I had been crying regularly for three weeks when Michael gave me the ultimatum.
"Either you quit something or I'm going to quit it for you." His voice was filled with compassion, but it also carried an edge. "You're going crazy, Ann, and you're taking me with you."
I burst into fresh tears. "I can't quit anything, Michael! I have to work and I'm not quitting school and you know I'm not going to stop being involved at church! And—and—there are always dishes! I paused for a second before continuing, "We're only three months into marriage and I'm already failing!"
It had been three months since Michael and I had gotten married. In that timeframe, I had started graduate school as a full time student, was working two jobs, had responsibilities at church, and felt the new and added burden of trying to keep our apartment sparkling and make dinner every night, not to mention trying to learn what it meant to be a wife. I was trying to do it all and was, in my mind, failing—the apartment was a mess, I was too exhausted to cook on most evenings, I was fighting to stay up on my graduate work, and I was constantly stressed.
"Ann, you're not failing!" His voice softened. "We are not failing." Michael was concerned. "Where are all of these expectations that you're putting on yourself coming from? It's not like I care if everything is perfect in the apartment or if dinner is on the table every night. Who are you comparing yourself to?"1