The short ‘n’ snappy version of the last 10 years of my life is this: since I finished college, and even back when I was an undergrad raising my daughter with the help of my mom and grandmother, struggle has been as familiar to me as the tips of my fingers.
Struggle with bad relationships and an ex-boyfriend I forgave too many times for hitting me. Struggle with self-esteem and the way I look. Struggle with being broke and having overdrawn accounts, repossessed cars, and eviction notices. Struggle with the deaths of my amazing Nana and a beloved aunt who, despite her healthy lifestyle, dwindled away from stomach cancer. And there’s plenty more drama where those came from.
Aside from the manic-ness of actually going through it, struggle has made me a better mother and I expect it to shape me into a stellar wife. ‘Cause that whole for better or worse, for richer or poorer thing? Yeah, I can do that.
I should say from the giddy up that I’m not underestimating the amount of work it takes to create and maintain marital bliss, if such a thing even consistently exists. I see beautiful examples of committed, happy marriages around me in my blood family, in my church family, and in my extended family. They don’t pull any punches when it comes to being honest about getting on each other's nerves from time to time and the ebbs and flows of actually living out a lifetime together.
It’s one thing to throw a big to-do and stand in front of an altar, they assure me, but quite another to actually wake up every day as two individuals who’ve changed over the years and still somehow meet in the middle with their love in tact.
I’m praying that the good Lord is working on my dream man right now. In fact, let me send up a little nudge. Sometimes the Almighty gets busy with wars and the environment and political scandals and Dancing With the Stars results, and I fear he’s forgotten about lil’ ol’ me. I can see how my little piddly requests might get scooted down on his prioritized to-do list.
But can this hubby-to-be be smart? Like able to have an intelligent conversation and have street swag at the same time? And let’s make him committed, mannerly, respectful — especially of women — and God-loving without beating me over the head with a Bible. Add a great sense of humor that’ll keep me laughing and all of the attributes of an awesome father. And, if I can just throw a few superficialities in there, can he be both handsome and sexy (because being one doesn’t necessarily mean you’re also the other) and equipped to put it down like a porn star? I’m just sayin’.
Interestingly enough, while I’m waiting for the magical man to show himself and whisk me away to happily ever after, I’m still in the midst of all kinds of struggles. There never seems to be down time to breathe a sigh of relief for surviving one before something else starts percolating and presenting itself as a problem. These sagas have made me Kleenex’s number one customer, but they’ve also made me one of the toughest people that I know. That’ll come in handy when life throws me and him — whoever “him” is — an unexpected loop.
I can say, “don’t worry, I got this” whenever he’s too frazzled to take the lead and comfort him with horror stories aplenty when he needs a good laugh. The best part about being a survivor is that you learn to find the humor in the most unlikely, seemingly un-funniest places. I’m as far from ideal as celery is from being tasty, but my natural resilience and optimism, honed through the hellfires of trial and tribulation, are going to help me keep some fine man encouraged. One of these days.
What life experiences have made you a better wife or girlfriend? What did you learn from them?
Image via Yashna M/Flickr