Jenna, just married: Be all there

Jenna Stephens–Staff Writer

His soccer game ends at 7:15 p.m. I beat him home, so I fold laundry until he returns. Suppertime nears at 8pm and is prepared by one of our most beloved appliances, the microwave. He has leftover stir-fry and I have leftover pork carnitas. He eats at the table while I prepare my plate, and then we both sit on the couch while I eat mine. He scrolls through Facebook or Instagram or something.

I set up camp in our study room, planning to be super productive tonight. He does homework on a couch in the living room.

He washes the dirty dishes, some of which were left over from breakfast – or were they from yesterday? Who knows…I’m convinced that sometimes they just magically appear.

The last moments before he goes to bed are spent spraying WD-40 on all the squeaky door hinges in our apartment. I won’t crawl into bed until long after he dozes off. I need to finish up a PowerPoint and try to squeeze in devotions – something I’ve neglected lately.

And now here I sit, joined only by the subtle hum of my laptop and a cricket’s constant chirp which echoes through the apartment.

My chest feels tight as the heart and lungs burn a little. My throat feels constricted. As I sit all alone, I want to burst into tears but know I shouldn’t overreact. I feel disappointed – or maybe underwhelmed?

Is this what I should have anticipated when I said “yes,” and then six months later, “I do?”

jenna

Contributed Photo

Married life isn’t playing out like the movie I created in my mind – the one I’ve watched over and over since the days of dress-up clothes and Barbies: The front door swings open. Prince Charming stands there, looking all hot and masculine after a long day at work. I whip off my apron and prance over to give him a kiss. He washes up and we sit at the table sharing a home-cooked meal, prepared by me, of course. We do homework for an hour or so, most of the time catching flirty glances across the room like back in middle school days. And then we put homework on hold because spouses take top priority, second only to God.

This is what marriage should be. Or so naïve, girlfriend-turned-fiancé-Jenna thought.

Almost three months into marriage, I have something to say to my former self: This is real life, sweetie. There will be some romantic, perfect moments. But more often than not, ordinary, everyday tasks will pull you two in opposite directions.

A quote from Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts” speaks to me in this moment: “Wherever you are, be all there.”

That quote seems so simple, but it is just the opposite. Life is doing everything it can to make Voskamp’s challenge impossible. But with determination and intentionality, it could be life-changing and marriage-sustaining. Conner and I are challenged as newlyweds to balance out time for school, work, sports, God and each other. We haven’t exactly figured it out yet, but we’ll get there.

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