I’m Just Trying to Understand You

My husband, Judah, and I got married in 2004. We had been friends for two-and-a-half years. We had been housemates (plus two other girls) for one of those years while working at a theme park in Georgia.

For the bulk of our friendship, we were clueless we were falling in love.


I had been married and divorced and did not trust men to tell me the time, let alone to tell me the truth in matters of the heart.


Judah had dated a girl in high school who cheated on him and married the man she cheated with. He wasn’t eager to trust women either.


The four-year age gap (I’m older) provided a false sense of security. He was in the eighth grade while I was a senior in high school. How could there ever be any interest?

And so, we became friends without the added stress of trying to impress one another.


I was candid and honest about my first marriage. I carried a ton of shame and figured no respectable man could ever see past my failure and love me.


Judah was, and still is, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of guy. One time, he accidentally farted on my head while I was laying on the ground, and he was trying to massage my shoulders.


We were 100% us. No reindeer games.


One thing we didn’t have to manage much, as friends, was our emotions. Once we started dating, long-distance, that changed.


I’d always wanted to live in NYC, and I had plans to move there when my contract as a performer at the theme park ended. How was I to know we were going to be “a thing”?


Four days after our first official date, I moved to NYC. Judah stayed in Georgia to finish his last two years of college. We talked on the phone for hours every night. We navigated some rough waters.


Alcoholism ran in my family, and I planned to never drink. My first husband had been addicted to everything but me, leaving me very wounded and protective when it came to substances.

Judah was only twenty. He wasn’t even old enough to drink legally.


“I don’t want any alcohol in my marriage or home,” I declared one night while laying on the floor of my shared NYC bedroom as my roommate tried to sleep in the loft bed above me.


Silence.


Judah wasn’t sure he was willing to give up alcohol “forever” before even turning twenty-one.


It was a non-negotiable for me.


For the first time, I wondered if maybe we weren’t as great a fit as it had seemed.


We had tons of these kinds of hard conversations. My first marriage had been riddled with lying and poor communication. In this new relationship, I was committed to talking things through, being brutally honest, holding nothing back.


I even asked close friends and my parents to tell me anything they saw that might be a red flag. There had been red flags with the first marriage, but no one said anything. And I hadn’t asked.


Judah and I had a small wedding ceremony in Florida in December of 2004. Twelve people attended. All family.


In the months following, we had two receptions. One in Oklahoma where my family and friends were. And one in Georgia where Judah’s family and friends were.

After the reception in Oklahoma, we were sitting in my brother’s old bedroom at my parent’s house. We were tired and miscommunicating.


I had very little patience, at the moment and in general, for not being understood. I thought I was being very clear.

Seeing that I was getting frustrated, and feeling pretty perturbed himself, Judah screwed up his face, adopted a funny voice I’d never heard from him, and declared, “I’m just trying to understand you.”

That cut the tension.


I’m the funny one, not him. To see his face scrunched in sheer exasperation, hear the slur in his voice, and yet feel the love and truth behind the statement, it cut right through, and we died laughing!

I may have still carried some wounds from my previous marriage. I may have feared making another mistake, trusting a man. But this man knew how to speak my language.


Truth through comedy.

We are so different from one another. But with commitment, communication, a deep desire to understand one another, and a surprising side of humor, we can weather any storm.