While we were engaged, Adam and I took this relationship inventory (it was not, we were told, a compatibility test). Our results came back very high. The only number I actually remember anymore is a 100% we got for communication, but all the scores were high. In the hubris of young love, I rather expected we were starting off ahead of the game and I supposed marriage wouldn't be as hard for us as it was for most couples. It's been quite humbling to find I'm not so gifted at this relationship thing after all.
In the years since our engagement, I've discovered that what I had thought made marriage hard, the sacrifices, the compromises, the refocus on us rather than me, has been a breeze compared to the real hard stuff: complete and utter honesty with myself and my husband. Marriage requires me not only to recognize that I am not perfect in some vague theoretical sense, but to take responsibility for my imperfect actions and reactions that hurt the man I love and do damage to our relationship.
I have to set aside my Suzy-on-top-of-it mask, step out from behind the screen of "I've got everything together; I don't need any help" and trust Adam to show me mercy, compassion, and grace when I have failed utterly. It requires me to be transparent, vulnerable. I don't like vulnerable. I like to be able to trust myself and not have to count on anybody else. Adam says I'm a control freak. Or, when he's feeling more generous, he calls me high maintenance.
Sally Albright: Well, I just want it the way I want it.
Harry Burns: I know; high maintenance.
from When Harry Met Sally
It's just so much easier not to have to rely on somebody else, especially when I know he is going to let me down. Maybe not today or even this week, but, because he's imperfect himself, Adam lets me down sometimes. He says and does things that hurt me. I don't like that. And, if I am being honest, I say and do things that hurt him. I don't like that either.
Still, if I don't let Adam get close enough to hurt me, he's not close enough to love me either. Just why these two must go hand in hand is part of my ongoing argument with God about the necessity of free will. However, until I can convince Him otherwise (I'm not holding my breath waiting for that day), this is the way of the world. I don't like it, but if I refuse to accept it, if I hold back or try to hide the real me in an attempt to keep from experiencing pain, I miss out on real love.
That is very, very hard.