Knowing someone — truly knowing someone — takes years.
I married my husband about three years after meeting him, and we only dated two of those three years. Of those two years, we were engaged and planning a wedding for six months. My mom was never shy about sharing that she thought we moved quickly.
The first two or three months of marriage, I would get furious at my mother for making comments. She always found an opportunity to tell me that "I didn't really know my husband yet."
Automatically, my reaction was defensive. I'd say, "I know who I married, Mom. Just because you don't know him yet doesn't mean I don't." She would smile, shaking her head slightly, and respond, "Nia, you have no idea who you've married."
Often, she'd chuckle under her breath. Her smile and glance made me feel foolish, and I was angry for that.
But now, I know better.
There have been many nights where I've fallen asleep in tears, wondering who it was that I married. I've sat and pondered trying to understand my husband Steven's thought process for his actions and words.
But don't get it twisted. My husband is a stand-up man and I'm blessed to have him in my life. There's just so much about him that I didn't know before we married, and vice versa.
I was raised in an emotional family and he was, well, not. His family makes logical decisions based on facts and do their best to remove any and all emotions from the equation.
Due to our different upbringings, we've had serious conflict. I would often cry during confrontations, and he would turn away because 1) he didn't know how to deal with the tears, 2) he figured he should give me space, and 3) he really didn't see how crying would solve the problem.
I'd end up feeling rejected and lonely. I'm working on not letting my emotions get the best of me and he's working on learning how to comfort me when I'm upset, even if he doesn't always understand.
It was naïve for me to think that I knew the man I was marrying.
I've reminded myself that love is a commitment, not an emotion. Feelings change. You may love your partner, but you may not always like them, and you certainly won't always agree with their perspective or attitude. In fact, some of their outlooks or reactions may go beyond not agreeing with your beliefs; they may even make you feel devalued and hurt.
On one occasion, Steven and I were arguing. About what, I have no idea. His final response to me was something to the extent of, "Whatever, I don't even care anymore," leaving me crushed.
Tears trickled down my face as we drove to church and when he asked why I was crying, I truly didn't know how to express my feelings with words. He took my hand before we walked into church and told me how much he loved me, but my heart was still heavy.
During the service, the pastor said something that really helped me to identify and articulate what I was feeling. He said, "The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is apathy." And there it was.
I felt unloved during moments when my husband was apathetic towards me. I communicated my feelings to him and he responded how my bad sense of timing can make him feel overwhelmed at times. But we're working on it.
The most important thing is an open line of communication. We do our best to acknowledge when we hurt one another so we don't keep making the same mistakes.
Marriage is a humbling experience, and it's easy to get stuck in that silent hurt without communicating and reflecting upon the issues that can tear apart a marriage. Conflict is inevitable, and will be at the heart of getting to know your spouse.
How well can you really know someone? Knowing someone is a culmination of shared experiences, of stumbling across mannerisms and quirks, of anticipating reactions or recognizing something as monumental where others might see it as inconsequential.
It's being comfortable in silence. It's loving someone, in light of his or her flaws and imperfections. It's the intertwining of two separate lives until they can no longer be separated.
Knowing someone takes years of shared experience, disagreements, banter, discoveries, and reflections.
I don't know my husband yet, but I'm working toward it a little more each day.