I’m writing this post on a train, sharing a table with 3 strangers, negotiating the space again after negotiating the space of a Wetherspoons booth with another stranger working on his own laptop, and then a couple grabbing a drink between working in two different offices and catching a train home. Compromising is such an obvious feature of life, I have been struggling with what to write in this post for as long as the prompts have been released, and yet compromise is one of the things I find the most difficult. Being made peckish by the smell of a nice hot burger next to me while a girl and her father do homework is the easy bit. Compromising my space, my schedule, my individual ways of life and, in a way, my identity…that’s when it gets hard. I think I have had a few meltdowns in the past few months over the fact that I don’t want to get lost in being someone else’s wife and then mother. I’m still holding onto the legal obligation to keep my surname that goes with having an Italian passport, and I start to feel rather inclined to call any daughter I might have Alessia. Still, I have lived long enough to know there is such a thing as too much independence: it may work for the United States of America (arguable), but humans are not an island. It’s a waste of time to try to pretend otherwise.
This doesn’t help me to feel less threatened at the thought of what happens next. I used to read the Church’s teaching on marriage with a sense of longing and excitement rather than terror, but when there is only a hypothetical other person what it all really means doesn’t hit you as hard. As Catholic Twitter loses it with infighting over whether marriage is a vocation you’re called to, I have found myself really pondering what it truly means. Marriage is a sacrament when it takes place between two baptised Christians, as per Canon 1055 of the Code of Canon Law (“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized“). Covenant is a much stronger word than contract: I sign contracts every time I work with a client, or take out a new phone, but God is not part of that contract beyond discernment and provision. One significant aspect of the sacrament is that it is ministered by the couple and not the priest: it is the only sacrament not directly mediated by the Church, which is there as witness of this transcendental multi-level agreement between a person, another person and God. On its own, it’s a dream, but when it starts to involve a flawed person, who doesn’t always do as I ask, who snores and refuses to get separate rooms when we’re married and getting our first house together because it’s not what couples do, who is a beer snob who doesn’t like going to the pub with all the nice gins that I like, and who finds Only Fools and Horses funny, then it doesn’t look as rosey. In fact, I have wondered if maybe I should just join the Sisters of Mary the Morning Star.
After much deliberation it became clear to me that it was a grass always greener on the other side situation: if I’m finding it difficult to adjust to life with one person, how would I feel about adjusting to life with a group of people, one of whom I am also bound to obedience and who’ll likely not bend the rule about female submission by telling me what I want to hear anyway. Also I love veiling so much because it is a lay devotion and not a religious habit, because I go out into the world and climb ladders and smash glass ceilings and act tough and then I go to church and know that with Jesus I have the freedom to let go of all that, and just be me. Like with a spouse in a healthy marriage, who loves you almost unconditionally. I also don’t think I can give up the fun of playing with different looks and different personas that I derive from my wardrobe full of clothes, and wear the same look every day. After the meltdown at the Christmas decorations and tree pretty much on the altar, it’s clear I’m headed for the trad wife life: it’s not the destination (or the person for that matter) that needs changing, it’s my disposition. I need to get over the problem with two made one until death do them apart. Yes, that will require compromise, and compromise requires me to let go of my independence and getting and doing what I want, when I want it, and look at things not as a bartering of decisions to keep a score of, but as making decision together, for a new entity. Yes, sometimes these decisions go back to something individual, and no, it doesn’t erase me from history if treated as a 2 for the price of 1 package. As long as the relationship is healthy and not abusive, and we both get equal say in choices big and small, that’s just how life as not-a-hermit works. And even hermits have to compromise, just not with people…
It’s hard to give up a whole lifetime of having a certain worldview as you embrace a life of faith that demands of you the exact opposite, but Jesus never said faith was going to be easy, and the rewards for my self-absorbed pain on earth will, hopefully, be greater joy than the pain in Heaven.
This blog post is part of the #LoveBlog2019 series on the topic of Compromise.
Meet your hosts
Brita of Belle Brita
Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. On her blog and social media, you’ll discover more than authentic storytelling–she’s brutally honest about pursuing a fulfilling and joyful life even with Crohn’s Disease and depression.
Charlene of Enduring All Things
Charlene is a 20 something wife and fur-mama living in Portland, Oregon. She’s a follower of Christ, watcher of SciFi, reader of fantasy, singer of show tunes, and lover of her husband! She uses her blog, Enduring All Things to help couples build a marriage that will endure whatever comes their way.