Thursday, October 23, 2014
Guest Post - Sherri Wilson Johnson: When Marriage Isn't What You Thought it Would Be
Anne: Please help me welcome Sherri Wilson Johnson,
Sherri: As a little girl, I dreamed of being a wife and mother. I was born in 1966, and there wasn't much else for a little girl to aspire to be. I loved my Legos and built houses all the time, complete with a room for all the babies I'd have one day. I played with Barbies and pretended to be Ken's wife. Of course, when I got my Barbie airplane, I have to admit, pretending to be the flight attendant (or stewardess, as they were called then) was a guilty pleasure of mine. My dad didn't let my mom work even after we were grown and it was pretty clear that he thought I'd start an occupation after graduating while waiting for my prince charming to come and sweep me off my feet. Although I wanted to be the next big nightly news anchorwoman, I let my mind settle on "just" being a wife and mom.
Along came my prince charming a few years later, and I couldn't wait to be his wife. I wasn't sure if I wanted to jump right in and start having babies, but I could definitely see what our future was going to look like. We owned a company and worked side-by-side every evening cleaning office buildings. We spent late nights at Dunkin' Donuts, came home, and snuggled until the morning light. In less than a year, I became pregnant (surprise) and the lazy days of hanging out together and the carefree nights of working alongside one another until 2:00 a.m. came to a grinding halt.
Totally unprepared for motherhood, I kind of freaked out. I felt alone and wanted to go back to being a couple. But being a strong-willed, second-born child, I sucked it up, put on my big girl pants, and gave it my all. The only problem: I didn't know how to divide my attention between my husband and my daughter, and I didn't know how to ask him for help without looking like a wimp of a mother. Life was not turning out to be as fun and footloose as I'd dreamed it'd be when I was a little girl.
In my latest novel, To Laugh Once More, a Victorian Romance set in the South, Lydia, the heroine, suffers from this same kind of disillusionment. She thought marriage would be one big happy whirlwind of romance, complete with travels around the world and a houseful of children, all of which a governess would tend to. But three years in, she realizes that she feels no different than she did when she was a young debutante on her father's plantation waiting for a beau to sweep her off her feet. Married to the man of her dreams, she's still childless and is often left at home for days at a time while he travels on business and "lives the life." She pitches quite a few hissy-fits trying to get her way and life doesn't do her any favors.
What do I have in common with Lydia? Well, we both suffered from a heavy (not healthy) dose of selfishness in our early years. We also didn't take into account the plans God had for our lives. Instead, we had an idea of how it was supposed to go; and when it didn't go that way, well, let's just say it wasn't pretty. While I'm not one to act outwardly in a dramatic fashion, pitching fits and screaming and letting everyone know how I feel about a situation that didn't go my way, I'm still guilty of getting my point across. I just often do it with silent treatments or huffing and puffing for a day or two.
Throughout my twenty-six years of marriage, I've learned to ride the tide a little more. Take everything in stride. Stay calm when the raging waters wash over me. I've learned to hold my breath and to keep my eyes focused upward because every storm passes. Once the storms pass, it's easier to see the blessings that have been placed in my life. I'm able to see the treasure it is to be "just" a wife and mother.
How has it turned out for me so far? Well, my daughter is now twenty-three. Her brother is twenty. My husband is still with me, and that makes me happy. We're back to being the carefree couple we were years ago, although we don't work alongside each other in our own company. Maybe one day. I'm not an anchorwoman, but I am a published author, which was truly my dream all along.
Do I have the picket fence? Sure. But it doesn’t look like what I thought it would forty years ago. There's splinters. There's a few nails poking out that might stick you if you're not careful. It needs to be repaired and sprayed with a fresh coat of paint every now and then. But the One who built the house and who built the fence that keeps us safely tucked in each other's arms keeps us set on a firm foundation with a solid roof over our heads. I'm thankful that we let God build our marriage from the ground up. I'm thankful that He stood in the gap on the days I didn't much feel like being a wife and mother. When you build your marriage on the Solid Rock of Jesus, you can endure and even flourish throughout all of life's storms.