The First Years of Marriage are the Hardest, Right?

I married my best friend, Paul, on June 2, 1994, a year after we both graduated from college.   He was the first person in my life to challenge me to think critically about my beliefs, and he didn’t shy away from creating stress to force this re-examination.  This process was not enjoyable, but I concluded it was good for me.

Paul was known by those who knew him as an angry man.  There was the righteousness indignation he expressed at injustice, which was admirable, but there was also the anger that was less understood and more diffuse.  We didn’t share many interests beyond intellectual, but he was a nice guy, smart, supportive, a Christian, open, liberal, a feminist.  He made me a better person.

Our first two years of marriage were hell.  Seminary was tough on Paul.  He was angry at the fundamentalists, angry at the Church, and angry at all the annoying things he could not master – from learning Greek to balancing the checkbook.   Paul yelled a lot, but never hit me.  He once twisted my arm and pushed me onto the bed, but that was the closest he ever came.  Paul preferred to take his anger out physically on brick walls.  He would hit them with his fists, creating a bloody mess.  I guess the pain was a release.

We were poor, but the way that students are poor.  You know brighter times are ahead.  We had some good times:  movies, meals out, and things got better.  We bonded in our struggle to survive.

I knew I was settling for a less than ideal marriage, but I had never seen one of those anyway.   Though I would not have admitted it at the time, I didn’t believe I could do any better and feared I would do a lot worse.   I was confident that Paul would never leave me, which I found reassuring.

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