I won't lie, it's been pretty hard, but I've tried to keep a positive outlook. All growing up, I had this dream of being an adult and having my very own apartment or house with no roommates. I made a goal to live by myself for at least one year-- the good life. After getting married a lot younger than I had every (ever) expected, I thought that that dream was out the window.
But now it's not! I decided to try to take advantage of this opportunity. How often, I thought, do married people get the chance to take a step back and take a really objective look at their relationships like this? I can take some time to really, genuinely check in with myself and examine my marriage thus far, and work on some things that I could do independently to strengthen it. Not only that, but I could also do a little self-care. I could do some things I normally wouldn't have time for (and to distract myself from the loneliness).
I was going to get myself... (pause for effect) SOME HOBBIES!
In a wave of new energy, grasping onto something to be positive about, I started signing up for things. I signed up at a yoga studio to do Hot Yoga twice a week. An amazing sister in my ward agreed to teach me how to decorate cakes and pies. I even I got some knitting gear and started watching youtube tutorials. I've read more books, gone to the temple more often, and now that I don't have to feed Grant, my weekly grocery bill is down almost 80%, so I have the opportunity to go to lunch with old friends and new more often.
Sounds great, right? But here I am with my five-nights-a-week taste of that "good life" and it involves a lot more takeout, much less laughter, and more frigid cold feet than I would have expected. Not to mention that since the benevolent catch-and-release expert (Grant) departed, there has been a huge increase of creepy-crawlies in the house.
It was very difficult some nights to return to a dark, empty house and curl up in my cold empty bed. There are some days where I still feel lonely and weepy and tired. Then the dark cycle would begin. I'd recognize how unjustified I was in my loneliness-- I already had an eternal companion, for heaven's sake, and there are plenty of people who are separated over much longer periods of time-- so I'd start chastising myself. Then I'd start chastising myself for not taking full advantage of the opportunity: what would 30-year-old mother Sarah think of me taking the peace and quiet and free-time for granted? Then I'd get emotionally exhausted from all the internal chastising, and go back to feeling lonely and weepy and tired.
I'm certainly not advocating that you depend completely on your significant other. I have found in my own marriage that having unique hobbies and skills adds diversity, liveliness, and an opportunities to teach. I'm continually impressed by my husband's ability to effortlessly engage with other people and make them feel important, his athletic prowess in swimming and road/mountain biking, and his interest in historical combat mechanisms and quadcopter racing. I have found immense joy in being able to passionately tell my husband about books I've enjoyed (and hated), in teaching him a new yoga pose I'm working on (which he always executes on his first try, without fail), and in dragging him to play after play after play after play...
There is a kind of dependence, however, that is necessary in a healthy marriage. At one point, you have to realize and learn to appreciate that your partner has unique talents and abilities that I will never have. And for a type-A, accustomed-to-being-good-at-everything snob like me, that was a hard pill to swallow. But once I did, I realized how much joy was brought into my life. I don't have to deal with everything myself now! I have an advocate! I have a partner! I have an eternal companion!
We live in a world that puts a disproportionate value on complete independence, and scorns and scoffs at needing anyone. As I've written before, it is vitally important to be your own person before diving into an eternal companionship, but there is absolutely nothing shameful about really needing your "person." This can certainly be a parent, sibling, or close friend, but I think this is most applicable to spouses. I think we women have all made one joke or another about being a "strong independent woman who don't need no man"-- myself included. It's fun to think of ourselves as wholly autonomous beings, free from being hurt, betrayed, or humiliated because we're somehow too good for that. But we often forget that when we distance ourselves too much from others, we become exempt from the blessings of truly intimate relationships. When we don't let ourselves "need," we fall into the trap Satan has set for us, that trap being "If I don't need any other person, why in the world would I need a God?"
We are really needy creatures by nature. If i've learned nothing else from this, I am very needy. I need my husband. I need my friends who send me uplifting texts on hard days. I need my visiting teachers who bring me cupcakes when I'm lonely. And I need my Father in Heaven. To feel his presence amidst the loneliness has been the single most comforting thing these past few weeks, and even when Grant and I are reunited and we start a family together, I never want to forget that kind of need. I still need to be strong, but there is certainly strength in dependence.