Cancer and live in hospice for a week till he died. It was that love that allowed me to do all the driving for a year and take care of him, even though his manly feelings took a beating. He knew I needed to take care of him to repay him for all the years he had taken care of me to allow me to stay home and never work in public. No; we didn’t have the dream life of doing everything together, but we had those wonderful moments that counted more than physical events done together. Giving of yourself to your spouse and not keeping score, forgiving, and hugging a lot. That is what counts. Love, love, love and love! Mary

  5. Can I just raise my hand right now and cry….”You’re article here saved my marriage?” I have had many tough days in marriage….6 years in with 4th baby on the way (woh….FOURTH???!!!!) YA…I still sometimes think that.) but today I was harboring thoughts of that guy I dated and was gonna marry back at BYU, but we both served LDS missions and no more relationship. He’s now divorced and highly available and most likely still “into me”. YUCK!!
    Thanks for reminding me marriage is work, no matter WHO you ended up with, and that you create your happiness with aid of the Lord…working together, not against eachother! Blessings to you friend, and future children.

  6. You’re getting it right! But I think that marriage is a labor of love, not just drudgery. After all, you have to do the work of life even if you’re single but it’s a whole lot more fun to do it with someone you love. We’ve been married 47 years, and have 5 kids and 13 grandchildren. You’re right when you tell all of us to “let” it take it all out of you. Give yourself to it. It’s the happily ever after we’re all looking for.

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