Most newlyweds are going to find this shocking. Right now, they are in the honeymoon phase, when life is all sex and lollipops. Those of us who are veteran married people realize that this phase, though very sweet, is very short. Eventually, in every marriage, there comes a time when you look at your husband and wonder, “What the eff was I thinking?” Even if you have the best marriage in the world, you will still have at least one of these moments (more likely 2 or 10 or, if we’re being completely honest, 1,000).
You will hate your husband. You will think about getting out of your marriage (even if not completely seriously). That passing thought about running off to Tahiti with the hot guy who carries your groceries to the car counts. If you’re in an otherwise happy marriage, these feelings will pass, especially after you and your spouse talk things out (a must in any relationship), compromise, and make up. If you’re not in a good relationship, you might have to do a little extra work to make amends or you really will run off with that guy. This story is not about the latter. This is about when you hate your husband but for a moment.
My occasional hate first surfaced about nine months into our first year of marriage. It was like I was birthing our full-fledged union after the glow of pregnancy. My husband was livid because I brought rocks that we had picked up on our honeymoon to give to a friend of ours; this friend has a collection and we purposely brought them home to give to this guy. So, when I went to visit the couple and their newborn baby, I gave them the rocks. I mostly just wanted to get them out of the way because they had been cluttering our dresser for months. Well, my husband flipped out because he wasn’t there when I gave it to him. He felt as though he’d get no credit for the gift, but I had already taken to the belief that any gift from one of us was from both of us. Well, that evening, I felt as though my husband was being absolutely ridiculous and had overreacted. He huffed and puffed. And I felt the hatred simmering in my belly. I think I may have even slept on the couch because I didn’t want to even see his face.
After a good night’s sleep, the anger subsided a bit. I thought, “This guy can’t seriously be this upset over rocks.” Next, I thought, “If he is this upset over rocks and can’t get over it, I am out because that is just nuts.” I don’t remember exactly how it went down. But we eventually made up and the hatred was replaced by the love that was always right at the surface anyway. For the most part, we have a good relationship. This was a small beef, so it was easy to move on. But I can’t lie; before the love rose again, I had visions of throwing his clothes on the front lawn.
There have been many moments like that one in the nearly eight years since then. Most of the time, the hate is fleeting. It is literally a moment of rage that rises from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head. When you explode like Vesuvius, all seems lost. Then, the love replaces the hate again just as quickly.
Every now and then, a lengthier battle sets the hate in like a chocolate stain on a white T-shirt. You get stuck in the hate. It happened to us, I’m not ashamed to say. We were locked in an argument about where to live, his native Italy or my native United States, when our son was still a toddler. We both had our reasons for wanting to stay in our native lands. At first, we were calm about it. But soon we both started losing our tempers, every time the issue came up. We ended up living in Italy for nine months. During that time, I resented my husband, and he hated me for not loving our life there. Things got ugly. We argued, avoided much conversation, and hung out basically just for the sake of our son. At one point, we decided to divorce. I was waiting for the clock to strike noon in Italy, so it would be 6 o’clock in the morning where my parents live to call them to help me organize plane tickets home for my son and me and to find a lawyer. That’s when my mother-in-law stepped in.
She forced us to talk to each other and come to a compromise. My husband was beginning to realize that his country and home life in Italy wasn’t conducive to raising our son, who was already showing signs of having delayed speech. He also recognized that I needed more help than I could get in Italy. So, he agreed that we would only spend four months in his country and after that it would be limited to our son’s summer vacations from school. That worked for me. A week later we celebrated our anniversary with a cake my mother-in-law had bought for us and the rest of my husband’s family. On that day, I remember feeling the hate slip out of me as I took a bite of that cake. Still, it had lasted for a year, and it would take another year to completely get back that loving feeling. One of our salvations was my willingness to replace every negative thought about my husband with a positive one about him. I started kissing him whenever I had the desire to slap him. I started to remember all the reasons I married him in the first place. He started turning back toward me again, too.
It was then that I realized that marriage really does have its ups and downs. To make it through a lifetime together, you have to accept that bit of hatred that comes along sometimes. It’s hard. In fact, sometimes it breaks a couple. If you can stick with each other during that hateful period, then you’ll come out the other end stronger. Usually, you’ll get back to the love.