I see those stars in your eyes (somewhere amidst the insomniatic bloodshot streaks – don’t worry, invitations don’t go on forever). If dreams could talk, yours would be going a mile a minute because there are just so many you can’t count. Kinda like those stars. You’ve been telling us all how Pinterest is your new coffee: addictive, keeping you up nights, but it’s soooooooooooo gooooooooooood!!
Your world is tulle, satin, bridal white and floral bright and rose-colored, and beautiful. You’re beautiful. He’s beautiful. I can’t tell you how happy you both make me. You’ve got your providence-picked Mr. Right, and you’re over the moon, and it’s showing. You’re glowing, and the rest of us are basking in the ambience. You invited me to your party, to celebrate, and I was dancing barefoot in the kitchen. I can’t wait!
So, in honor of all this loveliness, I bought you a trash can.
Let me explain.
First of all, I bought it because it was on your registry, so presumably you do want it, and I get that. I mean, have you seen his apartment? The one you’re moving into in less than two months? Girl, you need this thing, and sure as shootin’ Grandma’s not going to buy it. She wants to give you something lasting, pretty. The china or the crystal. But I’m telling you right now, you don’t need the crystal. You need this trashcan. In any case, it’ll be seeing a lot more use than that china. And unlike Grandma, I don’t mind if you have to replace it someday.
But more importantly, I got it because I want you to remember every time you have to open it, empty it, or clean it’s stinky innards, that this is what you signed on for. If you’re willing, this is your gift.
I’m not trying to be a downer or to dowse those stars in your sleepless eyes. I’m just keeping it real. As a happily married woman of nearly a decade, I’m still learning the ropes, but this one thing I know: if you learn the secrets of the trashcan, you too can be happily married.
I’m sure you must be sick by now of everyone else’s two cents. You think we’re exaggerating when we mention the hard work. Maybe you can’t imagine now just how hard “hard” is going to be. Not with him. Not with you. Not with the two of you and God together. You’ll move mountains. You will. But first, you need to make nice with the trashcan.
Trashcans teach us to hunker down and honor the everyday. To get down and dirty with life. All those picture-perfect snapshots on Pinterest, they’re the stuff of moments. Real married life–the one you’re gearing up for–is lived between the margins. Somewhere in the hours and days and years that pile up between those Kodak moments. So don’t wait for the roses and the rainbows to gauge whether you’ve “made it” in marriage. (Trust me, you have.)
Once you say, “I do,” you did. You chose right. You chose well. You chose each other, and now it’s up to you (both of you) to choose today and tomorrow and every day to get down and dirty once again together in the lovely, mucky, sticky stuff of life.
Get cozy with the trashcan, girl. While you’re at it, get real with each other about what you’re filling it up with. The food you eat (or don’t), the packaging and tags, the diapers (just wait), the Christmas wrapping paper – unless you’re a homesteading DIYer extraordinaire (and seriously, if you’re making your own diapers and wrapping paper, maybe I should be coming to you for advice) – it all costs money. You know, that conversation-killer green confetti that makes this messy world go round. Ladies don’t mention it in mixed company. But, lady, here’s the thing: you need to talk it out at home. With him. Frequently, fairly, and forgivingly.
Finances are the #1 reason for divorce. Not the lack of them, per se, but the miscommunication that surrounds and sidesteps and underestimates money.
Don’t let this be you. Air the dirty laundry, lovebirds. Talk turkey. Examine the contents of your communal trashcan, and don’t be afraid to apologize, to examine and criticize and change habits. To say I’m sorry first and to give more than you think you’re getting. Just do it all with love and respect, and it’ll be alright.
Am I being a party pooper? Maybe. In any case, I’m sorry if it seems that way. Believe me when I say I’m digging your starry-eyed, rose-colored daze. (Did I mention how beautiful you are?) Drink it deep, every Pinterest-perfect pixel. But when you wake up from your honeymooning dream a little, don’t be scared. Mr. Right is still right there. It’s just because, you know, LIFE.
Squabbles over finances and who left the socks and who left the dishes and whose turn is it to let out the dog or start the laundry and why on earth do you do that to the toothpaste tube are all the stuff of life. A life that maybe you think you’ll luck out of (you won’t) or won’t really be bothered by (you will). The key, girlfriend, is to take it in stride, learn from your mistakes. Learn from the trashcan.
And don’t expect him to. Hope, pray, and by all means suggest. But don’t expect him to.
I’m not saying he gets a free pass to be a lazy jerk or anything. (I could write him a letter of his own, but that’s not where my mind is just at the moment. Maybe next time.) All I’m trying to say is that you should accept what you’re getting at the get-go. Look, if you’re going into marriage because of what you expect to get out of it, then you may want to rethink your expectations. If you’re keeping tallies now, know that it will never come out fair. Oh, you’ll both be trying your darndest, and sure as shootin’ you’ll both think you’ve done your share, but it’s never fair, straight down the middle, because we all draw our own lines. And that’s okay; that’s human. Marriage isn’t about fair, after all: it’s about giving. All of yourself. Every day. Because he’s worth it. And you’re worth – and you two together are worth every self-sacrificial moment because dying to self is the only way two become one. Choose wisely and you never have to worry that you’re being had. Pick a guy worth loving, and then do love him hard and anyway and anyhow. That’s not doormat living. That’s just some good ol’ fashioned WWJD.
And speaking of your special someone? Try not to take it personally if you wake up one day to find he has suggestions. (Say what?!) Fix what you can before you bite back. Help where you can before you nag. Talk about your feelings, always and by all means, but do it when you’re in a frame of mind to cherish his, too. Just try to keep in mind when the bloom’s worn off your rose-colored lenses, it’s not about who has it hardest or what happened first or why.
It’s about the stars in your eyes today, about the providence-picked person right before your eyes tomorrow, and it’s about the One who picked him–who’s using this fallen-human man to help make fallen-human you into holy. Who’s made you two one to make each other holy.
You can (I promise) and you will make each other holy, especially in the times when happy comes hard.
That hard happiness? It’s not forever, but it is the price of the gift. Nothing worth having can come easy. You have to do the dirty work. You have to take the trash out when it stinks. Don’t sit there, staring at it piled up and thinking to yourself, “It’s his turn. I’m not doing it. I always do it. And besides, he’s the man.” Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t punish your beloved. Just love him. Even when you don’t feel like it–especially when you don’t feel like it (oh trust me, starry-eyed one, there will be times). But it’s all good. At least, it is where grace abounds.
And so, dear nearlywed, I’m giving you this trashcan.
In a practical way, I hope it helps you around the house when you feel like cleaning all the things, and when you don’t. But more importantly, I hope it serves you for a reminder. Scripture calls it a testament, an Ebeneezer, an altar.
Let this trashcan be the altar where you daily lay down to die so you can lift up the one you love. May it symbolize the sacrifice you’re signing on for soon.
Yours for him, his for you. Every day, year in, year out. For better or worse. Come as you are. Forgive and forget. Always and forever. Happily (helpfully + holy) ever after.
And congratulations. Because you’re about to embark on the greatest, grittiest, grimiest, most spectacular journey of your life. It’s even better than Pinterest and coffee combined.
sweetness + grace,
P.S. The winner of our Big Dipper Wax Works Giveaway is
Congratulations, Elizabeth! I’ll be contacting you by email and hope your enjoy your candles.
Thank you, everyone, for your entries. I’m looking forward to wishing you best of luck in future giveaways, so please stop back often to chat and see what’s cooking!